Prince Hamlet

Artistic Director’s Notes

Theatre isn’t just the art of the story but the art of how the story is told.  When you want a story told in an absolutely unique, absolutely game-changing way, you turn to a team of theatre makers who are guaranteed to blow the doors off anything they put their minds to. Ravi Jain and Why Not Theatre are firmly situated in this camp. So, although a new version of Hamlet wasn’t initially forefront in my mind for programming this season, I knew that if Ravi had his hands on it, this production would not be your average Hamlet. And Ravi and his team deliver. By refocusing the storyteller role to Horatio, and with the brilliant and disarming Dawn Jani Birley in that role, this revisionist Hamlet makes us see the collapse of Elsinore in a whole new light; a light so striking that I consider this particular Hamlet to be a shining example of a brave, new, Canadian work. With the company’s ingenious new take on each and every character, a provocative design and Ravi’s riveting interpretation, I hope you find it as thrilling as I do. 

Director’s Notes

Classic plays are universal. They transcend time, language, borders and cultures. At the core of a classic is a central question that addresses fundamental reflections on who we are as humans – to quote Shakespeare they hold a “mirror up to nature”.

Without knowing it, when watching a new production of a classic, many artists and audiences who’ve seen earlier versions of a play seek the Xerox copy of what they remember. And for a long time, this limit to our imaginations excluded many talented artists from being able to interpret these stories, and limited the resonance and contemporary meaning of the plays for audiences.

For Prince Hamlet, we wanted to set our imaginations free in order to rediscover this “old” story anew. Our ensemble defies conventional casting. The incredible Christine Horne stars as Hamlet, and Horatio (the central character of this adaptation) is played by the sensational Dawn Jani Birley. Our production is bilingual, both English and ASL are fully integrated, which is rare, and provides unique access to Shakespeare’s text for both Deaf and hearing audiences. By changing the perspective of the storytellers, we break expectations, discover new aspects of the story and contemporize it – without changing the language or story itself. 

Tonight, our aim is to have more people see themselves in the “mirror” being held “up to nature” and in doing so reflect on deeper truths contained in this play, confront the history of the theatre, and more importantly, reveal something deeper about the audience themselves.

We hope you enjoy it, and thank you for coming to the theatre. 


Why Not Theatre

Why Not Theatre is an agile, international theatre company based in Toronto, Canada, rooted in the values of innovation, community and collaboration. Our work is inventive, cross-cultural, and reflects our passion for the exploration of difference. We challenge the status quo by examining what stories are being told, and who is telling them. More than just a theatre company, we develop creative strategies to build a healthier and stronger arts ecology. We MAKE and tour critically-acclaimed and award-winning new work, SHARE resources with other companies and artists to produce and tour their work, and PROVOKE change through new producing models and the presentation of work for new audiences. We are led by a core team of Founding Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Managing Director Owais Lightwala and Executive Producer Kelly Read.

Artistic and General Director: Ravi Jain

Managing Director: Owais Lightwala

Executive Producer: Kelly Read

Administrator: Kira Allen

Associate Producer: Kevin Matthew Wong

Associate Producer: Tom Arthur Davis

Associate Producer: Taliesin McEnaney

Associate Artistic Director (Metcalf Foundation Intern): Miriam Fernandes

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Pilot Supporter: Kingfisher Foundation

Ignite Partners: Blake & Susan Hutcheson + Bea Santos, Tamara Zielony, Cooper Equipment, Chanchlani Foundation, Charles & Marilyn Baillie

Why Not Theatre acknowledges the support of the Performing Arts Residency program at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

ASL-English Interpreting Services

ASL – English interpreting services for Prince Hamlet provided by Gloria Brifoglio, Kelly Ferguson, Sheila Johnston, Kate Lewis and Sean Power and funded by the Finnish Government (KELA).


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