“Hamlet” Fall Tour — Week 5

by Grace Andrews

The aftermath of our showing last week has brought one word to all of our attention – simplicity. We have pushed far in creative exploration of this story – and now it is our job to tell the story with the most truth and clarity possible, and bring it to America with pride!

Often, the solution to this is to simply do less. As an actor, it is hugely tempting to be interesting. In doing so, occasionally we move further away from the truth of simply being able to stand and speak, and let the text soar uncluttered.

From L to R: Ben Eagle, Grace Andrews, Wendy Morgan.

At the airport, I touched base with Wendy Morgan (Gertrude, Rosencrantz, Horatio and Lucianus) and Ben Eagle (Claudius, Francisco, Gravedigger) to ask them where their heads were at as we embarked on the next stage of our adventure.

Wendy Morgan

G – How do you feel about Gertrude?
W – I’m still in a process which won’t end, so I don’t feel I’ve arrived at anything I’m totally happy with yet, but I feel like I have a good base to kick off from. Although actually, last night, I completely questioned what I was doing, and thought hmm, but then I thought, no – maybe I am on the right path.

G – What have you found your main challenge to be so far?
W – I’d say – waiting. Normally if a situation is uncomfortable I might want to resolve it, but I’m trying to wait and allow it to be uncomfortable, and not rush into save everything, just allow, and trust everyone is alright, I suppose.

G – And what has been your main joy?
W – Being with everyone and working on this play, in the way we’re doing it, and taking it on tour to America, and being able to talk to students about this process.

G – What do you prioritise when working on Shakespeare?
W – The structure of the verse and the prose – The Form.

G – How do you feel about your role within this company?
W – Every single Shakespeare part I would love to play. I feel like there’s literally no small part in Shakespeare, as it’s all part of this big piece of music. So yeah, I’m so grateful to be playing Gertrude, who’s quite difficult in the underwritten way she is, but I’m also playing Horatio, amongst others, so that really is quite a rounded experience.

G – Anything to add?
W – I’m honoured to be a part of this project, for many reasons, particularly because my teacher was Peter Hall, and he gave me all that I know, and I’m honoured to be able to share that.

Ben Eagle

G – How do you feel about Claudius?
B – Ooh, he’s a good-looking chap, ha. He’s the villain of the piece, but equally to knowingly play a villain is not a helpful way to approach a character. I’d like to find the truth in him, and why he does what he does.

G – What have you found your main challenge to be so far?
B – Working with such talented actors, and trying to match their phenomenal talent, of course.

G – And what has been your main joy?
B – My biggest joy, is after five weeks of turbulence, and pleasure and creativity, we have a version of Hamlet which is now clear and succinct, and I hope a pleasure to perform and a joy to watch.

G – How do you feel about taking this play to the USA?
B – Well America is a very interesting place, and I think Hamlet throws up so many different themes and arguments, that each individual audience, no matter where you’re from, will draw something different from it. But it’s not up to me to make that decision. I’ll try and say the words like I mean them, that’s all.

G – What do you prioritise when you speak Shakespeare?
B – On this project, I have been encouraged to use the verse more, which can be extremely useful. It’s not something I immediately go to. I try to find the sense in the line, which is interesting as I think the sense definitely comes from the verse. That’s been a learning curve for me. I want to make the words mine, despite the fact that they are sometimes archaic and it’s poetry – a heightened language, my aim would be to make it as naturalistic as possible.

G – Anything to add?
B – It’s been a joy so far, and I can’t wait to perform to the American students and faculties. When do we get paid?