Help 'The Hamlet Voyage' Set Sail

by Ben Prusiner in Bristol, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 1st June 2021 we successfully raised £5,011 with 81 supporters in 35 days

The Hamlet Voyage is a new play about the first recorded performance of Hamlet, in 1607 off the coast of Sierra Leone.

by Ben Prusiner in Bristol, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Thank you for helping us reach our initial target for the summer workshop! Additional funds allow us to make down payments on artist payments for the final script development workshop in the winter.

The Hamlet Voyage is a new play about the first recorded performance of Hamlet, which was acted by sailors in 1607 off the coast of Sierra Leone for local West African dignitaries, on the first English voyage to reach India.

The play will examine this historic cross-cultural encounter that took place before England became deeply involved in the Atlantic slave trade, before the age of British imperialism, and before Shakespeare became a global name. Together with the audience, we will imagine how history might have turned out differently and where we go from here.

We will perform on a replica sailing ship, The Matthew, in Bristol Harbour in July 2022, the 415th anniversary of the original Hamlet performance. From there, we are planning to transfer to the replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship The Golden Hinde in London, as well as select indoor venues.

We have assembled an international and multicultural team:

-Playwright Rex Obano, who has written extensively on the hidden histories of early-modern England and Black British historical drama
-Puppetry Director Anurupa Roy, whose work has explored traditional Indian shadow puppetry and Mughal history in performances in Delhi and across the world
-Director Ben Prusiner, who founded Re:Verse Theatre 10 years ago to produce plays of heightened language with a positive social impact
-Professor Joseph Bangura, who is an expert on, and member of, the Temne ethnic group, who were among the original invited audience for Hamlet in 1607
-Doctor Laurence Publicover, who teaches Shakespeare and Oceanic studies at Bristol University
-Producer Pamela Schermann, who has produced classical and modern theatre productions across London and Europe.

We have already secured an initial grant from the Brigstow institute and have other grant applications ongoing. Your donations will build on these funds to make it possible for us to pay our creative team to write the initial draft of the play, conduct research into the historical background across three continents, and conduct a week-long exploratory workshop this summer. 

This in turn will lay the foundation for a final script workshop later this year in which we will also work with diverse community members in Bristol to explore traditional English, West African and South Asian music and dance, with the aim of creating a community curtain-raiser performance to accompany our play. In addition, we would like to do workshops with students in schools across Bristol to explore these historical threads. Finally, the full production will be in the summer of 2022 in Bristol and London.

Please help us bring this unique and little-known story to life! Learn more by watching the video above, or visiting


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more


Special thanks on the website

£50 or more


Help us choose who's on the voyage. Vote on a list of character names from the original ship's registry to round out the cast for the workshop.

£100 or more

3 of 10 claimed


Exclusive excerpt from a draft of the script, signed by a member of the creative team.

£250 or more

1 of 10 claimed


All of the above, plus a photo from the workshop signed by the cast and creative team.

£500 or more

1 of 10 claimed


Invitation to the final read-through of The Hamlet Voyage during our summer workshop, either in person or over Zoom.

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