In First Film, Daniel Kramer '84 Strips Down a Shakespeare Classic
In the most ordinary, everyday places, extraordinary things can happen.
That's the concept behind Kitchen Hamlet, a new independent film written and directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer '84. Kramer, a professor of theater at Smith College, sets a stripped-down version of Shakespeare's tragedy in a contemporary suburban home, focusing on the family drama.
“I wanted to take Hamlet seriously as a story,” he says,“and treat it as an exciting tale to tell.” Growing up, he often attended performances of Shakespeare plays with his mother, and remembers viewing them not as examples of high culture, but as“thrilling stories.”
In Kitchen Hamlet, which was filmed in June 2008, Hamlet's house is his whole world, which is abruptly shattered with the death of his father and his mother's remarriage to his uncle.“In the same way that Claudius and Gertrude are king and queen of Denmark, parents are kings and queens of their children's lives,” explains Kramer. The action takes place entirely in Hamlet's house and backyard (here, the site of the climactic fencing scene between Laertes and Hamlet), heightening the young man's sense of isolation.“There's no explanation of where characters like Polonius and Ophelia live,” says Kramer.“They live on the periphery.”
Kramer, who holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama, has had ample experience directing for the stage, but this was his first attempt at film.“In theater you have a lot of rehearsals in which you try different things, not knowing what the results will be,” he says.“In film, everything you produce is a result, even if you don't make use of it.”
Kramer has just finished editing Kitchen Hamlet and is submitting the film to national and international festivals. He's also considering marketing the movie to educational outlets like colleges and libraries.“It's not your typical independent film,” he says.“There's not a big world of indie Shakespeare out there, so now we have to find our audience."
To view a trailer, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naRLa5FdDEo