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NYC
Fat Ham
Fat Ham
Play

Fat Ham

New York, NY
2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama Winner
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About Fat Ham

Winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prizer in Drama New York Premiere Play
Co-Production with National Black Theatre
By James Ijames
Directed by Saheem Ali

Critically-acclaimed playwright James Ijames reinvents Shakespeare’s masterpiece with his new drama, FAT HAM.

Juicy is a queer, Southern college kid, already grappling with some serious questions of identity, when the ghost of his father shows up in their backyard, demanding that Juicy avenge his murder.

It feels like a familiar story to Juicy, well-versed in Hamlet’s woes. What’s different is Juicy himself, a sensitive and self-aware young Black man trying to break the cycles of trauma and violence in service of his own liberation.

From an uproarious family barbecue emerges a compelling examination of love and loss, pain and joy. FAT HAM is a delectable comic tragedy directed by The Public’s Associate Artistic Director Saheem Ali.

Tell Me More

Fire up the grill and feast on some great theatre at Fat Ham, a queer, food-filled, modern take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet making its New York debut at The Public Theater. Get Fat Ham tickets on TodayTix now.

As the title may suggest, Fat Ham is a play inspired by Hamlet, but this version is set at an outdoor cookout in the South where Juicy, a college student, is supposed to be celebrating his mother Tedra’s second marriage. But since his mom is marrying his uncle, who killed Juicy’s father to secure Tedra, Juicy’s college savings, and the family business, Juicy’s not interested in celebrating. In fact, the ghost of Pap (Juicy’s father) has just visited him and asked for revenge, and that’s what Juicy’s planning to get.

Until this point, Juicy’s story resembles Hamlet’s. But the protagonists differ in their approach to revenge. Hamlet believes that committing his uncle’s murder is a nobler and better act than just thinking about it, but Juicy — a queer, Black man fighting for his own liberation — doubts whether he must avenge violence with violence like Hamlet did, and wonders what another way might look like. Fat Ham is a Hamlet adaptation, but it’s also a challenge to the cycle of violence within Shakespeare's play and within society.

Fat Ham is directed by Saheem Ali (represented off Broadway in 2021 with the Public’s Merry Wives and MCC Theater’s Nollywood Dreams) and written by James Ijames, who has debuted work in Philadelphia and New York. His plays include Kill Move Paradise, whose 2017 Off-Broadway production was a New York Times Critics’ Pick; Moon Man Walk; and The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, among others. Fat Ham is his newest play, which made its digital world premiere with Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater after the in-person production was canceled amid the pandemic. Fat Ham off Broadway marks the show’s New York debut.

Gather the family and experience joy and suspense in equal measure at this delicious comedy/drama. Get tickets to Fat Ham in New York on TodayTix.

What to Watch For

  • The principal characters in Fat Ham directly correlate with Hamlet characters. Juicy, of course, is Hamlet, and his parents Pap and Tedra represent Hamlet’s parents, leaving Juicy’s uncle as the Claudius figure. Some of the supporting characters even have similar names to their Shakespearean counterparts: Opal and Larry, for example, stand in for Ophelia and Laertes, and Tio represents Horatio.
  • The Public Theater stage will be transformed into an outdoor cookout for Fat Ham. When Wilma Theater’s in-person production was canceled, director Morgan Green presented it virtually instead, and the show was actually filmed outdoors to make the backyard barbecue setting as realistic as possible.
  • Fat Ham shares similarities with another production this spring: the Broadway premiere of Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop. Both feature queer, fat, Black protagonists who are trying to break out of a cycle: Juicy of violence, and Usher (A Strange Loop’s protagonist) of his own insecurities.
  • Prophecies often show up in Shakespeare plays, and the same goes, inadvertently, for Ijames’s. The play isn’t set during the pandemic, but Juicy happens to attend his college classes online. The ghost of his father gripes, “You going to school on a laptop!” and calls his son’s education a scam. Little did he know that would soon become the norm…
Run time

90 Mins (No intermission)

Start date

May 12th, 2022

End date

July 31st, 2022

Genre

Play

Venue

Public Theater

Tickets

Tickets are not currently available. Set an alert and we'll tell you when more tickets go on sale.

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