Students from around the world breathe new life into Hamlet
Shakespeare’s, Hamlet will be performed by Bridgeport International Academy with students from the University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College, Bridge Academy and St. Anne’s Academy on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m., at the University of Bridgeport’s Dana Hall.
Bridgeport International Academy’s Drama Program, under the direction of Lena Yasutake, has created a rendition of Hamlet that is raw and relatable. “It’s definitely a very iconic role” said Joshua van Geldern, who is starring in the lead role. “When you think of acting, the image of Hamlet with his skull often comes to mind.” With half of BIA’s student body participating, the show gives both international and local students the opportunity to express themselves and collaborate.
The BIA Drama Program aims to equip students with professional skills as well as create performance opportunities. Students take headshots, write resumes and have opportunities to intern in stagecraft or costume design. The costumes created for Hamlet are all made in-house with the help of the students at Bridgeport International Academy’s Costume Shop. The internship program is also open to students from other schools. The Costume Shop is eco-friendly and community-conscious. All the costumes that will be seen on stage are made from upcycled, repurposed material that has been donated or purchased by the school from local charities and beautifully constructed by volunteer seamstresses. Yasutake, who also designs the costumes, says “yes, the costumes are amazing, but that’s not enough. We want each one to be beautiful, meaningful, and sustainable.”
While the performance showcases students from China, Korea, and Japan, it also has very strong roots in the Bridgeport community. Local artist Michelle Nishiwaki, an award-winning graphic designer, donated the design for the Hamlet T Shirt being made by Mark’s Art in Blackrock. It’s not just local businesses, seniors and artists getting in on the act; artists from all over the country have donated original works to be sold at the play to raise funds for the Drama Program. Yasutake is bowled over by the support.
Dr. David Burton, a chemistry professor at the University of Bridgeport, is taking his wife Dr. Kathleen Burton, who teaches French at Yale University, for their anniversary. “I’ve never seen it” he says “so I’m quite looking forward to it.” This is a dark and gritty take on Hamlet so be sure to leave little ones at home. According to the headmaster of the school, Dr. LaGrotteria, “you are going to have a transforming experience. I have attended rehearsals and I can tell you it’s going to be great!”
About Bridgeport International Academy
Positioned adjacent to the beautiful seaside campus of the University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport International Academy is a private college preparatory high school with access to university facilities and courses. Bridgeport International Academy, now in its 20 th year, is a place where students meet the world. Diversity and character education are hallmarks of the institution, with an integrated student body that are from the United States, Korea, China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam. For more information visit bridgeportacademy.org.