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Naked, All-Male Production of 'Hamlet' Coming to Prospect Park in August

 Torn Out Theater is producing an all-male nude version of
Torn Out Theater is producing an all-male nude version of "Hamlet" in Prospect Park this summer.
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Courtesy of Torn Out Theater

PROSPECT PARK — To be, or not to be … clothed.

A new stripped-down production of "Hamlet" is coming to Prospect Park this summer, featuring an all-male cast who ditch their costumes during the Shakespeare play.

The free show is put on by Torn Out Theater, the same group that produced a nude, all-female staging of "The Tempest" in the park last year. Director Pitr Strait said he got the idea for this year’s production in part because of some “really tragic” responses to "The Tempest," mostly from men, who said “well, thank God they did it with women, no one wants to see a naked man,” he said.

“I began to think there was a lot of pain and repression out there among men, especially about men’s bodies,” he told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday.

So, this year, the male naked form will be on display, Strait said, with men playing each part. Costumes designed by Aaron Crosby will be used in the beginning of the show, but will be slowly stripped away as the play goes on — a device actor Brendan Walsh, who plays Gertrude, says is quite impactful.

“Hamlet is a play about who is being truthful and who is not, and deceit and false faces, and when you are completely revealed, being naked, you’re not hiding a whole lot,” he said.

The play will be staged at the Music Pagoda inside the park on Aug. 10 through 13. But don’t go looking for a sneak peek at rehearsals since Strait said the cast practices off-site since New York State law prohibits nudity except as part of “a sanctioned, official artistic performance.”

“We can’t rehearse naked in the park … but between permitted hours, we can be naked,” he said.

Hamlet takes places at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 10, 11 and 12 and at 2 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the Music Pagoda, near the park's Boathouse off the East Drive. The performance is free and open to the public. For more information, visit TornOutTheater.org.