Matadero / Madrid, 2009

Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Tomaž Pandur

It is hard to escape the pre-consieved picture of how the set design for Hamlet should look like. Each of us witnessed at least ten sets of Hamlet in our lives. The concept that seamed the only appropriate for us was to avoid the design of space but to concentrate on the atmosphere, the visual interpretation of mental pain. The interconnected physical and mental surrounding for the tragedy was the starting point for the design. The water as the primary material for the set was immediately recognized by Tomaz who was also focused more on the creation of inner landscapes than on the historical or geographical definition of the context of the play. On the other hand, the heavy clouds over wet lowlands was obviously the ideal background for the play, and Shakespeare understood it very well. The first idea for the counterpoint of the black sea that encloses the characters was to use the send islands that are gradually covered by the water, but the realization proved to be too complicated and un-plyable for the actors. The wooden platforms of the peers that lead nowhere emerged as the best solution for the depiction of melancholy, providing the optimal stability for mis-en-scene. The wood as a natural material works visually very good with the water, while the audience, based on their experience, simultaneously perceive the construction's inevitable doom in slow decay of wood submerged into water. Vast space of Matadero enabled us to extend the water pool into width usually unreachable in standard theater context, resulting in feeling of endless water surface. The wooden platforms were positioned diagonal in order to provide spatial dynamics and possible dramatic tension for the variously juxtaposed actors. The sliding curtains were added because of two basic theatric needs, the visual change between the scenes and the covering for the enters and exits of the actors. Furthermore, the lushness and the luxury of the fabrics serves as an excellent attribute for both the definition of royal surroundings and also the presence of ghostly character(s). The illuminating table serves its primary need but also acts as an important light source for number of scenes. Falling of the curtain is, in the sense of set design at least, the pinnacle of the show, not merely because of the visual effect, but even more because of the profound symbolic and emotional meaning. All that was thoroughly hidden have come to be seen, the rest is silence.