The familiar characters of Shakespeare’s play are delegates placed in a conference room in an unnamed modern Arab state on the brink of war.
In the figure of the young Prince Hamlet, a man of leisure struggling to define his role in a hostile environment, the piece aimed to offer a metaphor for Kuwaiti youth – in turns disillusioned, resourceful, misunderstood, and yet faced with the historical imperative to find their own voice and act decisively to determine the future of this small nation. The figure of the ghost echoed the Gulf War itself, whose deep psychological scars still inform the politics and society of Kuwait. The deep generational divisions within Denmark resonated with contemporary social phenomena in Kuwait and the Gulf region as a whole.
Written and Directed by Sulayman Al-Bassam
Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Script Editor and Artistic Producer: Georgina Van Welie
Musical Director: Lewis Gibson
Composers / Musicians: Lewis Gibson, Alfredo Genovesi
Performers: Mariam Ali, Nigel Barrett, Nicholas Daniel, Monadhil Daood, Bashar Al-Ibrahim, Mohamed Kefah Al-Khous, Amana Wali
Assistant Director: Nigel Barrett
Production Manager: Mohammed Jawad
Lighting Design & Technical Manager: Richard Williamson
Assistant Lighting Design: Robin Snowden
Hamlet in Kuwait was developed for presentation in Kuwait, Cultural Capital of the Arab World 2001, marking 10 years after the Gulf War and liberation from the Iraqi invasion. The production was performed 20 times to capacity audiences in Kuwait, playing to a mixed audience of Arabic and English-speakers. The tour climaxed in an unprecedented act of theatre: a ‘Martyr’s Gala’ performed in the open air, with tanks and military hardware forming the backdrop to the play that was presented to 500 American troops, 20 kilometres south of Kuwait’s border with Iraq.
The production evolved into The Arab League Hamlet which premiered at Les Journées Théâtrales de Carthage, Tunisia in 2001 before evolving into
The Al-Hamlet Summit (English version 2002, Arabic version 2004)