In Ham’s Brave New Ward (他媽的，哈姆的，悲劇), a play that opens tonight at the Red House Theater (西門紅樓) in Taipei, a psychiatric patient suffers from Shakespearean delusions.
Ham, played by British expat Adam Raphael, lives in a psychiatric asylum and experiences hallucinations in which he believes he is Hamlet.
Since Ham only communicates by speaking in lines from The Tragedy of Hamlet, his doctors — played by Indiana Zhao (趙鴻欣), Cherry Lee (李純臻), Rick Lin (林皓陽) and American expat Jeremy Cook — decide to act out Shakespeare’s play with their patient in the hope of bringing him back to reality.
The production is the brainchild of female actor and director Tu Ye-fei (涂也斐), who leads the Corny Chicken E.W. Cross Culture Theater (玉米雞之意外跨文化劇團). The Hsinchu-based group, whose goofy-sounding name has to do with its roots as a children’s musical theater, moved back into contemporary theater in 2009 with the play Who Killed Confucius? (誰殺了孔夫子).
Tu has a master’s degree in theater and drama from National Taiwan University and wrote Ham’s Brave New Ward seven years ago while working for Crown Theater (皇冠小劇場), an experimental theater group in Taipei.
This time around, she has revised her play to accommodate the bilingual, bicultural cast — expect to hear lots of Shakespearean English intertwined with Mandarin. (There will be subtitles for both languages displayed for the production, which runs 80 minutes.)
But the obscurities of language shouldn’t be a problem, says Tu, who is counting on slapstick and zany costumes to keep the audience engaged. Adding to an already colorful mix will be a few video interludes and segments of Taiwanese Opera.
Corny Chicken is advertising Ham’s Brave New Ward as a comedy, but Tu hopes audiences come away with a little more than just an evening of laughs.
What: Ham’s Brave New Ward (他媽的，哈姆的，悲劇)
When and Where: Tonight at 7:30pm, tomorrow at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the Red House Theater (西門紅樓), 10 Chengdu Rd, Taipei City (台北市成都路10號); May 27 at 7:30pm and May 28 and May 29 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the Hsinchu City Cultural Affairs Bureau’s International Conference Hall (新竹市文化局國際會議廳), 1, Ln 15, Dongda Rd Sec 2, Hsinchu City (新竹市東大路二段15巷1號)
Admission: NT$500 (NT$400 with student ID). Tickets available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw
On THE NET: www.cornychicken.com
“I try to deal with the relationship between Hamlet and women,” Tu said. “For me, Hamlet is a very patriarchal character.”