Happy New Year, loyal blog readers! I hope your holiday season went well.
I could think of no better time than the start of whole new year, where thoughts turn towards blank slates, goals, and starting fresh, to make this theatre related announcement. So if you are in the Frederick County, Maryland area, or know somebody who is, listen up.
Early next year, I will be mounting my own production of Shakespeare's Hamlet. I'll be playing Hamlet myself. (How Olivier of me.)
How? When? Where and with whom? All of that depends. Ideally, it will be with a highly dedicated cast, willing to commit to such an undertaking. Because I plan this to be not just a production, but as the first step in forming a new acting company.
Note I say "acting" company, because I won't be spending resources trying to secure a permanent venue. Resources will be allocated to recruiting talent, and creating the art itself. I envision 10-12 people as part of this troupe, each contributing to multiple facets of the company, on stage and off.
Naturally, neither staging Hamlet nor starting an acting company can be accomplished overnight. Which is why I am giving this about a year before even thinking about performing. That time will be dedicated to the creation of the group, forming of the cast, and only later, interpretation and vision for the piece itself. Then we can schedule performances.
I am seeking all kinds of people of course. But the first person I will need, and sooner as opposed to later, is a partner to sit near me at the top of the pyramid if you will. I, as founder and artistic director will need a co-founder type of person who can be the yin to my yang without being antagonistic. Someone who will complement me where I have strengths, and make up for me where I am weaker. Someone for whom I will do the same. A more business/practicality oriented person to balance the artistic. (Though not lacking in artistic merit themselves of course.) A fellow actor could do it, but I think the position might be best served by either a non-actor theatre fan, or an actor who opts not to do acting with this company.
This is where all of you reading this come in. I realize many of you are either not theatre people yourselves, or are otherwise busy with your own artistic lives and communities, which is good. So, while you are welcome to talk to me in greater detail to see if this volunteer position might be for you, what I will truly appreciate right now is being introduced to other local people you know who may want to join with me in bringing this about.
But what kind of person?
Like I said, a practical, down to earth, organized arts lover. Someone to whom I could talk on a regular basis. Someone reliable. Dependable. A person who shares, or at least admires my particular vision of theatre and acting. (Which I will describe in a moment.) Someone who will not want to take over with their own vision. Do you know such a person? If you do, please contact me to get this ball rolling.
Of course, a partner is not the only person I will seek. That is just the first person I am seeking. I will eventually need performers and other theatre types to make up both this individual cast, and hopefully a few permanent members of this company. So if you, or someone you know would be interested in participating in this project in later stages, please let me know that as well.
Regardless of what capacity a person is interested in filling, I need to give folks an idea of my vision for the nature of the production and the company. (It is far too early to discuss specific interpretations of the play itself. That comes later.) So here are the core tenants as it stands now:
--Minimalist. Minimal costumes, props and sets. The key is to spend most of the time rehearsing and creating, so as to be able to take a production to almost any space and perform it with little to no prep. This I feel is more easily accomplished when there is less…"stuff" to worry about procuring, storing and transporting.
--A season would consist of one or two plays at most, to increase the amount of time dedicated to polishing one show, and performing it.
--Self-governing. The group makes decisions for its own future, together. In essence, it would be its own board of directors.
--Organized. Regular meetings throughout the year, conducted in a formal style that the importance of the subject matter deserves. A format that allows everyone a chance to contribute. (Possibly an adapted Roberts Rules format for formal meetings of this nature.)
--Traveling. As an acting troupe (vs. a full theatre company), there would be, at first, no permanent venue, but rather a willingness and ability to take the current production to various performance spaces in the area. (Which would have to be sought out and secured.) Anyone within a certain radius who has a space and would be willing to host us for free or for a nominal rental fee will be considered.
--Classic material. That is to say royalty-free material. (Such as Shakespeare, Greek drama.) The possibility of doing original material would be discussed as the group took shape.
--Utmost and constant respect for and dedication to the artistic process of each individual. Drafting a mission statement pursuant to those ends.
It is not my intention to create a company for the purposes of competing with or overshadowing any other theatre community, but rather to add something a bit different to the cultural options in the area. Other than time commitment, (which I would expect from all participants), I see no reason why during the building phase folks couldn't continue to appear in other shows in other venues. I myself certainly intend to participate in other companies during the building process at least.
In closing, why start with Hamlet? Am I crazy? Yes. But that isn't why I am starting with Hamlet. I figure the play is not done by volunteers very often because it is feared, by both actors who think it is too difficult, as well as by theatre boards who assume an audience cannot be found for such fare. I intend to show that it can and will be found.
If I am going to do something like this, might as well hit the ground running and start big. And it will certainly separate the kids from the adults when it comes to recruiting, won't it?
So I am going to play Hamlet. Despite the challenge and despite some who suggest you have to be younger to play Hamlet. And I am going to play him regardless of how my plans go for a troupe. If we have just three people and have to rewrite it so all of the roles are shared, we will do that. If we can only have a full cast if it is done as a dramatic staged reading, we will do that. If it comes down to it and it's just me, I'll rewrite the thing as a one man show if I have to. But the journey to playing Hamlet in some fashion begins with this New Year.
So, if this sounds like anybody you know, put them in contact with me, please, and soon. (firstname.lastname@example.org.) If deep down you think this sounds like you, let's talk. But be ready to really talk quite a bit. Again, I need the partner first, the rest of the troupe will follow once my partner and I have laid some groundwork.