New Yorkers have long had the summertime privilege of Shakespeare In the Park, but only recently have Madrileños caught on. Like NYC, the city of Madrid boasts an abundance of independent theater, a beautiful park and now, as of this autumn, the two cultural assets combined with Shakespeare performed in the Parque del Retiro. But Madrid's approach differs from the metropolis across the Atlantic in a few key ways.
Manuel Angel Conejero, the world-renowned playwright and president of the Fundacion Shakespeare takes the production of Hamlet into his hands, casting 13 young actors of all different backgrounds (most notably, a young American as Ophelia who speaks English as she goes insane). The play is self-reflexive to the nth degree; it unfolds as a rehearsal of a rehearsal with the director himself sitting on the stage commenting on the production as it progresses.
Even Hamlet rehearses his actions before he does them, obsessing over the different outcomes as if he were part of a choose-your-own-adventure story. "What we want is to open the theater into a center of reflection and practice, and turn Shakespeare into a didactic adventure," Angel Conejero told El Pais.
In spite of the play's avant-garde structure, the actors use a strict "Golden Age" approach to their presentation, paying close attention to their rhythm and meter. It's a combination—mixing classical with cutting edge—that has become the obsession of Spanish theater as of late.