Shakespeare On Salt:Apollinaire in The Park Tackles ‘Hamlet’ in First Shakespeare Production,Partially On The Salt Pile

By Seth Daniel

As the cast and crew started rehearsing for ‘Hamlet’ in the PORT Park last week, the mildly sunny day soon gave way to a heavy, thick fog that rolled in off the Chelsea Creek and covered the park and the s

Actor Brooks Reeves (center) will play ‘Hamlet’ in Apollinaire’s Theatre in the Park production this month, which kicked off last night, July 13, at the PORT Park. The unique production has Hamlet giving his famous speech on top of one of the salt piles.

Actor Brooks Reeves (center) will play ‘Hamlet’ in Apollinaire’s Theatre in the Park production this month, which kicked off last night, July 13, at the PORT Park. The unique production has Hamlet giving his famous speech on top of one of the salt piles.

ets put in place for the production.

Brooks Reeves, 33, who is playing Hamlet, looked around at the surreal surroundings, heard a fog horn in the distance and said, “This is going to be very interesting,” he recalled.

“Sometimes you get thunderstorms and sometimes you get happy accidents,” he said this week. “Being outside is challenging and extremely rewarding. It’s especially rewarding when the weather is just right. The other day we were rehearsing and fog just started drifting heavy into the park. It was so beautiful and the sound travels so well in the fog. You could talk regularly on the set and be heard at the other end of the park.”

‘Hamlet’ by Apollinaire premeired for this summer’s run in the PORT Park on Marginal Street Wednesday night, July 13, and will continue until July 31 from Wednesdays to Sundays at 8 p.m. and is free thanks to generous donors and supporters of Apollinaire. Those interested in taking in the interactive, moving production are invited to bring a blanket and walking shoes – as there are 10 different locations within the Park that the audience will have to travel to.

“There are probably around 10 locations we’ll have sets on, and that means that the lighting and setup has been very challenging,” said Director Danielle Fauteaux Jacques. “This year is going to be very interesting because Eastern Salt has been working with us to create sets on top of the salt. We just did that on Monday. It’s going to be really fun and adds something very unique. It’s also an industrial landscape and so you have things going on around you. Even at Mary O’Malley Park we were also in a shipping lane. Sometimes having a massive boat passing in the background just adds to the atmosphere. It can be an exciting to have the things like that happen that aren’t expected.”

Jacques said it is notable because for the first time in more than a decade, they’ll be presenting a Shakespearean play – and on the Bard’s 300th birthday to boot.

“It is the first Shakespeare play we’ve ever done,” she said. “It’s different than a lot of plays because its something you’ve been familiar with all your life. We thought a lot about it before we decided to do it, but as you get further and further into it and deeper into it, you see the story and things jump out at you that you never really caught before.”

Reeves, who is now in his fifth show with Apollinaire and his 21st show in Greater Boston since moving here from Wyoming, said the moving sets are quite interesting in the outdoor setting.

“We’re pretty much using every part of the park except the jungle gym,” he said. “The ‘To Be or Not to Be’ speech I give is on a large salt pile that I have to climb up. The graveyard scene has also been transformed into this moving salt structure. The show is really fun. Don’t expect to just sit down and be there. Expect to move around and be part of the action. Expect expert sword fighting and a great cast and crew.”

Jacques said that those watching will have to move, and that’s part of the program with many Apollinaire productions and has been a hallmark of their outdoor shows the last 13 years. Even so, she said anyone who needs a wheelchair or walker will be able to get one from the crew. Those items will be on hand to borrow.

“There’s a lot of movement in the play and we go back and forth from the amphitheater,” she said. “When we leave the amphitheater, we go to numerous locations in the park and then move back to the amphitheater. It’s going to be a fun production run.”

This is Apollinaire Theatre Company’s 13th year of offering free bilingual productions in English and Spanish. In anticipation of the fall opening of its new youth theater, this summer our Chelsea Youth Theatre students will present the Spanish production on July 30 and 31 at 6 p.m.

Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and beach chairs, and a picnic to enjoy along with the harbor views.

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