That is the question. Not just for Hamlet but for Kent too.
What exactly is it that we’re trying to be? Many things is probably the right answer, but one of the bigger umbrellas that seems to cover a lot of that ground is being a vibrant university city.
From economic development to cultural amenities, universities have proven to be the engines that could when it came to getting communities up and over those hills of the recession. University cities have been one of the few shining stars on the city landscape and we’re working hard to get Kent’s star to shine brighter.
We spend a lot of time talking about the dollars and cents to be generated from the City’s and KSU’s strategic collaboration in re-connecting the Kent State campus to the central business district but university city living is more than shopping or dining out — it’s also got to have those life-affirming moments that enrich our time spent here on terra cotta.
That kind of fulfillment tends to come from the social and cultural amenities that are part and parcel of university cities. And to that end, I was pleased to hear that Hal DuBois, of DuBois bookstore fame, has waded into the cultural waters by creating a new town-gown initiative called Our Hamlet.
Our Hamlet evades easy definition because it’s an organic community university reading, dialoging and experiencing of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays and characters. It will be whatever it turns out to be — it’s the process that’s cool.
I can’t do it justice so here’s a description from the creator himself, Hal:
INGENSIA AND “OUR HAMLET”
Ingensia is a collaborative community program envisioned to promote and facilitate lifelong learning of the highest order.
“Our Hamlet” is the “pilot project” for the Ingensia program.
“Our Hamlet” is being planned and developed in cooperation with the Kent State University School of Theatre and Dance, whose primary interest is the development of an informed, prepared and engaged audience for their presentation of Hamlet in mid-April 2011. However, that link is expanding rapidly to other facets of the University, with interest and involvement capable and likely of expansion into an inter-disciplinary juggernaut!
The primary events in the “Our Hamlet” campaign are being designed in accordance with several core values at the heart of the Ingensia concept:
-That our academic understanding of the many individual, contextual, and pedagogical variables involved in the adult education process and current theories about that process require a continuing professional, well-documented investigation and study.
-That an understanding of and engagement in the process of lifelong learning is vital to individual well-being and to the health of economic, political, social and environment systems dependent on world and community-wide learning, knowledge, communication, understanding, and cooperation.
-That every effort should be made to provide individuals with the opportunity to reflect on excellent literature and other subjects that touch on the fundamental questions of philosophy through a flexible, sophisticated, evolving approach to the ideals of Ingensia and their application, utilizing a diverse combination of methods, technologies, perspectives, circumstances, and cultures.
-Adults engaged in lifelong learning provide a meaningful, motivating exemplar to others, especially traditional students who, more than ever, will need to stay on a constant learning path that develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are fundamental tools in their pursuit of happiness.
Kent, Ohio, the Tree City, is a perfect place to plant the seeds of Ingensia. It is a community dedicated to the education of its citizens and people from around the world, and to becoming engaged in the use and development its vast resources with vision, care, and a palpable spirit of cooperation and goodwill.
The reach of communications technology is being employed by Ingensia, and has the potential to reach beyond our GPS coordinates and residential population.
The “Our Hamlet” Calendar includes:
–Discover “Our Hamlet” on either Weds. Dec. 1st at KSU Music and Speech Room D207 or Thurs., December 2nd at The Tannery in downtown Kent. Both of these casual information sessions will start at 7:00 p.m. Learn more about Ingensia and “Our Hamlet” and meet some of the wonderful people already leading the effort.
-Wednesday, January 12th at 7:00 p.m. Road trip to the Cedar Lee cinema to see the National Theatre’s HD digital broadcast from the United Kingdom of their incredible production of Hamlet. Discounted tickets to view this NT Live event available on a first come basis by contacting Hal DuBois (methods below).
-Wednesday, February 2nd at 7:00 p.m. The first (and perhaps last) performance of the newly formed Riverside Reader’s Theatre, a collection of rank amateurs drawn from all the undesirable corners of the community to read the play aloud, as it was more-or-less intended to be. (Or not to be?) A casual, comfortable venue (with plenty of exits) will be determined based on projected attendance.
-Wednesday, February 9th at 7:00 p.m. The first meeting of participants in an “Our Hamlet” Study Group facilitated by Cathy Cikra and Hal DuBois. The group will meet once a week every week on Wednesday evenings through mid-April for a one-hour, in-depth discussion of the play’s many features and themes. Participation on a first committed, first served basis, but no prior experience with Shakespeare’s plays is required! Space is limited, although additional Study Groups will be formed if there is sufficient interest. There is little to no monetary cost involved.
-February-April 2011: Community Reading Groups. A flexible alternative to a Study Group, Reading Groups are already springing up around Kent. Many existing groups, including public institutions, businesses, service clubs, associations and churches are ideal bases for forming a group. The time is now to contact us so we can find the perfect opportunity for you! Attend the Reader’s Theatre event, and plan an hour or two to get together and share your ideas. When the time comes to participate in events surrounding the KSU production in mid-April, you’ll be ready, willing and able to get the most out the experience!
-Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. “Café Elsinore” All of our Reading and Study Groups will meet and actively engage students currently reading the play in local high schools and at KSU. This will be an event! Mark your calendar now!
-April 15-23, 2011: Hamlet, directed by Mark Monday, at Kent State University!
Get engaged! Tell us you’re interested, intrigued or uncontrollably excited by calling 330-673-4730, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Spread the word, join a Reading or Study Group, become a “Spark” or attend a special event or two. “Our Hamlet” is a limited engagement and a unique opportunity to advance yourself and your community!