Last night we ran both Acts One and Two. Only Two was on the schedule, but at the request of "Guildenstern", we did both acts, to establish flow.
I don't mind so much since it is he and the other lead that are in most need of as most practice as possible. (We open two weeks from yesterday!!) I just have so little to do in Act One that I can sometimes get restless waiting. I have enough to say in Act Two for it to not be so bad, and in Act Three I have nothing to say but have a lot of stage time, so that also helps things. But Act One...
I am happy to report however that with the exception of one or two minor flubs, I rehearsed totally off book yesterday. So I am going to go ahead and declare myself off book for this show. It is just as well. The deadline is Monday. (Though I don't know how the leads are going to manage that...)
The director wasn't present yesterday, so the rehearsal sort of ran itself. "Claudius" was also not present, as is normal for this actor, who likes to claim a free schedule during auditions, and then proceed to skip out on 60% of rehearsals. I had to deal with that in the last play I was in with this actor. But thankfully he and I do not share the stage in this play.
Now that I am off book for the most part, I am starting to get a feel at last for playing Hamlet. As I have said from the start of this production it was my intention to play Hamlet in this show as though I were really playing Hamlet in Hamlet. Now I am sure when I do play the real Hamlet I will have much more to offer than I do in this show, but nonetheless I am starting to feel as though there is a character there, despite his small amount of stage time.
Given that about half of the moment's I appear are during times when Hamlet is pretending to be crazy, that has of course informed some of my decisions. The other half of my lines involve a Hamlet who is plotting to trap Claudius, has just killed Polonious, or who is weeding out the "conspiracy" his friends have laid against him. Ergo I am trying to show his cunning, and also his (mostly) contained anger during these sections. I also have to play some affection mixed with anger during the super brief moments I am with Ophelia on stage. That will take the longest to perfect, I would think.
The large blocks of time I spend off stage will also help, in a way, because as I am off with myself, either going over lines or contemplating the next scene, I experience in microcosm that sort of stand offish quality, that isolation that is so essentially to the Hamlet I am creating. Hamlet himself is rather stand offish one could argue, and that is even more pronounced when the audience only sees him for a moment or two at a time.
All and all the lines as well as the motivations for Hamlet seem to be coming quite naturally. Part of it is because I work hard to be a good actor, yes. But another large part is probably how familiar I am with the Hamlet lines, having read the play so many times. Even some of the obscure lines I have had to deliver have been vaguely familiar in the deepest reaches of my mind. Not memorized but recognizable. Like for the first time in ten years seeing an old school mate whom you didn't talk to much. You know you know them somehow, because there were there. You just can't quite place all the details yet. This wasn't true for all of my lines in this play, but more than half, I'd say.
In either case this play is in fact serving as a good spring board for catching the first glimpses, finding the first hint of choices for when I play the character in the actual "Hamlet". (Which I hope to do within a year or two.) That reason alone is enough to be grateful for this chance. Despite the sometimes long restless waits backstage for an entrance of mere moments.
(And once the audio monitors are hooked up, I can retreat to the semi-comfort of the green room when I am not on.)
In about 30 minutes I leave for a rare Saturday afternoon rehearsal. We'll be running Act Three: my silent act. (I guess "the rest is silence" after all.) But I have some silent background stuff. Plus we have yet to set up the final tableau moment where all of the characters from "Hamlet" are laying on the ground, already dead. Actually it is not a tableau since Horatio begins to deliver his eulogy of Hamlet, but close enough. We have not run that yet when I have been there.