Fat Ham


Fat Ham

Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  3w, 4m

In this delectably comic, Pulitzer Prize-winning reinvention of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, an uproarious family barbecue instigates a compelling examination of love and loss, pain and joy.

Image: 2023 Broadway Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3w, 4m
  • Duration
    90 minutes
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Shakespeare)
  • Audience
    Target Audience
  • Winner! 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    Winner! 2023 Obie Awards Special Citation
    Winner! 2023 Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award for New American Play
    Nominee: Five 2023 Tony Awards, including Best Play


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Ijames reinvents Shakespeare’s masterpiece with his new drama, a delectable comic tragedy. 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 opened on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre on 12 April 2023, after premiering off-Broadway at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater on 12 May 2022. Directed by Saheem Ali, the production featured Nikki Crawford, Chris Herbie Holland, Billy Eugene Jones, Adrianna Mitchell, Calvin Leon Smith, Marcel Spears and Benja Kay Thomas.
JUICY is thicc. 20-21, Black. He’s beautiful. He is lonely. He is smart. A kind of Hamlet.
TEDRA is Juicy’s mother. 45-50, Black. She is a good mother. A kind of Gertrude.
REV is Tedra's husband. 45-50, Black. Her dead ex-husband’s brother. Pigfarmer and pitmaster. Electric. A kind of Claudius. Same actor as PAP.
OPAL is one of Juicy’s only friends. 19-20. Black. She loves Ham and worries about him. A kind of Ophelia.
LARRY is a boy that is attracted to Juicy. 21-23. Black. A marine. Trying to heal from PTSD. Has a secret. Awkward. A kind of Laertes.
RABBY is Larry and Opal’s mother. 40-45. Black. Tedra’s friend. Semi-churchy but honestly she just wanna drink and praise the Lord. A kind of Polonius.
PAP is the Ghost of Juicy’s father. Appears 45ish. Black. Was in prison for killing someone cause their breath stank, til he got shanked on the way to dinner. A kind of Hamlet's Father. Same actor as REV.
TIO is clever. 20-40. Black or Afro-Latinx. Juicy’s cousin. Oldest friend. A kind of Horatio.
  • Time Period Contemporary, Present Day, New Millennium/21st Century, 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s
  • Setting A house in North Carolina (or Virginia, or Maryland or Tennessee). Late 20th or early 21st century.
  • Features Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 90 minutes
  • Cautions
    • Alcohol
    • Strong Language
    • Mild Adult Themes


“Stunning... both echoes Hamlet and finds a language beyond it.” – The New York Times

“The funniest and most invigorating new show on Broadway.” – Variety

“A delicious and irresistible piece of work... Sweet, saucy, and very funny, Fat Ham has enough good-time disco sparkle to win over all but the grumpiest of spirits.” – Deadline

“Delicious, funny and piercingly moving, Fat Ham is a celebration that’s as thoughtful as it is irreverent.” – Daily Beast

“Stunning... James Ijames’s outstanding transformation of Shakespeare’s tragedy into a play about Black masculinity and queerness both echoes Hamlet and finds a language beyond it.” – The New York Times

★★★★★ “Cheeky, clever... Newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner James Ijames turns the revenge play on its proverbial ear.” – New York Stage Review

“[Ijames] translates the domestic and political conflict of Hamlet to the modern South where he grew up. The resulting queer, Black, middle-class lens is inherently irreverent and a goof, but also liberating.” – Observer

“The tragedy of Shakespeare is replaced by something witty, moving and life affirming... Instead of the tragedy-and-then-some of Hamlet, this is a play that emphasizes life, and specifically Black queer joy, while interrogating all the things that conspire to negate the life and feelings of the central character... The play is a compact 90 minutes, but it’s as dense and thoughtful as it is light on its feet and irreverent.” – Daily Beast

“Uproarious... an unalloyed comedy pleasure.” – Wall Street Journal

“We need plays like the Pulitzer-winning Fat Ham... It is all unabashedly entertaining and one of a spate of enticing new plays that are destined to be seen on stages across the country, offering fresh hope to theaters and theatergoers who are willing the industry back to full health... One of the pleasures of Fat Ham is its wry act of appropriation; there’s affection, not snark, in Ijames’s embrace of the canon so that the contemporary frictions among the reimagined characters propel the play winningly into social satire.” – The Washington Post

“Don’t let that Pulitzer Prize fool you. Fat Ham is the most fun you'll have at any play this Broadway season.” – The Wrap


  • Fat Ham – Broadway Trailer youtube thumbnail

    Fat Ham – Broadway Trailer

  • Fat Ham "Quoting Shakespeare" Scene – The Public Theater youtube thumbnail

    Fat Ham "Quoting Shakespeare" Scene – The Public Theater

  • PBS NewHour Profile of James Ijames and Fat Ham youtube thumbnail

    PBS NewHour Profile of James Ijames and Fat Ham

  • James Ijames on Fat Ham – Backstage Banter youtube thumbnail

    James Ijames on Fat Ham – Backstage Banter


  • Fat Ham

    Image: 2022 Public Theater Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Fat Ham

    Image: 2023 Broadway Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Fat Ham

    Image: 2023 Broadway Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Fat Ham

    Image: 2023 Broadway Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Fat Ham

    Image: 2023 Broadway Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Fat Ham

    Image: 2023 Broadway Production (Joan Marcus)

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Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £70 per performance plus VAT when applicable.


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James Ijames

James Ijames is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, director and educator. James’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon, Wilma Theatre, Theatre Exile, Azuka Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), The National Black Theatre, JACK, The Public ...

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