Nicole Richmond | Oct. 5
Florida Southern’s theater program is kickstarting the year with its first performance of the semester: Hamlet.
The play, originally supposed to premiere on Sept. 30 but had to be canceled as a result of Hurricane Ian, will be coming to the Buckner theater starting Thursday, Oct.6.
Hamlet is about the dead King of Denmark, appearing to Hamlet, his son. He urges Hamlet to avenge his untimely death by killing the new king, his brother and Hamlet’s uncle. After the new king hears about the plot Hamlet has devised to kill him, he devises his own plan to kill Hamlet. There is drama, a duel, love, death, comedy and tragedy surrounding the characters in this play.
While this play may not sound familiar unless you read it in your high school English class, there is a pretty famous line: “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
The rehearsal was incredibly interesting to watch and observe the intricacies that occur in the week leading up to the big show.
The rehearsal I attended is known as a “dry run” in which the actors do their best to be “off-book” and see how well their memory is of the lines. Some props are used, but none of the costumes are worn and it is still pretty casual.
If an actor forgets a line, they are to shout “line” and someone off stage will read a few words to jog their memory. It was impressive to see how the actors would shout “line” in tone with the scene. For example, if one was angry in a scene and they forgot their line, one angrily shouts “line” as to not break character.
It was also interesting to see how the stage was utilized as there are 3 levels to it. There is the base of the stage in which certain characters would be seen conversing, a first level to the stage, and some stairs leading up to a second story. Every aspect of the theater is involved, as Hamlet even has lines in the audience and shouts to the characters on the main stage. Something else to note is how there is constantly someone on the stage. When a scene between two characters is over, more people immediately walk on the stage as those characters exit.
After the cast ran through the full show, the director Paul Bawek, gave the cast some notes and they re-ran certain scenes. This allows for constructive criticism to occur and things to be fixed for the show this upcoming weekend.
After the rehearsal, I was able to interview Zachary Covell who is a Senior B.F.A. Theater Performance Major. He is playing the lead of Hamlet and was able to answer some of the questions I had.
The Southern: Is there anything you want people to know before seeing this play?
Covell: Have an understanding of the story before you come because it’s so much. If you don’t know the story it becomes increasingly difficult to understand. We all put in weeks of research into our lines and stuff, but if you’re in the audience, you don’t get that.
The Southern: How long have you all been rehearsing this for?
Covell: We started the beginning of the second week of school. From beginning to end we usually have four weeks and four days. So, a lot to learn in a really short amount of time.
The Southern: What does this character mean to you?
Covell: The character means to me the love of my father. Everything [Hamlet] feels and does is through the lens of the love of his dad. When he grieves his death in the beginning of the show he is told his grief is “unmanly” yet he sticks it out and avenges his father.
The Southern: What has been the biggest struggle you have had to overcome for this role?
Covell: The biggest struggle, aside from getting past memorizing the lines, is that Hamlet is a thinker. Being able to think and find out these thoughts for the first time every night is very hard. His thoughts often slow down or speed up his quest, and he wants to remain a moral person but also a person who won’t be stopped from getting his revenge. There is always a struggle within Hamlet. While his line, “To be or not to be” is most famous, many of his lines struggle with the dichotomy of his situation.
The premiere of Hamlet will be Oct. 6 with performances being held throughout the weekend, with the final matinee on Oct.9 at 2:30 p.m. Typically the Theatre department has shows for two weekends, due to hurricane Ian the first set of shows were canceled and are not planned to be rescheduled.