Shakespeare festival explores grief through ‘Hamlet’


Kentucky Shakespeare Company pose outside of their van before the beginning of their ‘Hamlet’ tour, which started in Murray. (Photo courtesy of @kyshakespeare on Instagram)

Ava Chuppe, Senior Writer

The Department of English and Philosophy held its annual Shakespeare Festival from March 8 to 10,  which brought in K-12 students from the surrounding community for performances of “Hamlet” in Lovett Auditorium.

The festival also incorporated events intended for University students and the wider community, including a psychology panel titled “Hamlet and the Best Methods for Coping with Grief.” The event featured Psychology Professors Michael Bordieri and Gage Jordan, Counseling Center Director Angie Trzepacz and Festival Chair Rusty Jones as moderator.

Following the psychology panel, actors from Kentucky Shakespeare led an acting workshop called “Hip Hop Shakespeare” at Playhouse in the Park.

A student-led discussion panel from Jones’ Shakespeare class spoke at Waterfield Library on the day of the final “Hamlet” performance.

Sophomore creative writing major Hannah Foote, who presented in the “Ophelia’s Message: Flowers, the First Emoji” discussion panel, said the panel gave students a rare opportunity to present their work.

“As a student, I felt like I was both responsible for the grade…but also that I had a further responsibility to the community I was presenting to,” Foote said. “There’s a lot of professors out there who might not read essays thoroughly, and a lot of students realize that, and they feel like their work’s just not being appreciated.”

After her presentation, Foote said she engaged in discussions with other students about the character of Ophelia.

“When you have the opportunity to be a part of a panel like that, you get to see not only that your work is heard but that it is understood and that people are interested in it,” Foote said.

Foote said the performance made studying Shakespeare more digestible.

“It was truly wonderful to see a variety of actors from different locations come to Murray and to see how they were trained,” Foote said. “That really helps students like me who are studying Shakespeare, but I think it also helps students who aren’t necessarily familiar…to not be daunted by the sheer mass of the volume, especially since it was condensed.”

The English Student Organization hosted a dinner before seeing “Hamlet.” Some of the involved students sat in chairs placed on the stage, which senior professional writing major Danica Fuerst said reminded her of performing the play in the past.

“It was cool,” Fuerst said. “It was interesting because I’ve actually played Hamlet before in a very abridged version that was an hour long, so it was kind of like reliving that a little bit.”

Fuerst said sitting onstage provided a unique perspective.

“It was interesting to have that halfway perspective between watching it from the audience and being part of it, especially having experience kind of being part of it,” Fuerst said.

Foote said she appreciated and related to the emotion portrayed in the performance.

“The actors did a wonderful job, and Dr. Jones really did a good job of bringing the Shakespeare Festival together,” Foote said. “I’m really happy to see it back.”