This is the season when the snowbirds begin to hire those companies which will drive the beloved Camry up north. The sun is high, daylight extends till just before a baby’s bedtime, and those watering their lawns every morning are violating any program designed to sensibly conserve our precious resources. All this is enough to make one wonder where the winter has gone. Fortunately for those of us who live here year round, unlike the snowbirds, the direction we full-timers must travel on the weekend of Friday May 11-13th is south, in order to see Hamlet: Prince of Cuba, which will be performed by the Sarasota-based, Asola Repertory Theatre at the stunning South Dade Cultural Arts Center.
Blasphemous though this may appear, Australian-born artistic director Michael Donald Edwards, has by now learned that the meaning of life for us down here, as talkaholic Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen now finally realizes, must pay its respect to the beloved island properly. Conscious of the local sabor, the Asola production transforms icy Denmark to tropical Cuba. Perhaps imagining Hamlet as Cuban sounds like a bit of a stretch; then again, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark begins with a couple of dudes named Bernardo and Francisco. So who is to say the great one didn’t envision this? Moreover, for those in the know, tempers in Hamlet get quite steamy.
A bilingual adaptation does not mean that Cuban-born, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz, who wrote the Spanish translation for this, owes Shakespeare some sort of apology; on the contrary, Edwards and Cruz are seeking and granting him multicultural props, given the rising reality of the numbers of those speaking the language, especially locally. Regarding the villains in the Bard’s original vision, one might wonder, against whom in Cuba might Hamlet want to extract revenge? Pragmatically, Edwards avoids the obvious villains; it’s set at the turn of the 19th century – 1898. Ozzie G. might have talked to Edwards a few weeks before the outburst about José Marti, a hero legitimately worth loving.
Hamlet deals with understanding the meaning of life. Knowing how Shakespeare has captivated audiences everywhere for centuries, Edwards and Cruz fuse two cultures and languages, endeavoring to make Shakespeare accessible to our local audience. Great idea! Perhaps the Asola Theatre is going to earn a rep.
Madness, both real and imagined, is central to the original story. Heartache, betrayal, vice, corruption, and fury are all themes presented which we who live in Miami are easily able to fathom historically, politically, and personally. For all who think they cannot comprehend, imagine driving to the airport on the Palmetto the day before Thanksgiving; you will soon begin to relate to all the boiling blood.
Two of the performances, Friday, May 11, (8pm) and Sunday, May 13 (3pm) are in Spanish, while both Saturday performances (3pm and 8pm) are in English. Tickets are $30, $20, $10, with $5 tickets available through CultureShockmiami.com with conditions. Cars will be parked, tickets will be purchased, and snacks at the theater will be bought and sold graciously in Spanglish, so everyone should be happy.