Theatre company brings Hamlet to Norton

Since 2001, Aquila Theatre Company has performed a Shakespeare production every year at UNA.

Aquila will return to Norton Auditorium once again to present the tragedy “Hamlet” Feb. 15.

The play follows Prince Hamlet of Denmark as he takes revenge on his uncle, King Claudius, who murdered Hamlet’s father to take the throne.

Jayne Jackson, assistant director of scheduling and events, said she describes the play as a “brooding, emotional family drama.”

She said while the actors use authentic language from the plays, they take the shows out of Shakespearean times.

“They do all of their shows with a different period twist, and half the fun is trying to see where they’re going to take the next show,” Jackson said.

Admission will be $5 for students and $10 for general admission. Tickets are available at the UNA Bookstore, Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, Coldwater Books and at the door.

Founded in London in 1991, Aquila began touring internationally before moving to New York City in 1999. Every year, Aquila visits 50 to 60 cities in the U.S., according to its official website.

Aquila has been able to perform at UNA through the Albert S. Johnston, Jr. Endowment, which promotes Shakespeare at UNA through educational opportunities, including professional Shakespeare productions.

“This group came (in 2001) and did such a fabulous job,” said Bret Jennings, executive director of student affairs auxiliary programs. “Every time (we) try to find something comparable or better, we have not had much luck.”

He said UNA reaches out to other Alabama colleges to give interested groups of students and educators reserved sections to allow them to see Aquila’s shows.

“To have professional theatre come into Florence, Alabama, at the price that it is for people to see and expose (themselves) to, it’s a great opportunity,” Jennings said.

Jackson said while at UNA, Aquila also teaches a group of theatre and Shakespeare students a 90-minute class, with topics varying from movement to Shakespeare.

“It’s a really awesome opportunity for the students here to get a chance to work with professionals outside of this area,” she said.

Jennings said even if people have seen an Aquila production before, they can still get a new experience from seeing another performance.

“They just get better and better,” he said. “Even if you saw “Romeo and Juliet” 12 years ago, and you saw it again last year, it’s a completely different cast (and) completely different set.”

Junior Jacob Skinner said it is important to see a Shakespeare play because of the knowledge one can gain about the playwright’s work.

“In his time, the way (Shakespeare) was able to put emotions into words and actions was completely unheard of, and it’s part of the reason everyone still talks about him today,” he said. “Understanding Shakespeare and his work is one of the most enlightening experiences a person can have.”