Wednesday, June 20, 2007


So just what is it that makes Q1 such a Bad Hamlet? Is it because the title is constructed in "urban" slang, creating a situation in which the modifier "bad" actually means exactly the opposite of what's expected? No - stop trying to insult me. This new production of what might well be an old version of an old play is being produced by Dillon/Liebman/Schafer in association with New World Theatre Company under the direction of Cynthia Dillon, and it opens TONIGHT at the one and only Brick. Jason Liebman, who portrays the titular Bad Hamlet, explains.

What exactly makes your show so damn pretentious anyway?.
What could be more pretentious than doing the First Quarto version of Hamlet, the only version of Shakespeare’s most oft-produced play - that no one ever deigns to do? Perhaps doing it with fake British accents while sipping martinis, or perhaps talking about doing it while in public so as to lure eavesdroppers into thinking how interesting and creative we must be. We’ve tried doing those things, but performing the play in the Pretentious Festival would make us feel far more self-satisfied.

Name some obscure influences on your work - extra points for unpronounceability.
We have no influences. Not even each other. We reinvent the wheel each time we take the stage. If not the wheel, the arts at least. We’re like the Walt Disney Corporation that way. Not influenced by it, just like it. We should also mention that Shakespeare’s First Quarto of Hamlet in no way influenced our performance of Shakespeare’s First Quarto of Hamlet, nor did Shakespeare. Nor Bacon.

The late Roland Barthes once wrote “For the theatre one needs long arms; it is better to have them too long than too short. An artiste with short arms can never, never make a fine gesture.” Explicate.
That’s ridiculous. Did this Roland Barthes character ever write a Shakespeare play? I think not. “Speak the speech…nor do not saw the air with your hands…” seems pretty plain to me we’d better off as theatre artists without the distraction of arms.

In what ways do you plan on alienating your audience? Cite an intentionally opaque or confusing moment within your production.
Audience? We’ve never noticed one before and we’re not about to start now. That doesn’t mean we don’t want you at our show. It just means we will only acknowledge you existentially (and not without a modicum of ennui).

Which other Pretentious Festival show will you declare as your sworn ideological enemy, and why?
We declare the entirety of the Pretentious Festival, it’s very existence, our sworn enemy. Ideologically, metaphorically, allegorically, acutely, obtusely, truly, madly and deeply. And that other production of Hamlet too (break legs Ian & Co.). To illustrate the disdain we bear, we will no longer refer to this as the Pretentious Festival, but rather the ?retentious Festival.

Please give us the gist of the acceptance speech you would use were you to win one of our Pretentious Awards.

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