A unique concept, Bat-Hamlet presents a mash-up of Hamlet and Batman. In our latest Quick Chat feature, Jordan Pulliam discusses the play, the process of writing it and the idea behind it.
This is your first play that has been produced. What has the process been like?
I’m always nervous showing the script to a new and larger audience. Worrying about if they’ll get it, and if they’ll like it. First I showed it off to a small group of my friends, and they liked it. Then I joined Working Title Playwrights, and I was worried what a group of serious theatre people would think of it. And they LOVED it! The process of developing the script and working with playwrights and actors and directors has been amazing. Like some of the best things in life, it’s been scary but exciting.
What inspired you to write the play?
I first got the idea in 2004, hanging out one day with my college girlfriend. She was flipping through a magazine and I was just sitting next to her. On her table I saw a little Batman toy like you get in kid’s fast food meal. I began dancing him across my leg. At the time, I’d been studying Hamlet in several different English and Literature classes. Suddenly, something clicked in my head. I turned to my girlfriend and said, “You know, someone should write a version of Hamlet with all Batman characters.” She just rolled her eyes and went back to reading her magazine, and I went back to playing with the toy. Then I turned to her and said, “I’m serious.”
Three years later I was living down in Savannah and working at a friend’s bar. Around Christmas I got dumped by a girl I was seeing, and I cheered myself up by buying a laptop. In a few weeks I had cranked out a fair number of short stories and goofy poems that had been rattling around my head. Then, I saw my old copy of Hamlet, remembered the idea, and got to work.
Was it a long writing process?
Bat-Hamlet is about the easiest thing I’ve ever written. The play is such a clear, pure crystallization of my sense of humor that it all flowed out naturally. I was writing five or ten pages a night. It all just came out fast and frantic and messy. I finished the first draft in a little over a week. The first rewrite was pretty extensive, reordering the scenes, even adding an entire character I had forgotten to introduce. Since then, I’d estimate I’ve reread and rewritten the play close to fifty times. Maybe more. Adding a bit here, cutting a bit here, and polish it all until it was perfect.
My friends and I had a reading of an early draft. About a year and a half ago, Working Title Playwrights hosted a reading at the Academy Theatre, where it was very well received. And soon it will be performed on stage for the first time. I’m more excited than anyone to see it.
What three words would you use to describe the play?
Hilarious. Smart. Non-infringing.
Are there any similarities to Hamlet outside of names?
The story follows the basic narrative of Hamlet. A mournful prince seeks to learn the truth of the king’s death and avenge him by adopting an antic disposition. Hamlet is chock-full of famous quotes, and almost all of them make an appearance in some form or other. So people well versed in Hamlet might end up getting a few extra jokes. Same with people familiar with superheroes. But there are plenty of non-affiliated jokes for everyone.
What is the play about?
Bat-Hamlet is about murder, madness, mayhem, and good, clean fun.
What is your favorite moment in the play?
Choosing just one favorite moment is very hard. I have several favorite moments in each scene. But the single moment I’m most excited about seeing onstage is the first appearance of Bat-Hamlet in costume. It’s one of the most memorable images in the play.
Why should people come see the play?
I’m very confident in saying that Bat-Hamlet is the funniest thing out there this Summer. Don’t miss it. Heck! I’m going at least three times, and I already know how it ends. Of course, anyone who’s read Hamlet knows how it all ends. Or do they?
Bat-Hamlet runs in repertory with Evelyn in Purgatory and The Local at the Essential Theatre Festival. The festival runs through August 5 at Actor’s Express. For tickets and more information, visit the theater’s website.