All our Shakespearoes

Shakespeare Festival winners talk to The Guide

Shakespeare Festival winners talk to The Guide

SPOOKY: A comic scene from Lytton’s Hamlet.
THE GHOST: Campion’s Hamlet scene.
CREEPY: A scene from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.

Two gravediggers are shovelling it when the eponymous mad prince enters the scene in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet. In his stage directions Shakespeare describes the two men as clowns. Lytton High student Mat Hatten’s performance as one of them for the East Coast regional Shakespeare festival won the young actor direct entry to a week-long intensive. This means he skips the national festival in June several young Gisborne Shakespeareans won places in and goes directly to the National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) in September. Here he will join 46 secondary school actors in a week-long intensive that includes workshops, rehearsals and performances. From those 46 actors, 24 will be selected to workshop and perform at the Globe Theatre in London next year.

For his role in the 15 minute excerpt directed by Lytton High School drama teacher Tim Dagger, Hatten created for himself a comedic character who does not recognise Hamlet (played by Morgan Kibble) when the exiled Danish prince and his companion Horatio (Sho-hei Wake) encounter him. Braden Sycamore played the second grave-maker and a box draped with brown fabric served as a mound of excavated earth littered with plastic bones.

“My interpretation of the gravedigger was as a commoner, a labourer, with a Cockney accent and a hunched posture,” says Hatten.

“I imagined my gravedigger character was a bit older than Hamlet who asks ‘how long have you been doing this?’ The gravedigger says ‘it was the very day that young Hamlet was born’. He has to be quite old if he started this job in his late teens as grave-maker.

“I looked to bring out the comedy in the role.”

Directed by Jol Sparks, Campion College actors’ performance of scenes from Hamlet won the school’s actors a place in the national Shakespeare festival in June. The selected scenes centred on Hamlet’s encounter with his father’s ghost. The ghost tells Hamlet he was poisoned by his own brother who immediately married Hamlet’s mum.

“We mixed it up to focus on the scene in which Hamlet sees his father’s ghost; Hamlet processing whether the ghost was his father, and the play-within-a-play scene,” says Sparks.

During these scenes Hamlet agonises over whether the ghost was his father or a malignant spirit. He later employs travelling actors to play out the murder of his father in a bid to freak out his murderous uncle Claudius and expose his murder.

Costumed in a black puffer jacket Will Toon played Hamlet in the 15 minute entry and nine masked actors made up the ghost. The ensemble form meant they could play out scenes such as the murder of Hamlet’s father, says Sparks.

“We worked out different sounds and movements the ghost would make if a group of people made him up.

“He morphs and moves a lot. Sometimes only one student spoke while at other times all nine spoke.”

When the ensemble reenacted the moment the ghost tells Hamlet of his murder at the hands of his uncle some of the actors morphed into the bench Hamlet’s doomed father slept on when Claudius poured poison into his ear.

“Ensemble is a form I’ve come to enjoy teaching and devising over the years,” says Sparks.

“It’s a very physical and interesting way to tell stories. We were able to make the ghost come alive in a way people haven’t seen before.”

A “creepy” scene from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline was student director-actor Tyler Krutz’s choice for an entry into the festival. Exiled to Italy, Imogen’s husband Posthumus has been drawn into a bet with Iachimo — Krutz’s character — who says he will seduce Imogen and bring Posthumus proof of her adultery. Having failed in his attempt to seduce Imogen, Iachimo goes to Plan B. This scene is set in Imogen’s bedchamber.

“My character has snuck into Imogen’s bedchamber while she is sleeping and hides in a trunk,” says Krutz.

“He climbs out and looks around her room and looks at parts of her body.”

Iachimo’s plan was to steal Posthumus’s bracelet from the sleeping Imogen, and relate an intimate detail about her, to convince Posthumus he seduced his bride.

“I wanted the audience to feel like I over-reacted when I smelled he bedsheets,” says Krutz.

“I go to her bed and smell her sheets and look like ‘Oh my God, this smells amazing, like fresh white lilies, while still being weird about it.

“I wanted the audience to feel ‘that’s strange and not quite right’ because they will remember that. I heard people laugh and a few ‘oohs’.”

The audience will also remember the orange tights Krutz wore for the scene. This costume detail was a throwback to the part he played as a rooster in last year’s regional Shakespeare festival. A Girls’ High drama student, Krutz won the best student director category which means he and co-actors Maia Ingoe (Imogen) and Eve Mulligan (hand-maiden) are eligible for a place in the June national festival.

Two gravediggers are shovelling it when the eponymous mad prince enters the scene in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet. In his stage directions Shakespeare describes the two men as clowns. Lytton High student Mat Hatten’s performance as one of them for the East Coast regional Shakespeare festival won the young actor direct entry to a week-long intensive. This means he skips the national festival in June several young Gisborne Shakespeareans won places in and goes directly to the National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) in September. Here he will join 46 secondary school actors in a week-long intensive that includes workshops, rehearsals and performances. From those 46 actors, 24 will be selected to workshop and perform at the Globe Theatre in London next year.

For his role in the 15 minute excerpt directed by Lytton High School drama teacher Tim Dagger, Hatten created for himself a comedic character who does not recognise Hamlet (played by Morgan Kibble) when the exiled Danish prince and his companion Horatio (Sho-hei Wake) encounter him. Braden Sycamore played the second grave-maker and a box draped with brown fabric served as a mound of excavated earth littered with plastic bones.

“My interpretation of the gravedigger was as a commoner, a labourer, with a Cockney accent and a hunched posture,” says Hatten.

“I imagined my gravedigger character was a bit older than Hamlet who asks ‘how long have you been doing this?’ The gravedigger says ‘it was the very day that young Hamlet was born’. He has to be quite old if he started this job in his late teens as grave-maker.

“I looked to bring out the comedy in the role.”

Directed by Jol Sparks, Campion College actors’ performance of scenes from Hamlet won the school’s actors a place in the national Shakespeare festival in June. The selected scenes centred on Hamlet’s encounter with his father’s ghost. The ghost tells Hamlet he was poisoned by his own brother who immediately married Hamlet’s mum.

“We mixed it up to focus on the scene in which Hamlet sees his father’s ghost; Hamlet processing whether the ghost was his father, and the play-within-a-play scene,” says Sparks.

During these scenes Hamlet agonises over whether the ghost was his father or a malignant spirit. He later employs travelling actors to play out the murder of his father in a bid to freak out his murderous uncle Claudius and expose his murder.

Costumed in a black puffer jacket Will Toon played Hamlet in the 15 minute entry and nine masked actors made up the ghost. The ensemble form meant they could play out scenes such as the murder of Hamlet’s father, says Sparks.

“We worked out different sounds and movements the ghost would make if a group of people made him up.

“He morphs and moves a lot. Sometimes only one student spoke while at other times all nine spoke.”

When the ensemble reenacted the moment the ghost tells Hamlet of his murder at the hands of his uncle some of the actors morphed into the bench Hamlet’s doomed father slept on when Claudius poured poison into his ear.

“Ensemble is a form I’ve come to enjoy teaching and devising over the years,” says Sparks.

“It’s a very physical and interesting way to tell stories. We were able to make the ghost come alive in a way people haven’t seen before.”

A “creepy” scene from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline was student director-actor Tyler Krutz’s choice for an entry into the festival. Exiled to Italy, Imogen’s husband Posthumus has been drawn into a bet with Iachimo — Krutz’s character — who says he will seduce Imogen and bring Posthumus proof of her adultery. Having failed in his attempt to seduce Imogen, Iachimo goes to Plan B. This scene is set in Imogen’s bedchamber.

“My character has snuck into Imogen’s bedchamber while she is sleeping and hides in a trunk,” says Krutz.

“He climbs out and looks around her room and looks at parts of her body.”

Iachimo’s plan was to steal Posthumus’s bracelet from the sleeping Imogen, and relate an intimate detail about her, to convince Posthumus he seduced his bride.

“I wanted the audience to feel like I over-reacted when I smelled he bedsheets,” says Krutz.

“I go to her bed and smell her sheets and look like ‘Oh my God, this smells amazing, like fresh white lilies, while still being weird about it.

“I wanted the audience to feel ‘that’s strange and not quite right’ because they will remember that. I heard people laugh and a few ‘oohs’.”

The audience will also remember the orange tights Krutz wore for the scene. This costume detail was a throwback to the part he played as a rooster in last year’s regional Shakespeare festival. A Girls’ High drama student, Krutz won the best student director category which means he and co-actors Maia Ingoe (Imogen) and Eve Mulligan (hand-maiden) are eligible for a place in the June national festival.

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