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Autumn 2016 Tour Announced - Hamlet

4 May 2016

Black Theatre Live announce Britain’s first all-­black Hamlet as fourth touring show.

The new adaptation from the consortium of eight venues will be directed by Jeffery Kissoon

Following the success of their first two productions, Macbeth and She Called Me Mother, and shortly after their upcoming tour of The Diary of a Hounslow Girl, Black Theatre Live has announced that it will be touring Britain’s first all-­black Hamlet from September 2016.

A co-production with Watford Palace Theatre and Stratford Circus Arts Centre, the show will be directed by Jeffery Kissoon, who has most notably worked for the RSC, the National Theatre, Robert Lepage, Peter Hall and in Peter Brook’s seminal production of The Mahabharata. Award-winning playwright Mark Norfolk, the inaugural winner of the Roland Rees Bursary, adapts the play from Shakespeare’s original folio edition to create a fast-moving, contemporary version that gets to the heart of a young man’s dilemma.

Mark Norfolk’s adaptation sees Denmark as a modern Black Empire of England where an intelligent young student returns to discover the world he once knew has crumbled. Faced with the new king’s change in regime and religion, and implored to defend what is left of his father’s decaying legacy, Hamlet now faces the greatest moral challenge – to kill or not to kill.

Director Jeffery Kissoon said, “In Hamlet we reflect on the Black experience, anxieties, and sensibilities in a modern era. Shakespeare’s wonderfully rich text explores a tormented humanity, asking the searching questions of life and death faced head-on by a young Black Prince. 'Remember me' is the theme of this production: by saying 'Remember me', the ghost of Hamlet's father is urging Hamlet to remember not just him, but his background, heritage and all those that came before him”.

Jeffery Kissoon’s theatre credits include playing Antony opposite Kim Cattrall’s Cleopatra at the Liverpool Playhouse, Julius Caesar in Greg Doran’s production for the Royal Shakespeare Company and many Shakespearean and many classical roles under directors including Robert Lepage, Peter Brook, Peter Hall, Simon McBurney, Calixto Bieto, Nicholas Hytner and Trevor Nunn on productions such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, The Tempest, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Mahabharata, Waiting for Godot and The Crucible. His film credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ham & The Piper, Dirty Pretty Things, Hamlet and on Television, Agatha Christie, Dalziel and Pascoe, Holby City, Casualty, Space 1999 and the recurring roles of Judge Anthony Abego in EastEnders in 2015, and Mr Kennedy in Grange Hill. As a director his work includes Ave Africa, an adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, The Meeting and Mark Norfolk’s plays Where The Flowers Grow, Naked Soldiers and Knock Down Ginger.

Mark Norfolk writes for film, theatre and radio. His recent films Shadow Gene, Ham and the Piper and Crossing Bridges which he wrote and directed, have won many international awards including a Screen Nation Film Production Award, Best Film and Director at Festfilm Kosovo, SevenArt Best Film, Best Feature Film at the Carmarthen Bay International Film Festival, Best Film at the Black International Cinema Festival and a Silver Chris Award at the Columbus International Film Festival. His theatre work includes Blair’s Children at the Cockpit Theatre, Wrong Place for Soho Theatre, Where The Flowers Grow, Naked Soldiers and Knock Down Ginger for the Warehouse Theatre and in 2015 he became the first recipient of the Alfred Fagon Award’s Roland Rees Bursary.

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