Junior theatre arts major Sam Guzik presented his senior acting thesis, “Hamlet,” in the Dailey Theatre on April 24. Senior Adjunct Professor of Theatre Arts Georgij Paro and Director of Theatre Arts Steven Kent directed the Shakespearean classic. The play will also be shown this weekend.
"Hamlet,” the current theater production at the University of La Verne, surprised and entertained audiences last weekend.
The Shakespearean tragedy is theater major Sam Guzik’s acting senior project.
“It was both moving and epic,” Mark Vidal, student at Citrus College said.
The original four-hour show was cut to two hours for this production.
Guzik, along with faculty directors Steve Kent and Georgij Paro, thought that the original script was too long for contemporary audiences and that few people would be willing to sit through a four- to five-hour show.
The main challenge for the directors was to cut the play in a way that remained clear to the story’s plot; they certainly achieved it.
“They made Shakespeare surprisingly entertaining,” Vidal said.
Vidal is a prospective ULV student, who plans to minor in theater.
He said he has always thought Shakespeare to be boring, and is exited to see it in a new light.
After the show, a lot of the audience’s conversations were about the visual effects and the impressive performances by the actors.
“The blood scenes were good,” Nancy Padilla, sophomore criminology major, said. “They were really sneaky about it.”
In the culmination of the story, the characters are in the presence of a swordfight.
The actors learned how to swordfight for this scene and used fake blood for a more dramatic effect.
Like most great plays, “Hamlet” is not only a story of betrayal and revenge but also a story of love. Ophelia, the love interest of Hamlet, was played by sophomore theater major Natasha Velasco.
“Ophelia was really good at being crazy,” Padilla said.
Being a tragedy, “Hamlet” is full of unexpected deaths, and this was what seemed to drive most of the actors to give their most powerful performances.
“When Ophelia dies and then Hamlet’s mother tells everyone, the scream in between her tears was creepy,” Victoria Elias, Cal Poly Pomona student, said. “It gave me goose-bumps. It was really good.”
Melody Rahbari, senior theater major, played Gertrude, the mother of Hamlet.
Her performance, along with the rest of the cast, was passionate and strong throughout the production.
“The guy that played Hamlet was really intense,” Elias said. “You could feel what he was feeling. He seemed real; I felt like he was really crazy, and in love and crazy.”
For Guzik, preparing for the role of Hamlet was a process.
“As an actor, I have found that playing Hamlet is not difficult, it requires a lot of work, but it is not hard,” Guzik wrote in his senior performance thesis. “The difficulty lies only in letting go of yourself and allowing ‘The Man in Black’ to come in.”
Guzik’s performance was so in depth that the audience sitting in the front rows could see Guzik tear up as he saw his father’s ghost.
“It seems exhausting to have to act that role out,” Elias said. “I can’t imagine how tired he must be. And he has to do it again next week.”
Another aspect of the production that audience members enjoyed was the music.
“I would like the soundtrack,” Vidal said.
Performed and written by Adria Barbosa-Torregrosa, the music complemented the emotion and suspense for the show.
“I was trying to mix different styles of music,” Barbosa-Torregrosa said.
Barbosa-Torregrosa took classical music from the 16th century and 20th century and found harmonies and melodies to mix. He then came up with two different themes for the music.
“I brought two different themes and improvised,” Barbosa-Torregrosa said.
He did not have the music completely written down, so at times he would improvise for what seemed right to the scene.
“There’s a lot of silence,” Barbosa-Torregrosa said. “It’s a tragedy, so there is not so much music. There is a lot of music in comedies.”
“The suspense, the mood was all in the music,” Padilla said.
“Hamlet” will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
There will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Ticket prices are $10 for general admission, $8 for seniors, faculty and staff and $5 for students.
For more information, call the theater department at 909-593-3511, ext 4386, or visit the department’s Web site at www.ulv.edu/theatre.
Maria J. Velasco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.