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This 'Hamlet' may leave audiences ice-cold

January 15, 2003|From Reuters

STOCKHOLM — "The air bites shrewdly, it is very cold."

In the original setting in Elsinore castle in Denmark, Shakespeare's Hamlet would have good reason to complain about the winter weather.

But with temperatures dropping toward minus 40, Hamlet is likely to freeze when the tragedy opens in the new Ice Globe Theater in Jukkasjarvi, far above the Arctic circle in Sweden.

That is about 725 miles north of Stockholm and almost 1,250 miles north of Elsinore.

The Ice Globe -- a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London -- is built of some 15,000 tons of snow and ice from the nearby Torne River. It stands beside Jukkasjarvi's Ice Hotel.

Thirty feet high, the theater seats 1,000 spectators and the season runs from Jan. 23 to early April. By midsummer the sun will have melted the ice.

In mid-November the theater and the Ice Hotel will be rebuilt for the next season.

This year, the play will be performed for the first time in Sami, a Finnish-Hungarian language spoken by about 85,000 indigenous people in northern Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia.

The drama, featuring a Sami cast with Nils Henrik Buljo in the leading role, will be shorter than the original. "We have been forced to cut the play to one hour and 15 minutes. At minus 38 it is impossible to stand outside for four hours," said Rolf Degerlund, who calls himself the world's only ice theater manager.

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