Shakespeare in the Park, the annual free performances presented by the Public Theater at the Delacorte in Central Park, celebrates its 61st summer this year with a new production of Hamlet. Paula Scher and team have designed the campaign––their 29th!––for the contemporary present-day take on the Bard’s masterpiece, which is directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon and stars Tony Award nominee Ato Blankson-Wood in the title role.
Each year, the Shakespeare graphics update the spirit and use of Knockout, the font of the Public identity, Variations have included typography that is slashed, slanted, skewed, stretched and stenciled. This year the campaign centers on a skull (“Alas, poor Yorick..”) with its eyes crossed out, and the type is layered with textured cross-hatching and covered in a mess of hand-drawn scrawls, scribbles and doodles.
The Pentagram team developed a comprehensive kit of these seemingly improvised graphic elements so the campaign can be adapted and extended for various applications including posters and print advertising, social media, and animations for digital kiosks, as well as theater signage and swag.
When the campaign was submitted to the MTA for review, the agency rejected the posters because they said they encouraged graffiti. So the Pentagram team created an alternate “cleaner” version for the subway that replaces the hand-drawn “X” over Yorick’s eye with a pair of Band-Aids.
Hamlet will be presented for an extended run of nine weeks, from June 8 to August 6. (Only one play is being produced this summer, as opposed to the usual two, to make way for a major renovation of the Delacorte when the run is over.)