"One Ham Manlet" — Ryan Kathman Talks Shakespeare, and How to Reduce Him


Kathman vs Kathman
  • Kathman vs Kathman
Ryan Kathman's speaking my language.

Kathman teaches at St. Benedict's. He's also an actor, and the creator of One Ham Manlet, a comedy forward solo take on Hamlet opening at Theatre Memphis. The words are Shakespeare's, but reduced from it's nearly 4-hour original length,  to a hearty, 90-minute Shakespeare sauce.  "The thing theater has over film, and it’s not embraced enough, is the audience’s imaginations," he says, describing his approach to the source material. "We want them to fill in the gaps."

Kathman teaches his students that actors sometimes need to make their own opportunities. He originally performed One Ham Manlet for them. The solo solo show is, in some measure, the teacher taking his own advice. He knew he wasn't getting younger and wondered if anybody else might give him a chance to play Hamlet. Or Ophelia, for that matter. Polonius? Horatio? The famous skull?

"I'm one of those people who sometimes thinks its unfortunate that we categorize Shakespeare's plays into comedies and tragedies," Kathman says. One of his goals from the beginning was to highlight just how funny tragedy can be. "The best productions of Shakespeare I’ve seen have embraced a blend," he says, hoping that playing many characters with many voices affords comic opportunities while playing into one of the play's big questions — is Hamlet mad?

One Ham Manlet isn't just 90-Minutes of Kathman talking to himself. He also fights himself too. And puts on puppet shows. And... whatever it takes.

"What makes what I'm doing unique is is how I can wink at the conventions of a one-man show, and find theatrical solutions to problems like, how do you have a sword fight with yourself? How do you have a play within the play? How do you have the appearance of a ghost?"

How do you have a sword fight with yourself?

"I attached a piece of metal bracket to my belt," Kathman says. "I made it a rapier dagger fight so whenever I make a play with the rapier I can hit the metal with my dagger. You get this foley effect of blades sounding like they’re hitting one another."

This weekend's Fri. & Saturday only. 8:30 start time, not matter what you may see elsewhere. After this week everything returns to normal. (seriously)



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