Playwright Yan Duyvendak and co-creator Roger Bernat stage a modern day murder trial based on the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet where audience members serve as the jury and real officials from Chicago courts mix with a cast of local actors.
In Please, Continue (Hamlet), Duyvendak and Bernat reframe Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a present-day homicide trial. Chicago actors portray the pivotal characters, including Ophelia, Hamlet, Gertrude, and Polonius, while court officials are played by actual Chicago prosecutors, trial judges, and public defenders. Hamlet is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Ophelia’s father Polonius, and the prosecutors try in earnest to succeed in convincing a jury of audience members of his guilt or innocence. The trial is unscripted, and all participants have access to the same, unchanging dossier of evidence. The performance takes place over the course of three to four hours and has been performed in venues around the world with wildly varying verdicts. Please, Continue (Hamlet) draws attention to the theatrical nature of the justice system and raises the question around subjectivity and the concept of “guilty till proven innocent.”