Academy Alumnus Returns to Play Hamlet in Shakespeare Festival

Torsten Johnson, a 2008 Academy graduate, will return to Interlochen this summer to perform as Hamlet in the 2013 Interlochen Shakespeare Festival. Written at the height of Shakespeare's career, “Hamlet” is renowned for its exquisite poetry, spellbinding plot and universal themes of morality and mortality.

With his return to Interlochen, Johnson will have a chance to work side-by-side with his former teachers, including Bill Church, the artistic director of Festival and the theatre program at Interlochen. “Torsten was a student in the first class I taught at Interlochen when I joined the faculty in the fall of 2005. It is remarkable to see a student go from ‘Intro to Acting’ to playing Hamlet!”

After graduating from the Academy in 2008, Johnson joined the production of “Twelfth Night” for the inaugural year of the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival before going on to study at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater program. Since graduating with his bachelor’s degree a year ago, Johnson has maintained a busy schedule performing in several productions with the American Players Theater in Wisconsin and most recently performed in a production of “Much Ado About Nothing” with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

“I'm immensely honored to return to Interlochen,” said Johnson of his return to campus. “I take a lot of pride in coming from Interlochen, and I remember loving it when Interlochen alumni would come back as guest artists when I was a student. I learned a lot and took a lot of inspiration from them. I hope to keep that cycle alive.”

“One of the joys of the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival for me personally is having the opportunity to work in a professional setting with my former students,” said Church. “For some it is their first job, and for others it is a chance to return to campus after finishing college. It is almost like the learning cycle never ends. Faculty members take great joy and pride in appearing alongside their former students.”

The summer of 2013 will be the second year for the Festival in its new home, the open-air Upton-Morley Pavilion. Building on the success of last year's “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” Church and the Festival organizers are excited to present the Festival’s first Shakespearean tragedy in this new space.

“Staging what is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest texts in Western literature is always a bold and somewhat daunting choice,” noted Church. “Our company members and designers are prepared for this challenge, however, and we have an exciting production planned that will bring this masterpiece to our audiences in a clear and compelling fashion.”

As Johnson embarks on his theatre career, playing the role of Hamlet is a daunting but exciting challenge. “Hamlet, the character and the play, has spoken to the consciousness of people all over the world and ever since it was written,” said Johsnson. “Like so many others, I have identified with him ever since I realized he entertains the same universe-cracking questions that keep me up at night. So it's a dream to get a chance to embody him on stage.”

The Interlochen Shakespeare Festival draws on the unique resources of the Interlochen Center for the Arts to present bold and innovative interpretations of the classics. Founded in 2008 and led by artistic director William Church, a core ensemble of Interlochen faculty, staff and alumni commits itself to engaging northwest Michigan audiences through professional theatre that celebrates the Shakespearean imagination.

Performances will be held June 27-29 and July 3, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. in the Upton-Morley Pavilion. Tickets can be obtained by visiting tickets.interlochen.org or by calling the Interlochen Box Office at 800.681.5920.

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