Hamlet between reality and virtuality

March 2007 -

The interdisciplinary theatre group LOT Teatro from Peru performed an interpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet in a television studio in Lima late in February 2007 as a reflection on today's consumer society: Marketing/Hamlet/Set.


The run-up to the production was lengthy. Early in 2006 LOT organized a workshop during which testimonies were collected from consumers and producers. A theoretical workshop on the work of media theorist McLuhan followed in October.

Director Carlos Cueva worked closely with seven actors to interpret Hamlet based on this material. To Cueva, the relationship between a reflection on today's consumptive behaviour and a classical play like Hamlet lies in the essence of making theatre: "The theatre - the pure artistic discipline of pretending - is the perfect place to approach today's concoction of reality and virtuality. In Hamlet's work, the character Hamlet is forced to live between appearance and reality, struggling with the role that life - and the stage - has given him."

Marketing/Hamlet/Set was produced as a co-production with The New Wolsey Theatre in England, who sent three representatives to Lima to view the production. One of the representatives was dramaturge Zoe Svendsen, who held a workshop on how Hamlet was performed in Shakespeare's age for LOT Teatro.

The collective preparations ultimately resulted in an experimental and critical production. Cueva: "Our Peruvian society is also increasingly dominated by pre-fabricated needs and tastes. If you have no dreams of your own, they are made for you. Thus each of the seven actors was given an individual multi-media set for this theatrical piece with which they could work on their interpretation of Marketing-Hamlet."

During the performance the adult Hamlet sells his younger version on credit: "Buy Now, Pay Later"; the beautiful Ophelia is transformed during a photo shoot into an anorexic Ulrike Meinhoff; Hamlet entices his mother Gertrude (played by an older Peruvian soap star) to make uncomfortable confessions on a breakfast television show, and exotic fruits - symbolizing Latin American sensuality - are ground into pulp in a blender in the final scene. As the actors subsequently leave the stage, the public is politely requested to applaud: Bravo!