Asolo Reaching Out With Bilingual Hamlet

By Megan McDonald April 11, 2012

Hamlet, Prince of Cuba

The Asolo Rep’s education department has scheduled an impressive array of talkbacks and lectures in conjunction with the theater’s current production of Hamlet, Prince of Cuba. The show has been presented in English for the past few weeks. Beginning May 3, the same cast will perform the show in Spanish with English supertitles.

I was highly impressed with this brisk, pared-down production, which is set in Havana in 1898. I was particularly moved by the performance of Frankie Alvarez in the title role. His risky, on-the-edge portrayal is riveting and so fresh that you think you’re hearing Hamlet’s famous monologues for the first time.

The cast will be featured on the Fox 13 Morning Show in Tampa on Thursday from 7-9:30 a.m.  Some cast members will have a talkback with the audience following Sunday’s matinee performance.

At 7 p.m. April 20, cast members and members of Tampa’s Cuban community will discuss the production, and the evolution of American culture in 21st-century Tampa. The discussion will be at Centro Asturiano de Tampa, 1913 N. Nebraska Ave.

On April 28, Hamlet cast member (and Sesame Street veteran)  Emilio Delgado will take part in a bilingual storytelling session for children six and under. It’s in the Asolo rehearsal hall at 10 a.m.

On May 2, a panel that will include playwright Nilo Cruz (who did the Spanish translation of Hamlet) will discuss the Cuban-American identity. The session is in the Asolo’s Cook Theatre at 5 p.m.

The first Spanish performance on May 3 will be preceded by a dinner benefiting the new Hispanic organization Unidos Now.

Congratulations to the Asolo for making such strong efforts to reach out to the Hispanic community during this production, which is the first bilingual production of a Shakespeare play ever mounted by a U.S. theater company.

Sarasota Film In Festival Spotlight


Movies shot in exotic locations in Asia, Europe and South America will be screened at the Sarasota Film Festival, which opens on Friday. But the lush cinematography in The Perfect Wedding showcases the tropical beauty of Sarasota, where it was filmed last year.

The movie, a gay romantic comedy about two men who meet at a wedding, will be screened at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the Regal Hollywood 20.

The film was written and produced by part-time Sarasota residents Ed Gaffney and Suzanne Brockmann.  This was the first film venture for the two novelists (he earned an Edgar Award nomination for his legal thriller Enemy Combatant, while she is the best-selling author of several suspense series).

The project grew out of a conversation with their  actor son, Jason, who is gay.  “Jason was bemoaning the fact that so many films use gay characters for easy laughs or present being gay as a problem,” Gaffney says. “He mentioned that you never see a just a funny story of a couple of guys who happen to fall in love.”

In The Perfect Wedding, the budding romance between two young men is presented matter-of-factly. The guys’ mutual attraction is handled in the same manner as two other subplots involving straight couples.

“The screenplay was inspired by The Cosby Show, in that the humor in that show didn’t come from the characters’ race, and they never resorted to stereotypes,” Gaffney says. “It was universal.”

Jason Gaffney, who contributed to the script, will attend the Sarasota screening. He plays Gavin, who accompanies his friend to Sarasota to help prepare for his sister’s wedding. The cast also includes veteran Hollywood character actors James Rebhorn (Independence Day, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain) and Kristine Sutherland, perhaps best-known for playing Buffy’s mother on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Directed by Scott Gabriel, the film was shot at various locations in Sarasota and Osprey. Though it was made on a minuscule budget by Hollywood standards, it has the look and texture of a much more expensive film, which pleases Gaffney enormously.

He and his wife are also thrilled to be invited to screen the film at the festival.“It’s a great honor, and I’m excited that all the people who were so kind in helping get this film made will actually be able to see it,” Gaffney said.

For more arts and entertainment updates, follow Charlie Huisking on Twitter @CharlieHuisking.

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