‘Hamlet Z’ – A New Version of ‘Hamlet’ with Zombies in Pre-Production

“Hamlet Z,” a reinvention of Shakespeare’s classic play featuring Denmark under siege by zombies, is available now for purchase on Amazon.com, and is in pre-production for a 2013 stage production in Austin, Texas by Assembled Productions, LLC.

In “Hamlet Z,” the murder of the rightful King by his brother Claudius, and the incestuous marriage of the Queen to Claudius is such an abomination in the eyes of God that it has disrupted the natural order of the cosmos, resulting in the dead rising from the grave and taking revenge on Denmark.

Assembled Productions, LLC is currently scouting production venues, creating set and costume designs, and seeking investors for a 2013 production in Austin, Texas. Gil Austin, the co-author of “Hamlet Z” and founder of Assembled Productions, LLC, explains his motivation for writing this new version.

The supernatural elements in ‘Hamlet’ were already there,” says author Gil Austin. “The ghost of Hamlet’s father haunting the castle is famous, but the seed of the idea for ‘Hamlet Z’ came from a line in the opening scene, where they recall that ‘the sheeted dead did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets’ when Caesar died. It struck me that the zombie meme is a perfect metaphor for Hamlet’s indecision, his moral paralysis.” The metaphor becomes more concrete in Act II when, recognizing the irony of that resonance, Hamlet adopts the guise of a zombie as part of his “antic disposition,” his appearance of madness.

Austin maintains that “Hamlet Z” is not a literary paste-up like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” “I would never have attempted something this epic in scale just for parody. It was vital to me that ‘Hamlet Z’ should remain true, stylistically and thematically, to Shakespeare’s original masterpiece. That meant writing everything in blank verse, blending the new dialogue as seamlessly as possible with the original, and keeping the characters consistent between the two versions. It was a daunting task, but in the end, I think it works.

While “Hamlet Z” is already available in Kindle and trade paperback formats on Amazon.com, Austin does not feel that prior knowledge of the revised plot will deter audiences in 2013. “Reading it is great, but nothing will be as good as seeing it live on stage. I’m excited by the potential for a fresh look at the character of Hamlet, and the rich opportunities for creative staging presented by this scenario. And I think audiences will be excited as well.