Next Monday our production of Hamlet opens to audiences in Portsmouth. The performance is part of the Portsmouth Festivities taking place in the city this summer. I’ve been a member of the Southsea Shakespeare Actors for three years, and this company has become a huge part of my life. This particular show is the first time the company has ever written a blog, and not just one blog, but two!
The director of the show, Danny Carter, came up with the idea as part of a range of activities to market the show. The production blog features posts from various members of the cast on the rehearsal process, characterisation, even a fight workshop. We also created a blog newspaper called The Dane, to help create the world of the characters outside of the show, bringing them to life for the audience before they even enter the auditorium. Fellow cast members Courtney Appleton and Sahna Jubb did most of the writing and I acted as a kind of editor. At rehearsal the other day we found out a local school has been using the two blogs in the classroom, which is fantastic – we hoped people would read them but we could never have even dreamed they would be used as an educational tool!
A local company called Trash Arts Productions have created some fantastic video footage for us, some of which features on the newspaper blog. Check out our report on the death of Hamlet Snr, which also acts as a nice little trailer for the show.
This Hamlet is set in a fictional modern day, politically fraught world that will ring true with anyone in today’s society. The play revolves around the idea of the state as a diseased body, a theme reflected in last year’s London riots. Danny says: “It is very much the peoples’ actions that define a country. If the people aren’t happy, there is no remedy.”
Through this production of Hamlet we see an expression of public responsibility being portrayed: our actions have consequences. For Danny, Hamlet represents an impoverished society: “His decisions bring about the downfall of the state in the same way that public rebellion can today.”
There was a lovely piece in the local newspaper the Portsmouth News today (see below) that mentioned The Dane, so hopefully that will give its readership a nice little boost!
This is Danny’s first time directing, with Nick Downes, an established actor and director in the SSA, as assistant director. Danny says: “The great thing about directing this play is that everyone is working hard to make it fresh and put a new take on Shakespeare’s words. It’s a testament to the timelessness of the writing that it can be developed in this way hundreds of years later.”
The Southsea Shakespeare Actors (SSA) were formed in 1947 and have been in the Guinness Book of World Records twice, for being the first company to perform the full Shakespeare portfolio and then again for being the first to do it twice. Based in Southsea, Portsmouth, the company’s main focus is Shakespeare but we also put on smaller, more contemporary plays.
If you’re in Portsmouth and fancy a spot of Shakespeare, head on down!
Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 June, 7.30pm, Royal Naval and Royal Albert Yacht Club; Thursday 27 to Saturday 29 June, 7.30pm, Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth. Recommended age 12 years + Tickets £10, Concessions £8. Runs approx 150 mins with interval.