Written by Kyle Gerstel | June 24th, 2021
Hamleton is a teen-made online musical comedy that follows The Bard’s characters as they try to abolish his tropes, but end up perpetuating them instead. The show reinvents Hamlet by addressing similar themes with a playful sense of humor, making it more accessible to modern audiences. It also comments on the prominence of “the Shakespeare brand” in society as well as the contrast between “high” and “low” art through the juxtaposition of Shakespeare and the medium of YouTube musical parodies.
When the pandemic hit, I immediately tried to find a new long-form writing project (as well as an excuse to see my friends). After writing the opening number on a whim, I outlined the show (which at the time featured three storylines, including a love triangle between Romeo, Juliet, and Shakespeare) and started working on the lyrics and scenes bit by bit. After I finished writing in June, I gathered friends to rehearse over Zoom in July and distributed the final performance via YouTube. Since then, the piece was included in New World Shakespeare Company’s 2021 Fake Shake Festival as well as TeenTix’s 2021 Teen Arts and Opportunities Fair.
In addition to being fun (and it definitely is), storytelling enriches our perspective of the world whether one is creating, performing, or participating as an audience member. By creating this opportunity to translate Shakespeare’s stories to the modern day, I’ve been able to experience more theater and give back to the community that cultivated my love for it. Enjoy the show!
Kyle Gerstel is a 14-year-old theater geek who couldn’t be happier to have found Penguin in 2021. He recently directed his school’s first musical in over a decade as well as the online musical Hamleton. When not participating in the Penguin Advisory Council, you can find him acting in Youth Theatre Northwest productions, writing reviews for the TeenTix Newsroom, or working on his poetry book.