Hamlet on Alcatraz Turns Play Into Experience

Alcatraz isn't just a former prison and tourist trap: for the next few weeks, it's also a stage.

The weird topography of the island is apparently well-suited to a staging of Hamlet, with actors rushing around on dilapidated buildings and lurking in the foliage. Audience members must rush about the island to follow the action, providing a workout for all parties.

The show is being staged by We Players, a troupe with the reputation for transplanting drama into unexpected settings. A fight in "Romeo and Juliet" was staged in a Stamford cafeteria, and they put on Macbeth at Fort Point. Despite the show being sold out, the troupe will offer unclaimed tickets to members of its mailing list -- so get thee to a nunnery, er, mailing list.

The production takes place at night, so bring warm clothes and comfortable shoes. Ushers with lanterns guide audience members from one location to the next.

Critics have loved the presentation so far, pointing out that the island setting adds to the story's sense of isolation. The memory of former prisoners also heightens the ghostly feel.

Meanwhile, drama of another sort is unfolding in the sky above Alcatraz. Two peregrine falcons have recently been sighted by Alcatraz birdwatchers, which could mean a bloody showdown with the island's other predators, ravens. Or actors.

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