I have failed in my half-promise to blog every night this week. For that, I am sorry. But I just want to say, that today, has been one of the greatest days I’ve had here in Sheffield. Truly, a great, great day.
It started with an early start, venturing into town to get some much needed food before I was whisked away with Jonny Humphreys on a Shakespeare voyage to a local High School in Sheffield. I was fortunate to be asked by Jonny to help in a Shakespeare / Hamlet workshop to a 34 strong group of pupils who study Theatre Studies at their school - who were also attending the show this evening.
It’s wonderful to see eager pupils so interested in drama. A mixture of 17 & 18 year olds who were by the most part, a very keen group of students, interested in the works of Shakespeare and Hamlet. Most of them having never seen a production of Shakespeare, let alone Hamlet, were ever attentive and fully up for getting their hands dirty and jumping in the deep end, so to speak and work through some of the tasks Jonny had set out for them. Starting with the famous ‘To be, or not to be’ speech, they split up into pairs and worked through the thoughts and actions Hamlet is thinking about. Every step, Jonny adding another layer, getting them to punctuate each thought with a different movement, also getting them to question the words in the speech that they didn’t understand to get some clarification. It was so nice to see them so eager to work and I was in awe of their respect for each others work and ideas about it.
It was also nice for me, who’s nothing to do with that moment in the play, to discover how I would say the famous speech. And try some of the tasks out myself, to see if they could bring out in me some deeper understanding of the text. Next, we moved on to the opening scene, very much like the ‘page to stage’ workshop we held at the theatre not so long ago. Again, the scene was met with enthusiasm, and myself reading in my own part of Barnardo. I found it bizarre, a crystal moment of weird-ness to hear other actors read in the lines that I was so familiar of hearing by my fellow cast members. Refreshing then, to hear the words of this scene being brought to life in a completely different way than say of Colin, or Rod.
They broke off in to pairs of 4 or 5, and gave a little rendition, their take on the opening scene. It was lovely to see younger actors, bring a whole new idea to the opening scene - which later I think, would give a huge pay off when they saw it done at the Crucible. After all that, a quick Q & A and off I was, back to the Crucible to do our last Thursday performance of Hamlet! I told you it was a tick lists of ‘lasts’.
Tonight was a good show, everyone on top form, playing, not denying or inventing - but merely enjoying the play and all that it’s worth. Both John’s are forever playing, trying out new stuff, saying lines differently and making the show, then, a completely different one from that of rehearsals. The last scene itself was gripping, mesmerising. The hush of the audience when John collapses in Colin’s arms and says, ‘… the rest they say, is silence’ gave me goosebumps.
But nothing, NOTHING could have predicted what was going to happen at the curtain call. After all the nods and bows we all do separately as a company, at the end of the play we all join hands as a whole and give one last bow to the audience. At this time, almost the entire Crucible auditorium stood, in unison, to appreciate what they had just seen. It was incredible. A moment that I will cherish forever. It is saved in the memory bank. We just stood there, not wanting to bow because the applauding was so overwhelming. Then like a bunch of school kids, ran off to the dressing room and giggled and swooned over what we had just achieved. A moment of pure joy, gratification and sadness. Ay, sadness. Yes, I said it.
Because my dear readers, we have only 3 more shows to go. THREE! And our Hamlet will be put to rest. I wish it could go on for longer, but I think there’s something special in the fact that it is such a short run and not in ‘the home of theatre’ : London. It’s like a present we have bestowed on Sheffield and those lucky enough to have seen it have been a part of that present.
I can’t complain anymore, about the coughing or my own displeasures at a bad performance. I’m in a great show, with a fantastic cast that I will without any hesitation call my family.
How lucky am I, eh? Theatre is a magical thing.