How now, Hamlet?
As I write this, we are in rehearsal and have just completed blocking the show. We are finding our way through and starting to really form our 110 minute visit to Denmark. As I have mentioned before, this is my third Hamlet and it has proven to be more surprising than I had expected. In last month's blog, I stated that I have wanted to play Gertrude for years. Years. It has been one of my dream roles and I have spent a lot of time thinking about her journey. I thought I had a pretty good idea what that journey would be....I didn't.
The thoughts I had formed about the relationships, the betrayals and ultimately (spoiler alert!) her death were not at all what I am experiencing. There are, of course, several reasons for this. One being, as we are performing our abridged version, we are staying true to the world created by the cut. While knowledge of the full script is helpful and necessary for character arc development much of it, in reality, is now moot. This Hamlet is not a play of inaction....it is a play of chaos and decisions made on a dime. Honestly, not something I had ever considered. We are people reacting to constantly changing and distressing situations. Something truly is rotten in our state of Denmark.
I am discovering an edge to Gertrude I had not expected. Her frustrations at not being able to fix anything...her son, her court, her life. She is a woman who has had the bottom ripped out at the moment she was feeling at her highest, been forced to self reflect and found herself wanting. Then, in this state of vulnerability, she is hurled in to demise. Life changes in a nano second and sometimes, we just can't keep up. So....so. Does she know about the murder? Does she suspect? And if so, how complicit is she? These are the questions with which I am currently wrestling. I did have an incredible ah ha moment the other night in rehearsal. Gertrude has collapsed, "Look to the Queen there, ho" and no one...no one...looked to the queen. It was one of those delicious organic moments that happen in rehearsal...no one looked to the Queen. Not Claudius, not Hamlet, not a single servant. No one. And that metaphor is informing my discoveries this week.
The collaborative process changes everything, any preconceived notions one may have and it is more important than ever, not only in our creative work, but in our lives, to remember this. Collaboration is fulfilling and educational and satisfying and delightful and ultimately, it brings out the best in everyone. It brings out the best in our art and it brings out the best in our life.
O, it's good to be in rehearsal again!
ArtFarm presents: Hamlet
July 12 - 16 & 19 - 23
All Performances at 8 pm
Middlesex Community College
100 Training Hill Road