Theater students were scheduled to perform Hamlet. Instead of canceling, the show went on virtually

After concerns about COVID-19 closed Elon University’s campus and nearly canceled the performing arts department’s spring production, the cast and members of the department’s faculty came together to accomplish something bold: performing Hamlet online.”The easiest thing would have been to say, ‘you know, oh well. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s out of our hands.’ But they had a story to tell,” said David McGraw, Assistant Professor of Arts Administration. Throughout the two hour and 16 minute long video, members of the cast recite their lines from tiny boxes on the screen. Some of the students are in North Carolina. Some did their performances from their bedrooms, basements, wherever they could find a quiet place.The Facebook live video has been viewed more than 5,000 times as of Monday evening.”We have some students that are still in the Elon area. For safety reasons, they weren’t able to return homes, but they’re in their individual apartments. Our Ophelia Zoomed in from California,” McGraw said. Because Hamlet is in the public domain, the cast was able to do the show online without infringing on copyright and licensing rules. “A number of shows couldn’t do this simply because of licensing and royalties involved, but as Hamlet is in the public domain, we were able to produce a night of theater.”They met as a group Tuesday, held a rehearsal Friday and went live Saturday night. Opening night had been scheduled for Thursday.”I was nervous the show wouldn’t be what it should be, which it turned out to be the exact opposite,” said Tommi Aleman, a production coordinator for the show and a senior Elon student. “The community loved it. A ton of people have reached out and thanked us for doing this.” For senior Daniel Skinner, playing Hamlet had been on his mind for nearly a year. He said he decided as soon as he learned the department would be performing the play that he would audition for the title role.”There really wasn’t much of missed lines or beats,” Skinner said. “It was fun to see how, even though it was just a Zoom conference, it still reflected some of the staging. Even those soliloquies where I would be by myself, it would be just me on the screen.”While the actors were able to share performances, several people involved commented they were disappointed the hard work of the behind-the-scenes cast members, including set designers and technicians would not be able to share their hard work. Still, the cast believes they reached more people than then would have had the show gone as planned.”We’re so grateful for the community response,” he said. “It’s crazy. Even though the live production, a real stage version, would have been really incredible, we reached more people than we would have with four in-person shows.” Hamlet-at-Home is still available to watch on the Elon Performing Arts Facebook page. An edited version is also posted on YouTube.”The story of Hamlet — in some ways — is about a young man taking control of his destiny. And so, to have these young people really take hold and have that agency, that’s more than anything what this (online version of the) production was about.”Skinner said while the show did not go on as planned, he was grateful to have had the chance to perform with the cast and was eager to say goodbye to Elon at a later date.Watch the video above to learn more about this story.

After concerns about COVID-19 closed Elon University’s campus and nearly canceled the performing arts department’s spring production, the cast and members of the department’s faculty came together to accomplish something bold: performing Hamlet online.

“The easiest thing would have been to say, ‘you know, oh well. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s out of our hands.’ But they had a story to tell,” said David McGraw, Assistant Professor of Arts Administration.

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Throughout the two hour and 16 minute long video, members of the cast recite their lines from tiny boxes on the screen. Some of the students are in North Carolina. Some did their performances from their bedrooms, basements, wherever they could find a quiet place.

The Facebook live video has been viewed more than 5,000 times as of Monday evening.

“We have some students that are still in the Elon area. For safety reasons, they weren’t able to return homes, but they’re in their individual apartments. Our Ophelia Zoomed in from California,” McGraw said.

Because Hamlet is in the public domain, the cast was able to do the show online without infringing on copyright and licensing rules.

“A number of shows couldn’t do this simply because of licensing and royalties involved, but as Hamlet is in the public domain, we were able to produce a night of theater.”

They met as a group Tuesday, held a rehearsal Friday and went live Saturday night. Opening night had been scheduled for Thursday.

“I was nervous the show wouldn’t be what it should be, which it turned out to be the exact opposite,” said Tommi Aleman, a production coordinator for the show and a senior Elon student. “The community loved it. A ton of people have reached out and thanked us for doing this.”

For senior Daniel Skinner, playing Hamlet had been on his mind for nearly a year. He said he decided as soon as he learned the department would be performing the play that he would audition for the title role.

“There really wasn’t much of missed lines or beats,” Skinner said. “It was fun to see how, even though it was just a Zoom conference, it still reflected some of the staging. Even those soliloquies where I would be by myself, it would be just me on the screen.”

While the actors were able to share performances, several people involved commented they were disappointed the hard work of the behind-the-scenes cast members, including set designers and technicians would not be able to share their hard work. Still, the cast believes they reached more people than then would have had the show gone as planned.

“We’re so grateful for the community response,” he said. “It’s crazy. Even though the live production, a real stage version, would have been really incredible, we reached more people than we would have with four in-person shows.”

Hamlet-at-Home is still available to watch on the Elon Performing Arts Facebook page. An edited version is also posted on YouTube.

“The story of Hamlet — in some ways — is about a young man taking control of his destiny. And so, to have these young people really take hold and have that agency, that’s more than anything what this (online version of the) production was about.”

Skinner said while the show did not go on as planned, he was grateful to have had the chance to perform with the cast and was eager to say goodbye to Elon at a later date.

Watch the video above to learn more about this story.