So, it is done. I would have posted sooner and given an update on the process last week but so much has changed from then to now and there was so much work to be done that I didn’t have the time. Anyway, as I say, the work-in-progress showings have been completed and our Hamlet Part One is something I think we can be proud of.
‘Part One’ made perfect sense, we were perhaps never going to be able to tell the whole story after a 4 week rehearsal schedule. Well, we could have done but I don’t think that would have done the group justice. It was a wise decision to pause and take stock of what we had at the end of the third week and to polish and embellish our existing material.
And what did we have/do we have? I think 81 minutes of intrigue, humour, atmosphere and terror, a piece that reminds us of our own wavering mortality and at the same time tells us of the immortality of Hamlet as a story, as a text and as a character. Hamlet is forever re-told and will continue to be long after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, yet within that life sits a tale of so much death. To be or not to be, yes, quite so… (Charlie Handy, below, as the first player, did a sterling job with that most iconic of speeches).
But where do we go from here? Onwards only! This is a work that needs to be developed, nay, deserves to be developed. New Tempest Club had grown as a project since last year’s Comedy Of Errors and everyone involved has progressed since then too. We’ve more experience and we’re getting better, our understanding of the text has improved and our performance of the text better as well. More so (and maybe I only speak for myself here) our affection for the words has grown. Shakespeare’s words (whether presented as blank verse or prose) are poetry but, we must remember, however brilliant the bard’s words are, they are not gospel. And by keeping this in mind we allowed ourself to be freed by the text, not constricted by it. We played scenes out of order, added modern English and didn’t even allow our Hamlet to muse most famously on life and death. This approach to the text mightn’t be wholly original but it worked for us and I am pleased with our creation.
Feedback for the show was excellent; friends, family and professionals alike all enjoyed the performance, and some were genuinely moved. I just hope now that we can take heed from what our audiences have said and develop the work further. It’s been a joy to get my teeth into Shakespeare again and I think we’ve created something really special with great potential for growth, and lest we forget, that was the aim of the project in the first place.
So, to that end, well done to everyone and for all, our thanks.
Above: Megan Blowey – bottom left, facing away (Marcellus & Rosencrantz), Emma Gutteridge – above Megan (Laertes & Guildenstern), Helen Grime – top left (project co-ordinator and The Fixer), Charlie Handy – right of Emma in the first column of seats (Horatio & First Player), Simon Plumridge – at the desk (Director, Designer, Maker & Ghost of King Hamlet), Josie Doig – above Simon, face blurred (Queen Gertrude), Becky Osborne – right of Josie (Polonius), Gemma Burges – lying on her front (Ophelia), Tom Preston – far right (Hamlet) and myself – out of shot, behind the camera (King Claudius).