BAMA Theatre Company beautifully reconstructed one of Shakespeare’s most complex and dark plays. Especially after enduring the tragedy of Hamlet before my eyes, I had so many opinions and questions burgeoning inside of me. The talk-back with the cast and directors after the show was a great eye-opener to many other ideas and realizations. I am completely grateful to Chris Roe (who played Hamlet) for giving me such great insight into one of history’s most treasured characters.
The High 5 Review: How do you memorize lines, specifically for Shakespeare?
Chris Roe: Last year, with As You Like It, I would become so nervous with trying to remember the lines. That would plague me. I would pick up the script and try to read over the lines before the show because I thought that I would forget them. I just made sure that I rigorously studied the Hamlet script and that I really knew my lines. Some words would help me memorize passages more easily. Once it’s ingrained in your head, it gives you a certain rhythm. I knew that once I got my lines down perfectly I’d be free enough to evolve with my character and make new discoveries.
H5R: How did the music evolve for this version of Hamlet?
CR: The Motley Coats formulated last year with Nick (Laertes), Sarah (Guildenstern), and I. Our director had said right from the very beginning that we would not be using any instruments in this show so we were limited. Yet, it was cool how we just began making music with found objects, like with the swords. It was also great how we used Ophelia’s songs throughout the show. It was all the same music but in different forms!
H5R: Favorite Shakespearean play?
CR: My favorite’s this one. I basically have been studying this play for over 10 years. I mean I first learned about it when I was about 18 years old and especially in the last six months I’ve gained a greater understanding of it.
H5R: How long did it take to prepare for this production?
CR: It wasn’t until last February when I was asked to do this production. It really was a six month process.
H5R: How do you bounce between both of Hamlet’s facades?
CR: Well, it all had to with knowing where to go with the character and doing so in a controlled manner. It was all about hitting those points as my character and not losing my awareness. Being very specific with the choices and not rushing the emotions also helped.
H5R: How did you prepare for this role?
CR: I focused and committed to this role as much as I could. Sometimes you think you know the role but then you make a discovery about it. That was what this entire process was all about. I had even gone to a former teacher of mine to ask for advice prior to beginning work on Hamlet. I remember watching an interview of Jude Law on Charlie Rose on which he said, “You don’t play Hamlet. Hamlet plays you.” That definitely resonated.
H5R: Did you bring any of your own feelings and emotions into this role?
CR: Definitely. There is a lot of grief and sadness that is mine. I brought a lot of myself into it and I definitely committed to the character’s emotions and uncertainties.
H5R: What’s next for you?
CR: I’m looking forward to being free for the next few months! I might take some time to change places and direct. In March of next year we’ll be taking Hamlet to New Brunswick, New Jersey and that’ll be exciting. It’ll definitely be interesting to do Hamlet again with a fresh new outlook after six months.