Fat Ham

The New York premiere of James Ijames's play Fat Ham will begin performances at The Public Theater in May 2022. Fat Ham tickets will be available on New York Theatre Guide soon. 

Fat Ham is a play that follows Juicy, a queer, Southern college kid at a family backyard barbecue — specifically, a barbecue that serves as Juicy's mom's and uncle's wedding reception. While there, Juicy plans to avenge his father's murder (at his father's ghost's personal request). His uncle has seemingly committed the crime and certainly married Juicy's mother, in the hopes of getting his hands on Juicy's college fund and the family's restaurant. He's familiar with Hamlet — in which Shakespeare's titular prince gets a visit from his father's ghost and vows revenge on his uncle/stepfather — so he feels like he's living a familiar story.

But unlike Hamlet, Juicy struggles with his queer identity and liberation on top of his new quest, and he has doubts about committing violence to avenge violence. A New York Times review described Fat Ham as a play about "how a Black man — crucially, a gay one — may resist the cycle of inherited trauma even as it tempts him, whether in the form of a ghost or a literary tradition." Fat Ham is a comic tragedy that reexamines Shakespeare's landmark work with modernity and soul food.

Playwright James Ijames is based in Philadelphia, but his work has appeared both in Philly and off-Broadway in New York. Fat Ham made its world premiere in Philadelphia, although virtually — after the pandemic shut down an in-person production at the Wilma Theater, director Morgan Green filmed the production outdoors instead (on a full-fledged backyard barbecue set) and released it for streaming. Saheem Ali, who recently directed Jocelyn Bioh's Nollywood Dreams at MCC Theater and helmed the Public's Shakespeare in the Park production of Merry Wives, directs Fat Ham off-Broadway.

Tickets to Fat Ham off-Broadway will be available soon.

About Fat Ham:

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.

James Ijames
The Public Theater and National Black Theatre
Saheem Ali
Stacey Derosier
Mikaal Sulaiman
Maruti Evans
Darrell Moultrie
Dominique Fawn Hill
Cast list:
Marcel Spears (as Juicy), Nikki Crawford (as Tedra), Chris Herbie Holland (as Tio), Billy Eugene Jones (as Rev/Papp), Adrianna Mitchell (as Opal), Calvin Leon Smith (as Larry), Benja Kay Thomas (as Rabby)
Other info:
Hair and wig design by Earon Chew Nealey, props by Claire M. Kavanah, illusions by Skylar Fox, fight direction by Lisa Kopitsky
Fat Ham Performance Dates & Times
Previews from: 
May 12, 2022
Opening date: 
May 26, 2022
Booking to: 
June 19, 2022
June 19, 2022

Performance schedules for all shows are subject to change.

Product Id: 
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Public Theater

425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10003
Nearest subway station:
Astor Place Station

Latest Fat Ham News & Features

Pulitzer Prizes
'Fat Ham' wins 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
May 9, 2022

The winners of the 2022 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This year's winner is James Ijames's Fat Ham, with Kristina Wong: Sweatshop Overlord and Sylvia Khoury's Selling Kabul also being honored as finalists for the prize.

Fat Ham
'Fat Ham' sets full Off-Broadway cast
March 23, 2022

The Public Theater and National Black Theatre's production of Fat Ham has found its cast. Making its New York premiere this spring, James Ijames's reinvention of Shakespeare's Hamlet begins performances May 12 ahead of a May 26 opening night. Marcel Spears leads Fat Ham as Juicy, and the rest of the cast includes Nikki Crawford as Tedra, Chris Herbie Holland as Tio, Billy Eugene Jones as Rev and Papp, Adrianna Mitchell as Opal, Calvin Leon Smith as Larry, and Benja Kay Thomas as Rabby.

Our Fat Ham Review

Count on a play winning a Pulitzer Prize days before beginning New York performances to ramp up not just anticipation but also, let’s face it, expectations. So it goes for Fat Ham, a broad and rollicking riff on Hamlet at The Public Theater. Running 90 unbroken minutes, it is by turns hilarious, chaotic and weirdly lovely — like when a young man touches another and tells him: “You feel like a... Read more