‘Something Rotten ...’ Visits Arcosanti this weekend

PV teen stars as Hamlet in new production

Prince Hamlet (Duncan Burkitt) and Queen Gertrude (Reva Howard) from a scene in Laark Production’ Hamlet, which opens this weekend at Arcosanti. (Courtesy photo)

Prince Hamlet (Duncan Burkitt) and Queen Gertrude (Reva Howard) from a scene in Laark Production’ Hamlet, which opens this weekend at Arcosanti. (Courtesy photo)

SHAKESPEARE AT ARCOSANTI

All’s Well that Ends Well

When: 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Hamlet

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Dinner at 6 p.m. both days

Tickets: $40 for the day; $20 per show. Students $10. www.arcosanti.org...

Local teenager Duncan Burkitt acted in his first role when he was only five days old, acting as baby Jesus in a Christmas production put on by his church. These days, 17 years later, Burkitt is still performing, but his roles are a little more intricate. For instance, he’s playing the role of Hamlet in Laark Production’s production of “Hamlet” at Arcosanti at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 2 and 3.

The play is directed by Duncan’s mother, Karla, who said “Hamlet” wasn’t originally the play the organization was looking to perform. However the thought came in her head that most of the people playing Hamlet are actually too old for the role, she said.

“They always play them as like 30, and when you read it, it fits really well with a teenager,” Burkitt said. “So I started looking at it, talking to people about it and saying what ‘would you think if we did a really young Hamlet and had a really young Claudius and Gertrude?”

The idea garnered a lot of positive feedback so Laark Productions decided to jump in feet first, she said. The approach is working well too as Hamlet is a young man who’s still in his formative years and nobody’s listening to the things he says, Burkitt said. Further, Hamlet talks a lot, but mostly to himself, and those he does confide in put their own twist on what he says, she said.

The biggest challenge in playing the part of Hamlet is learning all the lines because there are quite a bit of them, Duncan said. As an actor, finding the character was a little more of a challenge than usual, but he works consistently, he said. Yet, while he knows all his lines, he sometimes will put a line in the wrong place, Duncan said.

“I start doing one soliloquy and I say something from another soliloquy,” he said, also noting that working on making sure he gets everything correct and in the proper place “is going well.”

Discoveries are made all the time while rehearsing, Karla said. During the last rehearsal, they were practicing the confrontation between Hamlet and his uncle and three members of the cast had the idea that the scene should be more physical and combative, she said. So they changed the movements and the scene became a battle between the prince and the usurper, Burkitt said.

That change of how Hamlet and the usurper physically reacted to each other became rawer and tenser, Burkitt said.

“The fact that you’ve got a really young 17 year old really physically challenging this adult man … it became different,” she said. “It’s fun to take the script and get different people working on it, different artists, and seeing things.”

That’s the way Laark Productions works too, Burkitt said, noting that the play isn’t simply her vision but that the cast work on fleshing out the characters as well. It’s given the play a unique spin, she said, later mentioning the play’s costuming is also more modern.

It’s also given Duncan a good appreciation for the play itself, he said, stating that he had never really cared for the play at first. However, now he’s able to value the characters and what Hamlet himself is going through, Burkitt said.

“It’s been an interesting experience if nothing else,” he said. “It’s been fun to explore Hamlet’s character and gain a really good appreciation for the play and what it means.”

Laark Productions is also putting on a more traditionally costumed “All’s Well That Ends Well,” also at Arcosanti at Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4 at 3 p.m. There is a dinner at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Tickets are $40 for dinner and the show or $20 per show. Student tickets are $10. Tickets can be purchased by calling Arcosanti at 928-632-7135 or by visiting www.arcosanti.org.