From a desert in Somaliland to a campus residence hall room, a cast of Hamilton students and alumni will perform a collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets this week in a production that explores the meaning of community during the pandemic that has altered life around the globe.
The Hamilton Theatre Department’s In War With Time, From the Sonnets of William Shakespeare will take place Nov. 5, 6, and 7 at 7:30 p.m. EST, and may be viewed on YouTube.
The production, directed by Professor of Theatre Craig Latrell, is partly live and partly recorded. Latrell and theatre major Sabrina Yvellez ’22 collaborated remotely over the summer to create the production. Jeffrey Larson, resident designer and production manager for theatre, was the cinematographer and visual designer, and Visiting Assistant Professor Sara Walsh designed the settings.
Far-flung alumni actors and students on the Hill rehearsed remotely with Latrell, who is himself off campus. They strategized locations in which to record their performances. For costumes they rummaged their own closets, consulting virtually with costume designer Julia Perdue.
James Greisler ’10 shot his performance in the desert near the Abaarso School of Science & Technology, where he is an administrator. The school is located outside Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
Romina Memoli ’09 recorded “Sonnet 44” on an abandoned lawn of a university in her city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she is an actor and founder and director of a multidisciplinary theatre project. Latrell recruited her for the production as he did the other alumni actors.
“It appealed to me because it is approaching openly and creatively the art of theatre during times of isolation and quarantine,” Memoli said. “In War With Time is using the tools we have available now [Zoom, cameras, editing programs and digital communication platforms], and expanding on our conception of what it means to put on a play.”
Latrell thought Shakespearean sonnets, performed by a single actor, fit the limitations imposed by the pandemic, and he’d long wanted to work with the sonnets in a production. After an attempt to create a narrative, Latrell and Yvellez tossed that idea and decided to use only Shakespeare’s words. They selected a few sonnets that together created an “emotional arc,” Yvellez explained.
That decided, Latrell’s artist’s mind went to the concept of community, in particular the community of Hamilton.
“What does Hamilton mean, even at this point, what does the idea of community at Hamilton mean? And does it have different meanings because of our current situation? And at that point, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to include people from different places?” Latrell said. “And then from there, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to include people who graduated from Hamilton?”
The cast of students and alumni numbers 13. “A big part of the show, I would say, is the different connections that we're trying to make between actor and actor, whether that be through location or through the different character relationships, through objects that we have,” Yvellez said. “So yeah, I would say for the audience, one of the biggest things that'll be very exciting for them is to see how everything comes together — where the connections are.”
Latrell would rather be working in person with actors on a stage, his favorite place to be, but he feels good about In War With Time. “I really hope that this does help people to maybe see our community in a different way during these times,” he said.