Roger Bernat, Yan Duyvendak


Yan Duyvendak “Dreams Come True” Association, Geneva,
and “Tochka Dostupa” (Point of Access) Festival, St. Petersburg
Presented in the frame of Russian Case 2020
Director: Roger Bernat , Yan Duyvendak
Set designer: Roger Bernat, Yan Duyvendak in collaboration with Sylvie Kleiber
The court hearing devoted to the murder of Polonius is now in progress. Instead of the play there are case files where Shakespeare’s plot is intertwined with the circumstances of real murder from modern legal practice. Three actors are needed for the roles of the accused, the accuser and the witness – Hamlet, Ophelia and Gertrude – as well as legal practitioners: the judge, the prosecutor, representatives of the defense and of the prosecution. The rest is left to Russian laws and the civil responsibility of six members of the jury randomly picked from the audience at the end of case presentation.
The Russian version of the notorious project by Belgian director Yan Duyvendak is remarkable, starting with the fact that only in Russia judges refused to participate in the performance and defense attorneys took their places. The project reveals the similarity of theatrical and judicial instruments. For Russia, where the 7th Studio trial has been ongoing for a few years, the project is particularly relevant.

Anastasia Pauker

The real trial in the case of Hamlet`s crime will be unfolding in front of the spectators. The main characters of the proceedings - Hamlet, Ophelia and Gertrude - are played by actors. All legal personnel are real judges, prosecutors, lawyers and psychiatrists who run practice in St. Petersburg. The conviction of Hamlet depends on the decision of a group of jurors who will be randomly selected from the audience.


In a residential area of a big city, in the midst of a wedding night, Hamlet kills Polonius, the father of his beloved Ophelia. The only witness to the crime is Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. Ophelia sues Hamlet, but he swears that it was a result of an accident. Almost three years later, the trial begins.
What influences the choice we make: the speaker’s eloquence, our bias towards compassion, or educational level? The project explores specificities of the modern judicial system, but at the same time it enables the viewers to show a civic position and check the subjectivity of their own decisions. The line between private and public space is erased, combining theatrical and everyday reality.


In essence, the “Please Continue (Hamlet)” project is a simple concept. Yan Duyvendak and Roger Bernat took as a basis the idea that is on the surface: the trial is always a bit of theater. The outcome of the case, especially if the jury is considering it, may depend on the oratory and acting skills of the acting lawyers, witnesses, plaintiffs and the accused themselves. The ability to persuade is developed in each participant of the trial to a different extent. The same can be said about professional actors who take part in the performance…

St. Petersburg Theatre Journal

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