Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Produced by Bottoms Dream
Directed by Nat Angstrom
What happens when you take two of Shakespeare’s best known tragedies and weave their plots and characters together? As a part of their “Weaving Series” the theatre company Bottoms Dream explores this intricate and intriguing process.
“Beginning with lines ‘to die, to sleep no more’ (from Hamlet) and ‘methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!' (from Macbeth), we wove the two plays into a single storyline, allowing characters and plots from each world to reflect and affect one another,” explains producer and actress Caitlin White. “Through this process, each play's story and relationships took on new depth and complexity.” In The Ghost, King Duncan Macduff's country is at war. While leading his brother's army in battle, Claudius Macbeth experiences a supernatural event that promises his ascension to the throne. He and his brother's wife, Gertrude, plot to murder the king and marry each other. Disenfranchised, Prince Hamlet and his wife Ophelia work together to uncover the truth, unaware that their friends, soldiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, have sworn service to the new king, Macbeth.“Our hope was to present two of Shakespeare's best-known works in an original format, with his lines woven together in an unfamiliar way. We wanted the audience to hear and see these characters as if for the first time and to imagine a brand-new way of revisiting Shakespeare's canon,” explains White.
Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role nominee, John Hardin, who played Rosencratz was enthusiastic about the experiment. “I love the text of Hamlet, so I was excited to get an opportunity to work on some of my favorite material with some of my favorite people in a totally new way.” The project also reunited old friends “I have been friends with Nat and Caitlin, the creators of the show, for quite a while. And my favorite part was being paired with Matt Castleman as Guildenstern. He's an old and great friend, and we had a fantastic time playing off each other,” says Hardin.
Because the story and characters were shaped specifically for the actors portraying them, Hardin found himself utilizing new skills. “This show was the first time I've ever played the harmonica onstage,” says Hardin. “It was also the first time I ever pretended to drown someone in a bathtub. I'm curious to see which one happens again first.”
Weaving two such epic stories requires a great deal of editing and discipline. It is not surprising that new dimensions or character facets would be discovered through the process. “As we revealed more of Claudius Macbeth's choices, the character began to skew towards the sympathetic. Inversely, Rosencrantz became more embittered and disillusioned after returning from war and failing to reintegrate into his old life. The character surprised us in its complexity and we are so glad that actor John Hardin has been nominated for his dark and haunting portrayal,” say White.
Congratulations to John Hardin and the cast and crew of The Ghost for your bravery to tackle such an complex concept in the endeavor of creating something new and exciting.
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