By Steve Hubrecht 

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You may have heard about budget cuts hurting the arts. Depending on your interests, that may make you angry or it may make you roll an indifferent eye. But during the upcoming David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) senior theatre class play, it’ll probably make you laugh.

That’s because this year the class is performing the ‘Hamlet Thrill-Ma-Geddon’, which they describe as a comedic, capitalist parody of William Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Hamlet.’

The ‘Hamlet Thrill-Ma-Geddon’ follows the travails of a high school drama class that see their already meagre finances obliterated by funding cuts. Their creative, capitalistically cold-blooded solution is to raise the cash by selling out ‘Hamlet’ to big business sponsors. The results leave the tale of Hamlet, well, a little different than what you remember from your Grade 12 English class. Mid-scene commercial break, anyone?

Like most parodies, there is perhaps a small bite of truth to the satire, at least in a general sense. Or as Grade 12 student Zoëy Donovan put it: “if we did fund the arts more, then maybe we wouldn’t have to pervert Shakespeare. Or at least it wouldn’t be so easy to make a comedy out of perverting Shakespeare for corporate gain.”

The new, plutocratically-induced plot changes are hilarious, if not logical.

“My death, for instance, is kind of pointless. Both times,” said Grade 11 student Jules Turtle.

Wait, both times?

Yes, both times: Turtle plays the role of Polonius, the blithering advisor who ends up on the wrong end of Hamlet’s sword in the original ‘Hamlet.’ In the ‘Hamlet Thrill-Ma-Geddon’ Polonius bites the dust twice.


Dramatic death scenes equal big money for corporate sponsors, you see.

“There’s a lot of death in the original Hamlet. So there has to now be even more death. And even more ghosts,” explained Zoëy.

She plays the role of Hamlet, and is delighted to get the chance to do Shakespeare — even (or perhaps especially) a version full of humourous tweaks.

“It’s not something you’d normally get to do,” said Zoëy.

This is the one time that it’s okay to act up at David Thompson Secondary School. Don’t miss the students’ take on Hamlet.

Grade 12 student Emma Stankovski noted that while the play may be about selling out in a figurative sense, there’s a chance it may actually literally sell out — as all the tickets will be sold and latecomers won’t be able to get any. Last year’s DTSS senior theatre class play did in fact sell out all its tickets. The message this year is clear: “Get your tickets early,” said Emma.

“Theatre is a great way to express yourself . . . it’s a way to be who you want to be, to be silly if you want to. It’s an escape from the normal pressures of high school,” said Zoëy. “It’s a really supportive class. It’s more of a community than a class.”

Zoëy added she also likes how you can use theatre to — in a humourous way — touch on topics of genuine concern. Such as funding for the arts.

Jules acknowledged that there are many things Columbia Valley residents might do on warm spring evenings in late May and early June, especially if the weather is nice, but implored them to try the ‘Hamlet Thrill-Ma-Geddon’ instead.

“You can go to the beach any time all summer. You can see a play in Invermere only two nights a year. Take advantage of the chance to see a play when you can,” said Zoëy.

“Being part of a theatre production, even as the audience, is a great feeling. Last year I came out of the play giddy. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep,” said Jules.

“There is a magic to watching live theatre, seeing a story come to life on the stage,” added Zoëy.

Theatre class teacher Shelley Little told the Pioneer they had a lot of fun and laughter with this production, and even learned a bit about Shakespeare

“I’m really proud of all the students for how well they’ve worked together. They immediately jumped into making props, sets and costumes. Many of the students came in knowing nothing about Shakespeare, and this was a creative way to learn. We watched?‘Hamlet’?and as we go through this ridiculous version, they are discovering all kinds of connections.”

Little said it’s not essential for the audience to know?‘Hamlet’ to enjoy the ‘Hamlet Thrill-Ma-Geddon’, but added that if you do know ‘Hamlet’ you may get a bit more out of the DTSS play.

“The collaboration and creativity of everyone involved has humbled me again this year. I’m really going to miss the nine talented and creative Grade 12 students who are graduating and leaving this year, but they’ve inspired a high number of younger students to follow their example and the drama program is really growing,” added Little.

She thanked DTSS senior shop class students who built the set; local musician Bryant Olender who helped with the singing and wrote an original musical score for the play; and local substitute teacher Janet Dahl-Freeman who sewed a costume that students were having trouble finding.

The ‘Hamlet Thrill-Ma-Geddon’ performances will be on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1 at the DTSS theatre. The class includes 30 students in Grade 10 through Grade 12 and all are involved in the show in some capacity. Show time is 7 p.m. for each performance. Delicious snacks are available by donation, prepared by the DTSS chef training program. 

Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for students or kids and can be purchased at DTSS, as well as at Stolen Church Gelato and Coffee and the Shenanigans store in downtown Invermere. Children under the age of eight may not enjoy the show — many of the jokes may go over their heads, and there are a lot of dead bodies, which — comedic or not — still may constitute mature subject matter for some younger theatre-goers.