A performance by Eugenio Barba based on Vita Amlethi by Saxo Grammaticus (1200 A.D.)
Saxo, the monk, unearths Hamlet's skeleton from the basements of the castle, evokes his life and interprets it in Latin. He addresses the spectators in this archaic and defunct language, unveiling and commenting the vile intentions of the characters and of their deeds. He wanders through the performance, is at the centre of the action, identifies himself with its development and struggles to avoid its uncontrolled events, seeking a way of escape.
The bare space is lightened by torches that can be both portable and fixed to the ground. These moving flames modulate the intensity of the actions and the perception of the space. The actors move amidst a labyrinth of torches, they carry them and use them to underline - as in a painting by Rembrandt - the fragment of a scene or a detail.
The stage action follows Saxo's storyline, punctuated by Hamlet's outbursts of folly. Moments of indolence are interspersed with frantic crises, while assassins or credulous accomplices run after Hamlet to interpret his behaviour. At times, the whole reality becomes a delirium. The events take place in a castle which is besieged not by the Other World and its ghosts, but - much more concretely - by the outside and its subsoil.
From the subsoil rats emerge, carriers of plague. These enemies of the human race surface as miasmas from the dark and underground layers of an orderly society.
Invaders are expected from the outside. Up to now, wretched and hungry people have been arriving, looking for refuge. Are they going to be contaminated by the plague or are they its carriers? The castle's dwellers get rid of them methodically yet without anger: a mere territorial cleansing operation. In the cemetery, a few graves are always open in readiness. The gravediggers try to keep order in this kingdom in which lethal forces scurry around.
While corpses burn and the mad night of revenge seems ended, Hamlet, as in a solitary prayer or a hymn of war, proclaims new rules invoking the name of his father. It is not his father's ghost that appears, but a child, ready to fight for his New Order.
On Stage: Akira Matsui (Japan), Yalan Lin (Taiwan), Ni Nyoman Tjandri, I Wayan Bawa, Ni Wayan Sudiani and 30 performers and musicians from the Gambuh Desa Batuan Ensemble (Bali): I Ketut Buda Astra, I Ketut Lida, I Ketut Sandi, I Ketut Suwana, I Ketut Karwan, I Made Budiana, I Made Merta, I Made Renanta, I Made Suamba, I Made Suteja, I Made Lesit, I Nyoman Doble, I Nyoman Suwida, I Wayan Bawa, I Wayan Kader, I Wayan Marca, I Wayan Martawan, I Wayan Naka, I Wayan Purnawan, I Wayan Rawa, I Wayan Suamba, Ida Bagus Made Kertayasa, Ni Kadek Ariantini, Ni Luh Anik Windasari, Ni Made Partini, Ni Made Srimpi, Ni Nyoman Juniati, Ni Nyoman Tjandri, Ni Wayan Nugini, Ni Wayan Phia Widari Eka Tana, Ni Wayan Sudiani, Milvia Terenzi, Pino Confessa (Bali), Brigitte Cirla (France), Augusto Omolú and Cleber da Paixão (Brazil), Annada Prasanna Pattanaik (India), Magnus Errboe (Denmark), Odin Teatret (Denmark), and the Foreigners' Chorus (52 performers from 22 countries): Aeran Jeong (South Korea), Agnieszka Masternak, Agnieszka Sosnowska (Poland), Alberto Martinez Guinaldo (Belgium), Aleksandra Marzec (Poland), Alessandro Curti (Italy), Alvaro Iván Hernández Rodríguez (Colombia), Ana Laura López Morales (Mexico), Andrea De San Juan Hazen (Spain), Antonello Motta (Italy), Bruna Longo (Brazil), Carlos Carmona (Mexico), Carolina Paola Balduzzi (Argentina), Christina Kyriazidi (Greece), Da mian Borowiec (Poland), Dawid Gudel (Poland), Deise Nunes (Brazil), Devrim Evin (Turkey), Dominique Serena Antignano (Italy), Edyta Kutnik (Poland), Ewa Piotrowska (Poland), Felipe Vergara (Colombia), Francesca Guillén (Mexico), Francisco Villicaña Maldonado (Mexico), Giuseppe Leonardo Bonifati (Italy), Isabela Paes (Brazil), Isadora Pei (Italy), Juliana Zancanaro (Brazil), Linda Cunningham (Ireland), Liza Urbanová (Czech Republic), Loren O'Dair (Great Britain), Luciana Martuchelli (Brazil), Magdalena Ptasznik (Poland), Małgorzata Gajdemska (Poland), Marcelo Gomes Miguel (Brazil), Michał Dawidowicz (Poland), Monserrat Montero Cole (Costa Rica), Paweł Leszczyński (Poland), Piotr Filonowicz (Poland), Rachael Lindsay (Ireland), Roberto Aldorasi (Italy), Sofija Ristevska (Macedonia), Soon-Heng Lim (Malaysia), Stefan Adamski (Poland), Stephanos Regueros Savvides (Cypres), Steve Rice-Khan (Great Britain), Thadd McQuade (USA), Vanna Kårfors (Sweden), Wioletta Farkowska (Poland), Wout van Tongeren (The Netherlands), Yuval Dishon (Switzerland), Zofia Dworakowska (Poland).
Music: Composed and arranged by Frans Winther; classical Balinese and Indian songs
Scenic space: Luca Ruzza
Costumes: Jan de Neergaard and Odin Teatret
Light design: Luca Ruzza and Odin Teatret
Sound: Jørgen Lindholm
Production director: Anne Savage
Production assitant: Luciana Bazzo
Photos: Claudio Coloberti
Poster: Luca Ruzza
Programme: Rina Skeel
Technicians: Fausto Pro, Donald Kitt, Hans Kobberø
English translation: Judy Barba
Director's assistants: Julia Varley, Ana Woolf, Anna Stigsgaard
Administrative director: Søren Kjems
Litterary advisor: Nando Taviani
Dramaturgy and director: Eugenio Barba
Odin Teatret thanks: The Polish Embassy in Jakarta, Atalaya Teatro, H.M. Berg, Trevor Davis, Mirella Schino and Batuan Dalam Desa
Produced by: Odin Teatret, Hamlet Sommer, the Municipality of Elsinore, Ravenna Festival, KIT - Copenhagen International Festival and the Grotowski Institute, Poland.
With the support of: Danish Arts Council - Centre for Performing Arts, Kulturministeriets Provinspulje, Counties of Ringkjøbing and Frederiksborg, the Municipalities of Holstebro, Lemvig, Struer, Thyborøn/Harboøre, Thyholm, Ulfborg/Vemb and Vinderup, The Japan Foundation.