SRHS drama students pen their own showcase, Hamlet at Hogwarts

SRHS drama students pen their own showcase, Hamlet at Hogwarts
Posted on 12/08/2016
Senior Denton Miguel plays Harry in the SRHS Winter 2016 production of "Hamlet at Hogwarts," an original student production.You’d think recreating a play where everyone dies at the end would make for a dreary theatrical atmosphere.

Not so for the five drama students working on Salt River High School’s winter adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Humor and laughter fill the lecture hall where the students and their teacher, Heidi Horchler, are creating their own, modern-day and fantastical version of the famous tragedy. The students titled their version Hamlet at Hogwarts.

“When the students realized that the characters from Hamlet closely relate to the characters from Harry Potter, they dove right in,” Horchler said. “It has really taken off, and I think the audiences will be pleasantly surprised.”

Horchler said the students were given an in-depth look at Shakespeare and his influence on contemporary pop culture through a first-time partnership with the Arizona Theatre Company (ATC). Holly Garner, an education and company management associate with the Phoenix-based ATC, has been giving twice-a-week workshops to the drama students since mid-November to prepare for the group’s winter production.

“The partnership with ATC has been amazing,” Horchler said, describing the first lesson as one in which the students had to guess whether a quote was a modern hip-hop lyric or a line from the Bard. “It really illustrated to the kids how timeless his work is and how closely it relates to our modern society.”

Each ATC lesson builds on the previous one, learning not only about Hamlet, but other Shakespeare plays and themes, including plotline and character archetypes, Horchler said. For instance the character archetype of “villain” in Hamlet is Claudius, but in Star Wars it’s Darth Vader. The “malicious woman” is Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, but today would be Regina George from Mean Girls. These connections make Shakespeare’s works more relatable, Horchler added.

“Shakespeare is universal and transformative. Hamlet is one of his most iconic plays, filled with angst, revenge, dynamic relationships and madness—much like high school,” Garner said. “Selecting this particular play was a no-brainer for a modern-day adaptation and parody.”

SRHS senior Jason James, Jr., is the lead writer for Hamlet at Hogwarts and said it was an easy choice for the drama students to bring the Prince of Denmark into the magical world of Harry Potter.  

“We thought about many different types of settings, including our own school and different movie franchises like Star Wars or The Lion King,” James said. “But we chose the Harry Potter theme because the characters from Hamlet correlate well with the characters from Harry Potter.”

Besides, he said, “we all love Harry Potter.” James said writing the play has been fun; he has been cast to play the part of Claudius/Professor Snape.

“It’s been awesome making our own show because I get to pour my creative thinking into two famous stories and combine them to make them entertaining and make people laugh,” James said. “Yes, we have turned one of Shakespeare’s biggest tragedies and J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series into a modernday comedy.”

Garner said the ATC partnership with the high school drama class came about through a grant from the Salt River Community Children’s Foundation. She said Hamlet at Hogwarts is not to be missed.

“This budding relationship between the theatre and the school has helped students become more comfortable with Shakespeare and their own creative voice,” Garner said. “Everyone has a story to tell and the students of Ms. Horchler’s class have quite the hilarious tale.”

See Salt River High School’s winter production of Hamlet at Hogwarts, as well as pieces created by firstsemester art students on Thursday, Dec. 15. The art gallery will open at 6 p.m., and the play begins at 7 p.m. in the lecture hall. A small reception will follow. The production is free and open to the public.

For more information:
Taté Walker
Communications and Public Relations Director
Salt River Schools
Office: (480) 362-2570
Cell: (480) 692-8159
Tate.Walker@srpmic-ed.org
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