Bingham’s First Ever Movie: “Hamlet”


Claudius (potrayed by Cale Montoya) in Scene 10. Filmed by Jason Purdie.

The phrase, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” can be applied to Director Jason Purdie’s vision: “When life gives you a pandemic, make a movie!”


Jason Purdie is one of the two new theatre directors at Bingham High School, along with Brittany Andersen. Both teachers have stepped up to the plate with innovative ideas and a love for the department they represent. While Ms. Andersen will be directing the upcoming Spring Musical, “Mamma Mia,” Mr. Purdie has another ambitious project in the works.


For the first time in Bingham history, a director has taken the reins in creating a Bingham Theatre Department film in place of an in-person play. The production he chose was none other than Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”


Inspired by a former colleague and their plan to work with the virus’s restrictions, Mr. Purdie was determined to create much more than a play. 


“I wanted to do something unique this year with all of the challenges and restrictions. Something that would allow students the opportunity to express themselves in a new way—something that would hopefully give them a boost of excitement after months of frustration and disappointment,” explained Purdie.


While some may know of the Shakespearean classic, they will certainly come to know it in a different light with this modern take on “Hamlet!” With a fresh new spin on the production, Purdie gave exclusive information on the play. 


The idea is that Hamlet is a film student that is studying documentary filmmaking. When he finds out that his father was murdered, he decides to use his amateur documentary skills to bring the murder to light. Ophelia is also more prominent in this film and has a different role than what we usually see. I don’t want to give away too much!”


“Hamlet” is a tragedy that traditionally follows the Prince of Denmark as he processes the death of his father. Things take a turn for the worst when his father’s ghost, the King, comes to him in the night. The ghost reveals he was murdered by his own brother who is now ruling in his place. This spirals Hamlet into brilliant madness as he goes on a quest to avenge his father’s death.


A new realm of acting was introduced to the cast of “Hamlet” as they learned the differences between putting together live theatre and acting in a film. Purdie elaborated on the matter.


Film and theatre are definitely different in some significant ways.  [In live theatre] you get the immediate reactions and constant energy of that live audience each time you perform. In film, the actors don’t get that. Film actors get very, very little rehearsal time with the director and other actors, and then ultimately perform that scene for a camera.”


Jayven Thompson, who plays the character Hamlet himself in the production, shared a similar view when it comes to screen acting. 


“Yeah, honestly with the audience it makes it easier to act. [But with film acting,] it takes more thinking. It works because the camera is up close and you act less, yet you give the same energy.”


Rehearsals and filmings for this production of “Hamlet” began in the middle of September and are still going strong! Purdie had originally planned for the production to wrap-up before Christmas Break, but with the pandemic looming overhead, things had to be altered.  While others would view this as a loss, Purdie remains resilient in his outlook.


If not for Covid, we wouldn’t be having this unique film experience, so that’s one positive about the effect of Covid on our filmmaking experience. To be honest, we’ve been extremely fortunate to get between 1/3-1/2 of the film shot and it has been a blast so far. . . . We will continue to do our best and roll with the punches.


With all of the actors having to stay on their toes, the excitement for the outcome is electric. One might wonder when the public will be able to watch this exciting new take on “Hamlet.”


Filming will resume after the [Thanksgiving] break, but then we are into the musical—and we don’t want to interfere with that. We will get this movie finished but it may be the end of the year before everyone gets to see it.”


Though the viewing date might be a ways away, the suspense is real! The eagerness of the audience will be happily met by a red-carpet premiere where the first screening of the movie will be shown in the auditorium. We can confirm that there will be more than one screening to ensure the audience has the socially-distanced experience encouraged.


The cast and crew will be working hard on the film throughout the course of the school year, and will maintain their eagerness until the red carpet is unfurled! 


When asked what final message he wanted the reader to know, Mr. Purdie positively responded with the following:


“Most importantly, get excited about this film! This is a new and unique experience for our students and we can’t wait to share it with you!”