Gravedigger's Tale

An Interactive Retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet

The story of Hamlet is told by the Gravedigger using Shakespeare's moving words and help from the audience.
In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, the Gravedigger appears briefly in Act V to perform a comic exchange with a fellow gravedigger before speaking to Hamlet and presenting him with the jester Yorick’s skull. Our Gravedigger arrives with a trunk and a book and answers “questions” from the audience with pieces of text from Hamlet

See a little of Gravedigger's Tale below

Conceived and directed by Robert Richmond and performed by Louis Butelli, this forty minute interactive audience experience combines the text from Hamlet with some original and traditional music. 

Acting master classes and workshops are also available with the performance. 

Past performances include:

Manhanttan Arts Center, Manhattan, KS; Florida International University, Miami, FL; University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS; University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI; Amherst College, Amherst, MA; Museums of Oglebay Institute, Wheeling WV; Virginia Shakespeare Festival, Williamsburg, VA; Alabama Shakespeare Company, Montgomery, AL; Gallaudet University, Washington DC; Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA

Reserve Gravedigger's Tale for your venue here
or check the availability of Gravedigger's Tale with Beth Emelson 
at or 202.675.0388.


Special Engagement Benefactors: 
Bill and Evelyn Braithwaite
Denise Gwyn Ferguson


Robert Richmond
Folger Theatre: Julius Caesar, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Henry V, Othello, Henry VIII, Julius Caesar (2000).  As director of the Folger Shakespeare Library audio recordings: Julius Caesar, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Regional theaters include: The Lost Colony: The Lost Colony; La Jolla Playhouse; Denver Center for the Performing Arts; Two River Theater Company. Off-Broadway: Much Ado About Nothing, The Comedy Of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cyrano De Bergerac, The Iliad: Book One, King Lear, Twelfth Night, Agamemnon. Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina Theatre and Dance Department, Head of Undergraduate Performance. Directed Dreadful Sorry (written by Dionne O'Dell), winner of the South Carolina Film Commissions 2010 Production Grant. Education: Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.,  
Louis Butelli
Folger Theatre: Mary Stuart, Julius Caesar (2014, 2000), Twelfth Night (Helen Hayes nomination), Henry V, Henry VIII (Helen Hayes Award), Othello. Shakespeare Theatre Company: The Taming of the Shrew. Regional theaters include: ART, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory, Long Wharf Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Off- Broadway: Much Ado About Nothing, The Comedy of Errors, Agamemnon, Othello, Twelfth Night; The New Victory Theater: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; 47th St. Theater and Ars Nova: CYCLOPS: A Rock Opera (also director, co-writer, NYMF Award, Pulitzer Jury nomination, 3 LA Weekly Award nominations). Television: The Knick, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Unusuals, All My Children. Numerous national and international tours. Co-founder, Psittacus Productions. @louisbutelli.

Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renownedcenter for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. The library—a gift to the American people from industrialist Henry Clay Folger and his wife Emily Jordan Folger—opened in 1932.  

The Folger is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs—theater, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs, which connect broader audiences to our collections and support the living legacy of Shakespeare in contemporary life.  

Folger Theatre is the vibrant centerpiece of the Folger’s public programs. With a focus on Shakespeare,  Folger Theatre produces plays reflecting the breadth of the library’s peerless collection. In this unique setting, with collaborations between artists and experts, Folger Theatre produces innovative stagings that have been commended as “breathtakingly original... strikingly contemporary” (The Washington Post).   Led since 1991 by Artistic Producer Janet Alexander Griffin, Folger Theatre has received 135 nominations and 23 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in acting, direction, design, and production. During recent seasons Folger Theatre has received the Outstanding Resident Play Award for its productions of Measure for Measure in 2007, Hamlet in 2011 and The Taming of the Shrew in 2013. Other highlights from Folger Theatre’s producing history include these Helen Hayes Award recipients or nominees for outstanding production: Romeo and Juliet (2013), Orestes: A Tragic Romp (2010), Henry VIII (2010), Arcadia (2009), Macbeth (2008), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2006), Melissa Arctic (2006), She Stoops to Conquer (2002), Shakespeare’s R & J (2001), Much Ado About Nothing (1998), and Romeo and Juliet (1997).