Old King Hamlet is dead, his murderer and brother Claudius now sits on the throne. Prince Hamlet despairs and forces himself to act. Around 1600, Shakespeare turned a well-known legend into the story of a still fascinating search for meaning, in which extreme clarity, delight in destruction, idealism and blindness alternate at lightning speed, with deadly consequences. With the title character, he created one of the most fascinating roles in European theatre history – timeless.

What fascinates you about Shakespeare?

Johan Simons: After Othello in 1993 with my company Hollandia and King Lear at the Munich Kammerspiele in 2013, Hamlet will be my third Shakespeare production. I have always been fascinated by how Shakespeare makes a great philosophical force alive and playable. He is a virtuoso of language. He constantly creates neologisms, i.e. new language creations, for example by transforming nouns into verbs. This gives the thought a special mobility.

What associations does Shakespeare evoke?

Johan Simons: A play by Shakespeare is like a big window through which you look into a forest. Greek writers like Aeschylus are like a desert or an ice rink. Shakespeare is like a forest with hills, trees, ponds and moor lakes. You slip easily, the floor is slippery.

What is the core of the piece?

Johan Simons: "To be or not to be." It‘s not for nothing that the sentence is so famous. Someone is trying to find out whether there is a right to exist. What‘s the point of our lives when a lie is so often considered to be the truth? In my opinion Hamlet is extremely sensitive and uncompromising, he cannot stand false facades. It‘ll destroy him.

In Bochum, Hamlet is played by a woman. Why?

Johan Simons: I don‘t want to make a big issue of it. Actually it is normal that a woman plays Hamlet: Sarah Bernhardt, Asta Nielsen, Angela Winkler, Katja Bürkle, Abke Haring, many others. The material is about mental power and the dynamics of thinking.

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Sat, 15.06.
Wed, 19.06.
Sun, 30.06.
Premiere: 15.06.2019