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Hamlet – September 4-26 2021

Directed by KJ Gilmer
An all-female production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece
Weekends, September 4-26
for PSiP’s 17th Season
Saturday and Sunday afternoons at Frick Park, North Park Boat House, and Highland Park
Special Friday night events in Schenley Plaza, Oakland
Production design by Lisa Leibering

The play’s the thing! Shakespeare’s compelling classic with a modern twist, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park’s HAMLET features an all-female cast. Directed by KJ Gilmer, the story of a grieving prince and a crumbling kingdom.

17th Season Production
Jennifer Tober, founder & artistic director

11 performances in city parks in September 2021
Admission is free with donation online requested. Only checks and cash can be accepted at parks.
Blankets, chairs, picnics and dogs welcome.
Audience members are asked to social distance by seating themselves at 6 feet apart from other groups, please. Masks are at the discretion of audience members, but not required in our outdoor setting.

Hamlet program

Weather: Notifications and weather updates will appear on this web site and in social media on performance days.

Check out our program! Web version or Print version available.

Kids’ Guide: Educational PDF guide to the play (for all ages!) (14 MB PDF)

Please click here to take the survey


Melissa FranklinHamlet/Ophelia
Angela HsuOphelia/Hamlet
Irene Alby Gertrude
Zanny Laird*Claudius / King Hamlet’s Ghost
Jenny HoppesHoratio / Player Queen
Harper YorkLaertes / Player King
Joanna GettingPolonius / Gravedigger / Barnardo
Rachelmae PulliamGuildenstern / Gravedigger / Osric
Ella MizeraRosencrantz / Marcellus

Choreography by Tomé Cousin and Tonya Lynn
Choreography Assistants: Shana Simmons, Gretchen Breslawski
Stage Management by Jason Via and Quinn Murphy
Photos by Catherine Aceto

The Tragedy of Hamlet

Saturday, Sept 4 (1:50 PM pre-show) and Sunday, Sept. 5thFrick Park (click for directions), 2 PM
Friday, September 10thSchenley Plaza, 6 PM
Saturday Sept. 11th and Sunday, Sept. 12th (1:50 PM pre-show)Highland Park, 2 PM
Saturday, September 11th (two-show day)Schenley Plaza, 6 PM
Friday, September 17thSchenley Plaza, 6 PM
Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18th-19th (1:45 PM pre-shows)North Park Boathouse, 2 PM
Saturday and Sunday, September 25th-26thFrick Park, 2 PM

As always, admission is free and donations requested to keep Shakespeare’s plays in our beautiful Pittsburgh parks. 

Pre-shows – Arrive early with your picnic to enjoy these special pre-show events.

Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 12, 1:50 PM
Storyteller Alan Irvine returns with Hamlet: The Quick Version to warm up audiences as “the play’s the thing”. 

Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19, 1:45 PM
Charles David “Stoney” Richards as Globe Theatre player Jon Sincler from his solo show Friended by Shakespeare, a personal take on working with Will. Has an all-female production always been in the cards? 

Learn more about HAMLET in these media previews:

WQED-FM Voice of the Arts podcast with Jennifer Tober and Anna Singer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: An All-Female Hamlet in the Parks
Pitt News: Shakespeare in the Parks presents all-female Hamlet Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks all-female ‘Hamlet’ takes on stereotypes
Pittsburgh in the Round: Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks joins the ranks of theatres presenting all-female Shakespeare to the masses.

Director’s note by KJ Gilmer

Written between 1599 and 1601, Hamlet is the most produced, loved, and complicated of Shakespeare’s plays, and is on the bucket lists of many actors and directors. I am fortunate to have this opportunity to take this journey and direct this play. My personal journey with William Shakespeare began in Boston in 1993 when I designed costumes for several Shakespeare productions presented by Lesley University’s Oxford Street Players (OSP), founded by Annie Pluto and Lisa “Riz” Risley. Ms. Risley serves as dramaturg for this production.

I was embraced by OSP and slowly became a fan of the Bard. I began to get excited about the text, the characters and the history that Shakespeare brings to life. Fast forward to January 2020, I was approached by Jennifer Tober to direct Hamlet, an all-female version. This was not unheard-of when Sarah Bernhardt leads a number of woman who have played the Danish Prince: Frances de la Tour, Maxine Peake, Michelle Terry, Ruth Negga and Cush Jumbo (Negga and Jumbo being the only women of color in the preceding list).

What does it mean for a woman of color to play “Hamlet”? It means playing a role that was largely off-limits to us regardless of talent. We are in a special place in theatre right now. Theatre is coming back but coming back different. The work that is being produced is embracing difference, change, and is becoming more inclusive.

This production of Hamlet is different. I choose to cast two women of color as Hamlet to give the actresses an opportunity to say these beautiful words and perform a role that, 20 years ago, may have not been able an option outside of an educational situation. The women in this production are strong, bold, resilient, and most of all dedicated, talented performers who worked tirelessly to bring this production to life.

We had to edit the script for time, clarity and plot movement. Don’t worry, your favorites are there. I purposely let the performers present their characters to allow the audience to experience the richness of the text, the power of voice, and transcendent qualities of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

I thank Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks for being brave and bold, joining the ranks of theatres who are presenting all-female Shakespeare, especially Hamlet, to the masses. Enjoy the show!

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks is dedicated to bringing FREE Shakespeare plays to Pittsburgh audiences in our beautiful city parks since 2005. Our outdoor company has performed 15 plays in parks and public spaces to a total of over 15,000 audience members. PSIP believes that access to excellent, free theater is a right that all citizens should have. Thank you for supporting our mission of free theatre for all!

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Bringing free Shakespeare to the Steel City since 2005.

Bring a blanket, a loved one, and a thermos.

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks’ productions are supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Production Sponsors

The Chocolate Moose 

Dan Frankel, Pennsylvania State Representative

Additional support from:

  • The Fine Foundation
  • PNC Charitable Trust
  • PA Partners (Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council)
  • Arts Equity Reimagined/Covid-19 Arts Working Group

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks celebrates 17 seasons of bringing FREE Shakespeare plays to the Steel City!


*Member, Actors’ Equity Association