“Did you know that the word d-o-t-h is pronounced [duth], not [dawth]?” This quote, vocalized by Hamlet cast member Ellen Poplavska, encompasses the very spirit of the Youth Shakespeare Society of Pittsburgh: meticulous, uncommon, and just a bit wacky.
Formed in 2019 by a band of high school students, the YSSP aims to allow Pittsburgh’s youth to more easily develop an interest in and interact with classical works of literature, such as those of Shakespeare. It does this by giving teens opportunities to engage in the play production process, partaking in director, cast, and crew roles
The YSSP’s winter rendition of Hamlet was directed by senior Theo Fantozzi, with help from assistant director Ella Mizera, fight choreographer Johnna Lefebvre, wardrobe and set designer Sophie Jamrom, and sound technicians Adrian Krell and PJ Squire. It featured a cast of 11 of Allegheny County’s most talented performers, ranging from middle school to early college. After 3 months of continuous preparation from the cast and crew, the show ran for two nights (December 21st and 22nd) at the Shaler North Hills Library. It was incredibly evident how much effort each member of the team put in after watching the seamless, riveting, and passionate performance they put on.
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (or just Hamlet) is a centuries-old play, written by none other than the infamous William Shakespeare. In it, the king of Denmark is killed, causing his ghost to appear to Hamlet, the king’s son. The ghost tells him to avenge his death by killing Claudius, the new king and Hamlet’s uncle. In an effort to execute his late father’s plan, Hamlet begins to act insane. This concerns his uncle, who then devises a plan to kill Hamlet. The play ends in a duel where (spoiler alert!) everyone dies.
On the cast was one of Obama’s very own, Grace Randall, who played Ophelia, daughter of the king’s “right-hand man” Polonius and past love interest of Hamlet. According to Randall, she auditioned just for fun after being sent the link by a friend but ended up learning about her capabilities and limits as an actress. In the future, she wants to partake in the YSSP’s spring production and Obama’s spring musical.
Visit their website or reach them on Instagram and Twitter to learn more about them and their future productions.