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Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

Doggie Hamlet

Jun 03, 2018
Jun 04, 2018

This event has passed.

A 3D Pastoral Poem


Best availability: Sunday, June 3rd @ 10am  

Standing room only: Sunday, June 3rd @ 6pm 



“a spectacle combining dance, theater and shepherding”
– The Dartmouth

What has five performers, three herding dogs, a flock of sheep, and hay bale seating? Doggie Hamlet! This outdoor performance weaves dance, music, visual, and theatrical elements with aspects of competitive sheep herding trials. A work that “defies categorization” (Center for the Art of Performance), this Philadelphia premiere explores sentiments such as instinct, sentience, attachment, and loss.

The 70-minute production, which unfolds at dusk, lives in both the symbolic and the real world. Doggie Hamlet recalls the bucolic impression of a landscape painting or a 3D pastoral poem. The sheep, the dogs, the human performers, and the earth's surface are at once performing as themselves and as living symbols in this work and asks us relevant questions of our time: What does it mean to follow? What is instinct, and how does that differ from a reaction? 

The presentation of Doggie Hamlet was made possible by the new England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 


"Sheep, dogs, the body, a field . . . 60 minutes of pure wonder." - CULTUREBOT

"Ms. Carlson  . . .  makes art for the people, but she also makes it with and about them." - The New York Times




Where do I go for the performance? Performances will take place in Fairmount Park at Belmont Plateau, off 1800 Belmont Mansion Drive, Philadelphia 19131. The GPS coordinates are Latitude: 39.990246; Longitude: - 75.212658.

• This is a site-specific, outdoor performance so please dress appropriately.

• The parking is paved; however, there are no sidewalks leading to the field. It could be muddy so wear sensible, outdoor shoes.

• What is the seating? Seating is general admission on hay bales placed along the sidelines of the field. We will make sure that they are dry, but you may want to bring a blanket or cushion to sit on.

• How long is the performance? The performance is approximately 1-hour in length. The evening performances are timed to end before sunset. Please let staff know if you need assistance getting to your car.

• What if it is raining? The performance will occur rain or shine, unless there is lightening. Dress appropriately for the conditions. You may want to bring an umbrella if rain is forecast. And thanks for your flexibility if we find we need to hold a show for a few minutes to avoid a downpour.

• For what ages is Doggie Hamlet appropriate? Doggie Hamlet is appropriate for all ages.

• Is Doggie Hamlet wheelchair accessible? The field is wheelchair accessible. But please advise us in advance if you will need assistance or if there is a wheelchair in your party so we can reserve seating for you that can accommodate a wheelchair.

• Can I bring my dog? No dogs are allowed as they will frighten the sheep.

• Will there be restrooms? Yes, portable restrooms will be on site.

• Is this a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet performed with animals? No, Ms. Carlson was inspired by sheepherding trials and David Wroblewski’s novel “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” that is structured like Hamlet and tells of a boy who can hear but not speak. Doggie Hamlet doesn’t retell that story but borrows from it to look at, in part, what it means to be a citizen of the world, nature included.

• May I pet or feed the animals? No. The sheep and dogs are under careful supervision and this experience does not include direct access to petting or feeding the animals.

• Who looks after the animals? The sheep and dogs have full time onsite caretakers and security. In working with live animals for this performance we adhere to the FIVE FREEDOMS OF ANIMAL WELFARE:

1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.

2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and resting area.

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

4. Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of animal’s own kind.

5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Download the FAQ Document

Belmont Plateau
Run Time: 70 Minutes
Intermission: No Intermission



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