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University of Arizona faculty and students team up with national actors to reimagine Hamlet, bringing awareness to mental health

Hamlet: Fine Revolution
Posted at 6:34 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 14:16:37-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — With the National Alliance on Mental Health reporting that one in five people experience a mental illness, it's something that faculty and students at the University of Arizona's School of Theatre, Film & Television is bringing awareness to in their latest production, Hamlet: Fine Revolution.

The University of Arizona, with the help of a university grant, is teaming up with national actors to retell the story of Hamlet. They're using technology like televisions and sound effects to make it a modern take on the Shakespeare classic, in order to spotlight how technology impacts mental health.

Director and Producer Kevin Black, who also plays Hamlet, said this project is examining fundamental questions about depression, anxiety and the purpose of life.

“The university is very much interested in finding what is the impact of the fourth industrial revolution is on society," he said. "One of the things I'm interested in is seeing the impact of new tech on humanity.”

After pitching the idea for Hamlet: Fine Revolution to the university, Black got students and Hollywood actors to make the project happen.

"The students on board with this are incredibly engaged in this and want to make it happen," he said.

One of the ways that the production tackles this subject is the way that Claudius, the main protagonist, wields technology. The characters, especially Hamlet, are constantly spied on by Claudius with cameras and all sorts of technology.

"The constantly online life and certainly in this modern take, where everything is all wired, this constantly survielled life brings him a great deal of stress and
anxiety," he said.

And as the characters go through mental health challenges, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona's Executive Director Christina Bickelmann said in our every day lives, we face the same situations, especially when it comes to using the internet.

“They [the internet users] share that negativity widely which is where the depression and anxiety comes in," she said.

But there are resources available in our community for those struggling with anxiety and depression.

“We have support groups and classes to help people manage their health in a better way," she said.

Black said hopes audience members examine their own lives and think about these fundamental questions.

“I’m really hoping that when people come they’ll think ‘what are we doing here?',” he said.

If you're looking to see the last two shows this week, you can find tickets here.

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