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Naked, all-male ‘Hamlet’ to play Prospect Park

To thine own self be nude: Actors Miles Butler, Max Wingert, and director Pitr Strait prepare for their in-the-buff take on the Bard.
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What a piece of meat is a man!

An all-male group of actors wearing only their birthday suits will perform a nude version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in Prospect Park next month. The thespians will bare their bodkins during four productions of the Bard’s tragic play, starting on Aug. 10, and the actor playing Laertes says that the lack of pantaloons will force the audience and the actors to concentrate on the words, words, words.

“It raises the stakes of the play because as actors that is the one time that we are totally in the most vulnerable state, we have nothing to protect us,” said Mike Press. “It also raises the stakes for the viewer, because they have to get over the fact we are naked and really listen to what it is we are saying.”

Last year, Torn Out Theater group used an all-female troupe for its production of “The Tempest,” so it seemed only fair to give men the same opportunity to explore body positivity through the words of the Bard, said director Pitr Strait — and he think “Hamlet” is the perfect play for those themes.

“Shakespeare had a lot of themes he returned to over and over, and one of the biggest ones was trying to be yourself, to learn who you are, learning to truly be yourself — to thy own self be true. That freedom to be yourself has a lot to do with the body,” said Strait, who lives in Park Slope. “We wanted to find a story that has this idea of trying to be free, even when everyone in the world is telling you that you’re crazy — to tell a story where men are free in their own bodies.”

The actors will begin the show in costume, but will show off more and more of their too, too solid flesh as the show goes on, said Strait. The lack of costumes will be especially challenging for the actors playing female characters, who will have to use body language to embody the more restricted life of a woman in the 1500s.

Presenting the Bard in the buff may make some a little wary, but pushing people’s boundaries is the point of art, said Strait.

“Art is supposed to make people uncomfortable — I really love that idea if your life is stable and secure then maybe it’s good to have art come in and shake you up a bit, and if your life is full of anxiety and worry then art should be there to say you’re not alone, it’s okay to be who you are,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to do.”

“Hamlet” at Prospect Park’s Music Pagoda (at the north end of the Nethermead, enter at Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Road in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, www.tornouttheater.org). Aug. 10–12 at 5:30 pm, Aug. 13 at 2 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, July 18, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Gimme from Yourz says:
I am so there yo! Gon get me a big fat bear and eet dat azzzzzz yo!
July 18, 9:30 am
Cookie from Prospect Park says:
Nauseating! The community, children, families shouldn't have to be subjected to anyone in a public park running around in the nude they want to put on a nude show should take it to an indoor theater. So-called thespians seeking attention in an offensive way. People have the right to go to the park and not expect to see a group of men in the nude. Worse yet not one is that attractive.
July 18, 11:34 am
Katherine from Prospect Park says:
Hi, Cookie, not to worry! There will be ample signage and ushers at every path leading up to the Music Pagoda, so nobody will be surprised by the nudity or forced to watch. Prospect Park is huge, so people wanting to avoid the show will have no problem finding another space to enjoy the park.

I was an usher for their show last year, and many families I met were thrilled to have the chance to show their children that their bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. Not one person seemed offended or upset at the prospect of seeing naked bodies in the park, and a number of people were excited to watch some Shakespeare for free!

As for the "attractiveness" of the bodies, the nudity in the shows isn't there to sexualize the actors or to titillate the audience, and so whether someone finds the bodies attractive isn't relevant to the show. I'm sure you can find plenty of nude bodies you find attractive on the internet :)
July 18, 2:28 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
The nethermead is a good region for this.
July 18, 4:19 pm
Lewis from Williamsburg says:
Dear Cookie,

I feel bad for you being so ashamed of the human body. It must be utterly traumatizing for you to shower. I hope one day you overcome your compulsive avoidance of nudity.
July 18, 4:23 pm
Morris from Mill Basin says:
Honey, you forgot to duck.
July 18, 8 pm
Samir Kabir from downtown says:
Will they have sex with one another on stage? Perhaps a participant from the audience? You get what you pay for.
July 19, 6:09 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
That great line from Shakespeare ' That looks just like a penis. . .only smaller!'
July 20, 6:44 pm
Petey from Sunset Park says:
And the point of naked Hamlet is????? Looks like just to get some cheap attention. Can't impress with my acting ability? I will just take my clothes off?
July 21, 4:37 pm
Rufus Leaning from BH says:
Petey its artartart!
July 21, 10:26 pm

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