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"Hamlet" Wins Six Awards for Outstanding Production

The April production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, by The Pomona College Theatre Department for The Claremont Colleges, has won six Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) awards.

During the play’s four-day run, Ben Acland (Pomona ’07), who played Hamlet, and Zarah Kulczycki (Pitzer ’09), who played Ophelia were recognized for Meritorious Achievement in Acting by the regional ACTF adjudicator, Dr. Terry Smith. This qualifies the two actors to advance to the regional competition next February to compete for the Irene Ryan Award, an important nationally recognized acting award. If either wins this regionally, he or she is qualified to go to the national event in Washington, D.C. and compete with the winners of all the ACTF participating schools of which there are a large number.

"This was the best production of Hamlet I have ever seen at a college," Smith, the adjudicator, said in his critique. "Usually the person playing the role of Hamlet is a graduate student at least or more likely, 30 years old.” Acland is 21.

The entire show of Hamlet also received a Meritorious Award for Ensemble. According to Professor Betty Bernhard, who directed Hamlet, “This is a greatly treasured award because theatre is a collaborative event. The character of Hamlet was supported with excellent costumes, scenery, lights, live music, and 23 other actors. The award attests to the high quality of the production as a whole.”

Other awards for the Hamlet production included Angel Herrera (Pitzer ’07), Meritorious Award for Set Design; Kev Tutunjian (Pitzer ’07), Meritorious Award for Design for puppet and ghost design; and Hannah Albert (Scripps ‘09) and MaryAlison Weintraub (Scripps ‘09), Meritorious Award for Stage Management.

Ben Aclund and Zarah Kulczycki were also invited to do a "showcase" of 10 minutes of Hamlet, during the ACTF Region VIII Festival in 2008. According to Bernhard, “It is a big honor to be invited to showcase from a production. It doesn't happen often.” There are more than 200 colleges, universities and academies in Pomona’s region, ACTF Region VIII.

The American College Theatre Festival judging of Hamlet occurred during its regular run, April 5-8. The cast did not know which day the judge was attending.

The Pomona College Theatre Department for The Claremont Colleges is the only five-college theatre department in the country. All students participate as performers, playwrights, designers, dramaturges, backstage crew, directors, and/or audience members. A bequest by Charles and Marian Holmes enables the department to enrich the curriculum with guest artists, companies and teachers.