Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project
Learn more about Voltaire!The Sanders Portrait

Hamlet-le-Malécite

Yves Sioui Durand
Yves Sioui Durand

Yves Sioui Durand

Yves Sioui Durand originally titled this play L'Ours tortue (The Bear-tortoise) but changed the title to Hamlet-le-Malécite (Hamlet–The Maliseet) shortly before its first production in Winter 2004. The play "nous propose une nouvelle production qui soulève la perte de l'identité et la corruption culturelle au sein des communautés autochtones" [proposes a new production that raises the issue of the loss of identity and the cultural corruption at the heart of First Nations communities]. The play's new title explicitly reflects on the symbolic conversion of Shakespeare's Hamlet into a Maliseet (Malecite, Malécite, Malecites, Malisit):

"The Maliseet tribe belonged to the loose confederation of eastern American Indians known as the Wabanaki Alliance, together with the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Mi'kmaq, and Abenaki Indians. The Maliseet live primarily in Canada, especially New Brunswick, with one band across the border in nearby Maine (the US granted official recognition to the Maine tribe in 1980). Older literature sometimes refers to them as "St. John's Indians," though there's no evidence they ever used that term themselves. The Maliseet's own name for themselves is Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet is a Mi'kmaq word for someone who can't talk very well,) but today they are usually known as Maliseets or Malecites" (for further information from the same source, click here).

" Malécites
"D'après un terme micmac signifiant 'Mauvais causeur' pouvant être inteprété de plusieurs façons: soit parlant une langue incorrecte (par rapport aux Micmacs), soit 'Menteurs.'"

  • Langue: algonquian
  • Membres de la confédération wabanaki, avec les Micmacs, les Abenakis et les Pemobscots.
  • Semi-nomades, les Malécites vivaient de chasse et de pêche mais cultivaient aussi le maïs. Ils négociaient leurs fourrures avec les Français.
  • Occupaient la vallée de la rivière Saint-Jean au sud du Nouveau-Brunswick, avant de s'exiler au Québec.
  • 800 en 1600, 712 au Québec en 1995"
    (du Dictionnaire des Indiens d'Amérique du Nord. Casterman, 2005: 134).

There is no little irony in that the word Maliseet in Mi'kmaq refers to someone who has trouble expressing himself and that Hamlet in this First Nations context is associated with this symbolic resonance. What does it mean to adapt perhaps the most famous literary personnage in English theatre to an aboriginal theatrical context performed in French in Canada?

Link to Database

Link to article about Hamlet-le Malécite
Link to Hamlet-le-Malécite production program
Link to a review of Hamlet-le-Malécite
Link to a Radio Canada review of Hamlet-le-Malécite
Link to a Radio Canada audio interview with Yves Sioui Durand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online Anthology | Spotlight | Database | Interviews | Bibliography | Essays | Multimedia | Links | About CASP | Shakespeare News | Interactive Folio | Learning Commons