Coming to The Capital Fringe Festival: We Happy Few Productions’ ‘Hamlet’ by Kiersten Dittrich

We Happy Few, one of DC’s newest theatre production companies, will present their first show at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival. The company’s co-founders Hannah Todd and Raven Bonniwell have chosen Hamlet, one of William Shakespeare’s most frequently read and produced plays, to showcase their mission: stripped-down, small ensemble versions of classic texts. We Happy Few’s Hamlet, directed by Hannah Todd, will be onstage July 13 – 28th at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in the heart of Washington, DC.

Chris Genebach (Hamlet).

Drawing from the text, We Happy Few is exploring the dark, violent side of Hamlet. The lines of reality blur when the question is asked – what if Hamlet is so consumed by his own thoughts that he cannot tell the difference between his own fantasies and what is actually happening? The script for this show is drastically cut to fit within the 90-minute parameters of Capital Fringe, and what remains are scenes that focus on Hamlet’s psychosis and his resulting relationships and conflicts. To accommodate this radical cut, some well-known characters and text have been eliminated, containing the show to explore just these themes.

Only six actors make up the cast of Hamlet, most playing two or more roles. Director Hannah Todd has strategically doubled or even tripled roles to show certain character parallels in regard to their relationships with Hamlet. The cast includes Chris Genebach in the lead role, supported by Gordon Adams, Sandy Bainum, Raven Bonniwell, Billy Finn, and James Whalen. Raven Bonniwell, a co-founder of We Happy Few as well as one of the show’s producers, will also be playing Ophelia among other characters. The focus on characters and their relationships means that the set, props, lights, sound, and costumes will be minimal but impactful.

The cast of six includes actors who all have experience in the Washington, DC theatre scene. Gordon Adams, a veteran actor with experience at Shakespeare Theatre Company and Doorway Arts Ensemble among other local theatres, tackles a quadruple-cast role with a heavy focus on Polonius.

With years of Source Festival and Capital Fringe experience, Raven Bonniwell will be portraying an experimental, strong Ophelia. Sandy Bainum*, who has a distinguished presence in the world of music and musical theatre in DC as well as Los Angeles and New York, perfects her dramatic skills as Gertrude. Chris Genebach*, a familiar face at many local theaters and currently playing Gibson in Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, brings an unexpected intensity to the title role. Billy Finn*, who just completed a role as Claudius in Faction of Fools’ Hamleccino, is well prepared for the switch to portray a stern Laertes. James Whalen* rounds out the cast as Claudius; Whalen is currently working at Theatre J in their History of Invulnerability.

Lighting design is by Jason Aufdem-Brinke and costumes by Adalia Tonneyk, both of whom have worked with major theatres in the DC metro area. Aufdem-Brinke boasts years of Capital Fringe experience as well as with professional area theatres, while Tonneyk consistently runs the costume shop at the Folger Theatre. Che Wernsman*, stage manager, also works locally in such venues as the Folger Theatre and the Kennedy Center. Noted stage combat instructor and choreographer Casey Kaleba provides the base for the show’s violent conflicts. Sound design for Hamlet is provided by Gregg Martin, who has designed and scored music for numerous theatres including Lean & Hungry Theatre Company. Martin has had much success with original composition including his first opera, Life in Death, which was performed at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

We Happy Few’s Hamlet is a playground for experimentation, and has a non-descript and minimal contemporary setting to put a spotlight on Shakespeare’s original words.

We Happy Few’s Hamlet is presented as a ‘find-your-own venue’ production in the 7th Annual Capital Fringe Festival- July 12 to 19, 2012. Tickets are $17.00.

Venue: Mead Theatre Lab – Flashpoint -916 G Street, NW, in Washington, DC.

For tickets,  click on the following performance times:


We Have Few DC’s website.

Follow us online for behind-the-scenes information about this show

*Equity Actors are appearing under an exclusive arrangement with Actors’ Equity Association.


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