“Hamlet” Fall Tour — Week 2

By Grace Andrews

The second week of rehearsal often brings a sense of freedom, as you start to move past the initial tiptoeing and polite hesitation into a place of building momentum and trust. We begin to get used to our space and its eccentricities, as much as we get used to each other and our unique rhythms. We start to make bolder choices; and through learning how to empower each other to speak, how to rally together when something is tough, and how important it is to have a cup of tea (very) – our ensemble begins to form.

The second week also brings a slight undercurrent of chaos. Wonderful imaginative chaos, but chaos nonetheless. We are overflowing with ideas, and as they fall out of us and into the space it can sometimes feel like we can’t see the wood for the trees. We duck and dive through concepts, characters, creativity – and sometimes we get lost. We are linked by our fierce passion for this story, but there is a danger of running too fast before we can walk, and falling over. But we get back up, and there is a beauty in that. In failing, spectacularly, we begin to surprise ourselves with the courage to own this process. This is as thrilling as it is terrifying – because what if we fail? ‘We fail. But screw our courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail…’ – (hold on, wrong play?)

We tumble through processes, methodologies, references, comparisons, and anecdotes. With no director, it can feel like we are five actors let loose and the rehearsal room is our playground. No rules. No watchful outside eye. There is a need to be clever, and an actor’s temptation to be interesting – both of which are healthy and inspiring – but when do we lose the story within the style?

A theme that keeps coming up to face us, head on – is gender. We cannot ignore that we have the Madeleine Hyland as our Hamlet, Wendy Morgan as our Horatio, myself as Laertes. Or can we? How important is it that we are women? Does it matter? Is it a strength? In a time where gender politics are hysterical and rife – is it enough that we speak the words, and we are human beings? Do we owe it this story to champion our feminine strength and experience?

My mind spins, and I take a moment to step back from the constant de-layering of this play. In our questions we share a sense of curiosity, which I believe to be an actor’s most vital tool.

We sadly have had Noel White leave us this week, due to family reasons, and we will miss him wholeheartedly. His energy, charisma and sense of humour lit up the room, and it is a testament to this work that after just two weeks, we felt a fondness and love for his unique spark and his Polonius.

We welcome in Peter Bray, who is wonderful, and so we look forward to Week 3 with a fresh dynamic and a new sense of play. Let the questions continue!