Q&A with Edward Day on Super Hamlet 64

Posted by The Garage Thursday 06 September 2018, 10:07
  • Super Hamlet 64 poster
  • Super Hamlet 64 poster

What's the show about?
Super Hamlet 64 is a one person comedy about videogames, Shakespeare and our relationship with technology, full of spoken word poetry, projection mapped animation, live music and comedy songs.

Where are you from?
I'm originally from Swindon but I've just moved to Norwich to live nearer my partner. In my 12 years of touring experience it's my favourite city to perform in and I've worked a lot in East Anglia, doing open air Shakespeare with Red Rose Chain for many years. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to the poetry, art and theatre scenes here.

Why did you decide to write this show?
I've always wanted to make a play about computer games. They don't come along very often and the shows I have seen always seem to be by people who don't actually know anything about them; but games are rich in story, humour, beauty, art and complex moral dilemmas, and as someone who studies movement, computer games are such a delightful source to draw from.

I've had so much fun figuring out how to move like a computer game character. In my career I've found that on those occasions when you manage to you capture a person or animal's movement perfectly, with just the right mix of subtleties it becomes instantly recognisable and delightful to watch.

There are so many moments in the show where this is the case, from brushing my teeth like a Wii sports game to wandering around, mouth opening and closing like Pac-Man, or running sideways keeping my body rigid like Mario or Sonic. And there are so many opportunities for comedy; it's been a brilliant fun to make and even more wonderful hearing the laughter and seeing the great reactions show gets night after night.

What are your favourite games?
My favourite game is Terranigma, a brilliant RPG for the Super Nintendo and a close second is Grim Fandango, the hilarious and poignant film noir, Tim Schaffer adventure game about the Day of the Dead.

What's your favourite Shakespeare?
I love Pericles. It's hardly ever performed because it's less well known and has a weird plot but I love it. It's a wild adventure story with pirates and a family tragically torn apart then heart wrenchingly reunited (spoiler alert). I obviously love Hamlet too. I think it's the most accessible of Shakespeare's plays and the characters are easy to relate to.

How long did it take you to make?
I started making it in 2015, trying out 15 minutes at Theatre in the Pound at the Cockpit theatre in London and then developed it, supported by Red Rose Chain, a theatre company in Ipswich. I did a rough version as part of their 24 hour ‘Shakespeareathon’ in 2016, then toured it in 2017 to all sorts of festivals and now I'm touring it again this year to 19 venues across the UK.

How did you come up with the idea?
It started out as a geeky project where my aim was to rewrite a Shakespeare play using only videogame quotes, aiming to throw in quotes of such depth that audiences wouldn't realise they weren't Shakespeare's originals.

Too many people think that videogames can't be art and too many other people think of Shakespeare as elitist and something to be endured; But Shakespeare's plays were the gaming of his day: entertainment for the masses. He was popular largely because his works were a lot more down to earth than the other performances being produced at the time. And while some games are simply mind numbing and addictive, there are so many others that are as captivating, beautiful and profound as works of art found in any other medium.

What sets games apart is the element of choice. To me the most artistic games are the ones which subvert your expectations and play with your ability to choose (or lack of it). Examples include The Stanley Parable, Bioshock and The Walking Dead.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is about a boy struggling to make any choices, thrust, against his nature, into a quest to kill his Uncle and avenge his undead Dad. In Shakespeare's version Hamlet's Uncle kills his Dad and marries his Mum. In my version Luigi kills Mario and marries Princess Peach.

Where can we see the play?
It's on at The Garage at 7:30pm on Friday the 7th of September. It's then carrying on touring till the 19th of October to Oxford, Nottingham, Bromsgrove, Swindon, Bath, Clevedon and Croydon. 

Click here for more information.