Thursday night, 24th Jan
We started this project – HAMLET – in a church hall in Brixton – a poor, vibrant part of South London, UK. Now we’ve landed in the serene acres of Notre Dame, us 5 Brits – and our faces are set firm against the low Fahrenheit temperatures (unheard of in Britain) and we coo at each other’s brand new boots and coats and hats and scarves, specially purchased for this new cold world. Sure enough, after a slightly tetchy arrival, sweating profusely and overdressed in long johns at the airport on Saturday (What’s going on? They said it was COLD in Indiana? This is easy!), the temperature plummeted and rather pleasingly for us, the snow now lies on the ground, 5 days old, and this morning an astonishing blue sky to light us to Washington Hall, the very pretty late 19th Century theatre building where we rehearse in a well-lit expanse of high roof rafters and sash windows, an attic tennis court of a room where we very happily unpacked all our props and costumes – and rolled up our sleeves to unfold our attempt at Hamlet in America. We’re 5 days into our final rehearsal week, now, here in Notre Dame and it’s an obstacle course of all sorts of different shaped joys and challenges: Shakespeare’s verse we go to bed with and wake up with in our heads, but that’s the least of it. We had a fantastic welcome from Debra, Grant, Scott, Ryan, Ron, – and have dined with them, on several occasions, in a grand style and on feasts of such a magnitude ( by which I mean the size of the servings) that we simply have not come across before! Bison does not come on plates – let alone ‘bites’ in the UK, nor do onion rings resemble, well, cliffs of sandstone.
Meanwhile, we’re pushing on with Hamlet – trying to polish up what we’ve already got and coming across new ideas as we go along. Tomorrow we’ve our first preview and let’s see what happens….we’ve enough props that the stage is in danger of resembling Charles Dicken’s The Old Curiosity Shop – a violin, recorders, handkerchiefs, scarves, spectacles, plastic flowers, goblets, umbrellas, gongs, you name it – even as we try to honour the process of 5 actors without a director and ‘keep it simple’.
Here are some pictures of the joys and strifes….and more soon….
Shuna Snow –