ETC invites its audience to venture to the turbulent courts of the Kings of Denmark and Britain with scenes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear, and explore the characters that we either love to love, or love to hate.

In Denmark, the dirt is still soft around King Hamlet’s grave, but Queen Gertrude is quite comfortable in the embrace of the new king, her former brother-in-law and now husband, Claudius, while her son Prince Hamlet seethes for revenge.

In Britain, King Lear decides to take an early retirement from the responsibilities of crown and kingdom, handing the care of his realm on to his daughters, but maintaining all the rights and privileges of the title. Casting off the most beloved of this three daughters, he is suddenly faced with two offspring who are less than doting on dear old dad.

Watch scenes from these two famous plays, and you decide:

  • Hamlet: reluctant avenger of his father’s murder, or jealous mama’s boy?
  • Queen Gertrude: vulnerable, grieving widow, or bloody adulteress?
  • King Claudius: savior of his brother’s struggling realm, or fratricidal usurper?
  • King Lear: victim of his wretched progeny, or tyrant?
  • Goneril: ungrateful, murderous brat, or misunderstood, neglected daughter trying to find a life?

Cast & Staff

Cast & Staff

The Cast

(in order of their appearance)


King Claudius Chris Kanaga
Hamlet Kyle Norman
Queen Gertrude Sr. Danielle Dwyer
Polonius Brad Lussier
Player King Luke Norman
Player Queen Vicky Kanaga
Players Sr. Phoenix Catlin, Heather Catlin, Jeremy Haig, Sarah Hale
Ophelia Rachel McKendree
Horatio Kate Shannon
Laertes Peter Haig
Messenger Sarah Hale
Osric Luke Norman
Ghost Chorus

King Lear

King Lear Brad Lussier
Goneril Ellen Ortolani
Cordelia Heather Catlin
Kent Dave Haig
Regan Sr. Phoenix Catlin
Fool Kate Shannon
Oswald Lindsey Kanaga
Cornwall Luke Norman
Edgar Rachel McKendree
Nurse Vicky Kanaga
Edmund Jeremy Haig
Albany Peter Haig


Heather Catlin
Sr. Phoenix Catlin
Jeremy Haig
Peter Haig
Lindsey Kanaga
Rachel McKendree
Luke Norman
Ellen Ortolani
Kate Shannon
Brad Lussier
Sr. Danielle Dwyer


Sr. Danielle Dwyer
Technical Director
Chris Kanaga

To see the entire program or read the program notes click here

News & Reviews

News & Reviews

“Throughout these scenes, the cast demonstrates a grasp of the fine and fragile line that separates the venal act of one more praiseworthy…” —Barnstable Patriot

“Beautifully staged and, even better, magnificently acted…” —Cape Cod Times

Elements actors put audience in the jury box

Barnstable Patriot

The play’s the thing all right, but Elements Theatre Company wants the audience to do more than just take in the dialog, scenery and costumes.

Elements is performing its latest theatrical enterprise, Shakespeare’s Own: Vicious or Virtuous? …You Decide, and the cast and crew have mounted another fine production at Paraclete House on Rock Harbor in Orleans.


Shakespeare: Much to admire, but something’s missing

By David Allen, Cape Cod Times

There certainly have been a lot of things done to, and with, the works of William Shakespeare through the years.


From the Director

From the Director

Dear Friends,

Thank you for being a part of this event which marks our first venture into the world of interactive theatre! This idea has grown on us considerably since we first began to contemplate staging a show featuring five of Shakespeare’s characters. Characters whose stories provide room for considerable thought and reflection on this question: which character’s actions can be seen in the light of both virtue and vice and by which are they ruled?

The idea of a life being ruled by virtue or vice is not a new one. For the medieval mind, there were seven virtues to counter the seven deadly sins. Obviously, this would have been a very live concept in Shakespeare’s day and, as we can see in his plays, a concept that provides a point of great turmoil for some of his characters. We watch as these characters learn about themselves in the mirror of their actions, where they are both confronted and empowered. For some, the image of self that they recognize in the mirror moves them; for others, the recognition moves them not. We have the opportunity to watch what Hamlet says to the players, “…hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature.”

These two plays, Hamlet and King Lear are rich in drama and storytelling, and populated with dynamic, volatile, and vulnerable characters. In both plays we see the break up of a kingdom and a family. We see how the body politic affects the lives and homes of her citizens. We can hear Shakespeare ask, “If the royals are not well, and sane, who can be safe? Who will step into the breach and speak for the good of a nation, for the virtue that rules a kingdom against the vices that destroy men when the monarch is fallen or in decay?” Shakespeare gives us great literature through which we can turn over these questions in our minds today.

So, we wish you very good luck tonight as you watch the flounderings of kings, the turmoil of a mother, and wife, and role reversals in parent-child relationships. In the midst of these conflicts, you will also find humor, madness, sadness and sacrifice. Lastly, to aid in your decision making process we have chosen a grey scale both for the set and the costumes. Our intention is that without embellishment or distraction the character’s actions and motivations alone are the grounds for your decisions on the vicious or the virtuous.

Thank you for joining us.

See and Hear