One week ago, on August 5th, Yellowtale Theatre Company, Shakespeare in Paradise, and the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts welcomed Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of Hamlet to Nassau.
It all began (at least for Shakespeare in Paradise) with a chance announcement by a supporter of Shakespeare in Paradise that the Globe was embarking on a world tour of Hamlet in commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. At that time, the supporter was seriously considering helping to bring the tour to Nassau, and she contacted the members of Shakespeare in Paradise to see if it could happen. Later, though, she backed off—the company was proposing that it perform in Nassau at the beginning of August!
Now anybody who spends any time in Nassau knows that the August holiday weekend is one of the slowest times of the year in town. It’s the last holiday of the summer, and Nassauvians traditionally leave the city for other islands or for Florida. It’s also the dog days of summer, and expatriates also tend to make sure they are leave the city for cooler weather. And as potential sponsors are gearing up for the back-to-school rush of the end of August, it’s a particularly difficult time to raise money around.
So it seemed as though we would have to pass on this tour. Couldn’t Shakespeare in Paradise take it up, people wondered? After all, we do have a Shakespeare festival. There was one problem with that, though—our entire year is spent raising money for October, and we were really concerned that if we had to bring in a professional touring company from the UK it would affect our ability to fund the festival itself. After several attempts to get the Globe to consider visiting Nassau later, SiP reluctantly passed on the opportunity.
Enter the Yellowtale Theatre Company. Based in the UK, Yellowtale is a gathering of actors with Bahamian roots who produce theatre in both the UK and Nassau. Their first local production was Shakespeare in Paradise 2010’s Dat Bahamian Ting, a love story loosely based on the courtship of the parents of Yellowtale’s founder. This was followed in 2012 by a special adaptation of Othello, set in The Bahamas with Othello as a Bahamian Conchy-Joe, and most recently, this past May, Yellowtale also presented Hibiscus Hotel. Craig Pinder, a Bahamian actor who performed in Shakespeare’s Globe in 1997, took up the challenge, linking Yellowtale with Shakespeare in Paradise and proposing that we collaborate on the production.
And so the collaboration began. Yellowtale were the executive producers, the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts offered the theatre, and used its box office to sell the production to its audience; and Shakespeare in Paradise provided technical expertise and promoted the production to its followers and supporters. The result was an audience that ranged from youngsters of 10 to old-timers in their eighties, all of whom paid rapt attention to the performance.
The touring company flew in from New York on Tuesday morning. The tech crew moved into the theatre straight away, coming in from the airport and meeting with Philip Burrows, SiP and the Dundas’ artistic director, and set up. Assisting SiP were volunteers from both Shakespeare in Paradise and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Youth Development through the Arts programme. At five o’clock the executive of SiP arrived at the theatre along with the rest of the touring company, and rehearsals of the music and of the fight scenes took place. Then, at 7 PM, the doors opened and the audience entered.
The experience was electric. The photos we’re sharing here were taken by Dede Brown on behalf of Yellowtale, and are from the dress rehearsal. For more on the evening, see Craig Pinder’s guestblog about the Nassau visit. But for now, the photos.
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