Arts & Culture
David Davalos Sends 'Hamlet' Back to School
|David Davalos (via San Antonio Current)|
Wittenberg received its world premiere in Philadelphia in 2008 and has been staged in 19 other cities, including New York, London, Berlin, Vancouver and Melbourne. The playwright—who is pleased that, as he says, “There have been no dog productions yet”—is in San Antonio not to intimidate director Bill Gundry and his cast during two weeks of rehearsal, but to play the part of Doctor Faustus. It is also a homecoming for Davalos, who caught the acting bug at Eisenhower Middle School and Churchill High School. He received a BFA in theater from University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in theater from Ohio University. He’ll be joined onstage by high-school chum Andrew Thornton, playing Martin Luther, in the Playhouse’s production.
Born in Alabama, where his father, Rudy, was assistant coach of the Auburn University basketball team, Davalos moved to Texas when Rudy was hired to be assistant coach of an ABA team that had just moved from Dallas—the San Antonio Spurs. In a career that earned him a place in the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, Rudy took over as UTSA’s first athletic director in 1976. Paternal legacy might have influenced a scene in Wittenberg in which Hamlet and Laertes face off in tennis.
Davalos had plenty of practice plundering literature and history for theatrical concoctions before crafting Wittenberg. He conflated Hamlet and Death of a Salesman for a piece titled New Yorick, New Yorick and had Leonardo da Vinci conversing with Lucrezia Borgia and Niccoló Machiavelli in Daedalus. Darkfall was written as a modern sequel to Paradise Lost. Over lunch at Green, he recalled playing Rosencrantz in a production of Hamlet and, during the long intervals offstage, pondering Shakespeare’s play in new ways. A couple of questions tantalized him: “What was Hamlet doing in school before Hamlet?” and “How did Hamlet get to the scene in which he spies on Claudius praying?” Davalos became convinced by Stephen Greenblatt’s contention, in his 2001 book Hamlet in Purgatory, that: “Hamlet is a Protestant play haunted by a Catholic ghost.”
Read more at the San Antonio Current on-line. . . .