For me, Hamlet has always been about a son in grief. My father died when I was twenty-one, and I have always entered the story from that place. As a son, and now a father, I know how the world can be rocked by loss.

Having worked primarily as a theatre director, I was particularly excited by this opportunity to use the language of film to tell the story of a son trapped by grief, in a house where he is not quite a man, but no longer a boy. With Kitchen Hamlet, I wanted to respect the story of that son, to focus on his struggle. So many Shakespeare films seem to find their aesthetic by asking, “How many extras, wearing how many yards of velvet?” I believed the heart of the story lay in stripping away those layers, and exposing the life beneath them. I wanted to find tragedy in a world with fencing in the back yard.

When I was growing up, my mother took me and my sister to many Shakespeare plays. The first I remember seeing was Richard III. Before we went, my mother explained the story, focusing, I suppose, on what she thought would matter to us most. She told us the play was about “a really bad man who killed little boys.” All I remember now about the production is that Richmond, the conquering hero who defeats Richard at the play’s end, had an enormous head of bright red hair. It never occurred to us that these plays were difficult to understand; they were simply a part of our life together.

Years later, when I was studying directing at Yale, I began directing my own Shakespeare productions. I felt at home in these worlds, at home with Shakespeare’s language and his ways of thinking and seeing. Immediately after Yale, I got married and went to New York. Now I was ready to do what I could not do seven years earlier, when my father died. I directed my first production of Hamlet, seeing in it the story of a son brought to a stop by the loss of his father. For me the question was not whether Hamlet was crazy; it was how he could continue in the face of such grief. I mourned the loss of my father.

Many years ago, in a small house with a large kitchen, I imagined a film of Hamlet that would treat him as a real person, that would open up his journey, that would see him as a son in a house, in a family, in mourning. Kitchen Hamlet is that film.

- Daniel Elihu Kramer