Sophia Navratil ’21 received a We Act Grant for the summer of 2020. Read her testimonial below about her experience producing a modern rendition of Hamlet.
This summer I was able to produce a modern movie rendition of Hamlet, despite all of the unusual circumstances of quarantine, thanks to the Laspa Center. When applying for the We Act Grant in the winter, I could not have predicted being sent home in the spring for quarantine, nor could I have predicted how important and transformative this movie would prove to be for me.
I began writing the script for this movie in the summer of 2019. By this summer, it had become a summer ritual between my friends and me to make movies that molded Shakespeare plays with our own suburban lore. In 2017, we made our own rendition of Romeo and Juliet. In 2018, we produced a fantastical Midsummer Night’s Dream. The summer of 2020 would likely be our last summer at home, so a somber and reflective play like The Tragedy of Hamlet felt like the right tone to take on in rounding out the trilogy.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells a story of returning to a home that has irreparably changed and descending into madness while trying to reckon with that. It grapples with themes of loss, grief, loneliness, and distance. In quarantine, it felt like the whole world was contending with all of these emotions at once. With the Laspa Center’s approval, I set out to produce my rendition of Hamlet, only this time in a socially distanced world. I was able to assemble a cast of 6 people, including my brother, and one friend doing audio with me. We spent the whole summer together trying to make it work, and it paid off. We workshopped the script outside of my house late into the night, brainstormed how to choreograph scenes so that no one would be at risk of transmitting disease, biked to filming locations, and wiped down equipment every day with Clorox wipes. Though most people involved in the project had been childhood friends, none of us knew each other as well at the beginning of the summer as we did by the end. We had to have so much trust in each other to make this movie happen, and this trust brought us closer together. Despite the long hours, we stuck around after shoots to deconstruct the state of the world and get to know each other again. This project kept me afloat this summer and became a medium for connection and catharsis amidst the pandemic.