SEPTEMBER 24 - 27, 2020

Marcel Meyer as Hamlet at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival - photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing


by William Shakespeare

This acclaimed South African production of Shakespeare’s most famous play is inspired by records of a performance on board an East India merchant ship over 400 years ago.

directed by Fred Abrahamse

featuring Marcel Meyer


Cape Town, South Africa


This show was presented Sept 21-24, 2017
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Marcel Meyer and Callum Tilbury in HAMLET from Abrahahamse & Meyer Productions in Cape Town South Africa. Photo by Pat Bromilow-Downing

In September 1607, the captain of a British ship off the coast of West Africa wrote in his diary: “We had The Tragedy of Hamlet: and in the afternoon, we went together ashore, to see if we could shoot an elephant.” The following year, a second performance of Hamlet was held off the east coast of South Africa.

From these footnotes to history, Abrahamse & Meyer Productions has crafted a much-loved production of Hamlet that, in Provincetown, will be performed in a shallow tank of water inside the historic Fisherman’s Wharf.

It’s a vicious and vivid show that pays homage – from its pool-side design to its quick-changing, all-male cast – to a play that keeps evolving across oceans and centuries.

Hamlet is paired, in repertory, with Tennessee Williams’ rarely-seen classic Sweet Bird of Youth.

About the Production

"This production of Hamlet re-imagines Shakespeare’s most iconic play within the context of the historic 1608 performance aboard The Red Dragon as a play within a play, utilizing a cast of only 6 actors playing 6 Jacobean sailors who, in turn, play all the parts in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Critics have hailed it as a multi sensory experience … imbued with wonder and as daring, modern, exciting and topical."


- Alison Foat, Theatre Scene Cape Town
March 29, 2017
[Full article here]


"While an interpretation of Shakespeare’s work that takes its cue from the old is more often associated with stylised Elizabethan conventions – a style which has morphed into its own beast over the years – this production takes its cue from the first non-European production of Hamlet ... So instead of a highly polished, conventional, even archly stiff read, we get a very natural take on the tale of revenge disguised as madness. This is a group of six sailors presenting what was for them a very contemporary piece of work, so they speak their lines simply with no ostentatious handwringing to make clear their intent, because the words make it clear."


- Theresa Smith, WeekendSpecial, Cape Town
April 15, 2017
[Full article here]


"[This production] premiered at the 2015 National Arts Festival. In 2016, it was staged at the 10th International Shakespeare Festival in Romania and received a 12-minute standing ovation ... The costumes are an exciting synthesis of traditional Jacobean costume and original pieces ... Masks are used extensively to depict the duplicity and deceit of some of the characters. This exciting production has a brilliant cast ..."


- Robyn Cohen, Cape Times
April 4, 2017
[Full article here]

About the Company

Abrahamse & Meyer Productions has brought numerous shows to the Festival over the years, treating Provincetown audiences to visually bold and emotionally striking productions of Kingdom of Earth (2012 and 2013), The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (2013 and 2015), The Lady Aoi (2014), The Day on Which a Man Dies (2015), Desire Under the Elms (2016), and A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot (2016).

Fred Abrahamse, a leading Shakespeare director, has directed more than 150 productions in all genres (from classical theatre and opera to musical theatre and contemporary plays), over the course of his 35-year career. Over the last five years, Abrahamse & Meyer Productions has produced some of the most successful Shakespeare productions in South Africa, including the award-winning Tragedy of Richard III in 2010 and 2011, Romeo and Juliet in 2011, and productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013) and Othello (2015 and 2016) that have been presented in 20 different seasons on two continents, collectively nominated for 13 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards.  

In 2011, South African theater critic and arts writer Christina Kennedy wrote that "It is sometimes debated –  often among young people – what relevance Shakespeare has to South Africa in the here and now. This is why passionate young thespians, such as Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer, who are hell-bent of making Shakespeare daring, modern, exciting and topical, deserve some sort of special award. Abrahamse and his brave young cast should be applauded for bringing a new, synapse-firing incarnation of a well-known text to local audiences.”

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