Every actor should be aware of the peculiarities of the character, certain stories related to plays, and the way this character can be beneficially presented to the audience. The more an actor learns about the character, the more appropriate can be considered the method chosen to introduce this role. In other words, every character is another life with some difficulties and benefits that should be shown to the audience in the most remarkable way.
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So, if the character is supposed to suffer on the stage, the actor should be realistic to the extent that the audience believes the grief of the character and sympathises his/her feelings, emotions, and tragedies. In this respect, an actor should be prepared to persuade the audience and make the character more realistic and persuasive so that the audience felt the whole spectrum of emotions and challenges experienced by the character.
Finding the Light
As the play Hamlet is based on contradictions and numerous conflicts, it is necessary to show how the main character, the Prince of Denmark, faces difficulties and different challenges created by the fortune. I believe that the light should be of primary importance, especially for this play by William Shakespeare where the mood changes every moment and the main character should be lighted differently in different situations.
Thus, when Hamlet talks about his father and his mood and the mother tries to persuade him to be happier for her as she is going to get married, Hamlet should be in shade because “I am too much I’ the sun” (Shakespeare 9). This means that every step should be rehearsed in advance so that the audience did not think that an actor is going back and forth only to attract their attention.
The next important element to consider is the well-known monologue by Hamlet and his dialogue with Ophelia (Shakespeare 51). So, this scene is of crucial importance because it is widely used for allusions and other references as one of the most prominent scenes of the play. In this respect, I can act in two different ways: The first method includes being at the back of the back of the stage to the darker part of it thus making the audience pay particular attention to what is happening on the stage; on the contrary, I can move toward the audience to the lighter part of the stage making the audience see me and hear every word I use in the most whispering manner.
Voice: Loud and Whisper
The actor can grab the audience’s attention with the help of certain special effects, explosions, sparkling costumes, and other tricks. However, the most important effect can be produced with the help of voice. In this respect, I can use more energetic and loud tone while defending my point of view, telling other characters about my vision of the problem. In other words, all scenes where my character believes he is right should be accompanied with rather clear and loud tone contrasted to the scenes when the character experiences some doubts or learn about mysteries around him. For instance, I can use different tones even in the same line: “To be or not to be: that is the question” (Shakespeare 51).
This means that I shall pronounce ‘to be’ with the loud and resolute tone as if I had decided what to do and how to act in future. On the contrary, ‘or not to be’ should be pronounced with lower and less resolute tone as if I got heated and should reconsider my decision. Every tone should coincide with gestures and lighting; if I say something using low voice, I should stay in the back of the stage in a shade. However, I can stay in the light creating a contrast in this way.
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Learn the Directions
Every step should be taken consciously because the play cannot stand a mess on the stage. That is why I can use a great number of different techniques but each of those should be justified. For instance, I can change the directions vigorously when I say about revenge. This means that I can choose a line and go back and forth as if I am in agony or have an obsessional idea. This method can be applied to the dialogue between Hamlet and the ghost when a ghost of Hamlet’s father asks him for revenge. On the other hand, too much motion can destroy the image of the play and the main concept of the conflict.
In this respect, I can use motion when the character is supposed to change the emotion and the vision of the problem (I can move toward the audience when Hamlet is sure about his decision to act in revenge, when he wants to punish all who are to blame). Though the lack of motion can make the character look a bit sluggish, it can also make him look more resolute as he is sure about all his actions and feelings. Unfortunately, the play is based on the conflict and it the conflict should be in everything including voice, lighting, and motion.
Playing the role of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, I enter the stage for the first time after my friends had seen a Ghost. I know nothing about it. I enter a room of state in the castle. Being on the stage, there is no need for me to move too active. Moreover, I suffer from the dearth of my father, so I even do not want to move. I listen to the monologue by the King quite. When I start talking, I should move ahead to appear closer to the audience to make them feel what I do.
All the movements on the stage should show that I am in a deep grief. Crossing the stage, I should walk straight as I am a Prince, but at the same time all my movements, all my stature should show that I mourn over the death of my father. The next time I appear on the stage is when I talk to my friends, they tell me about the Ghost they saw. I should be in the center on the stage in this scene.
Depending on the content of the words which are exclaimed on the stage, my position may change. I may stay as a stone, when I need to express my thoughts to the audience, and I may move more active, when I worry and want to show it. It is important to discuss all these moments beforehand. The movement on the stage, as well as the position, may influence greatly my character and his expression on the stage.
There are two crucial combat moments in the play where I perform. These two scenes are considered to be the most difficult ones as I will have to create an illusion that I fight with Laertes (for the first time) and Claudius (for the second and the last time in my life). I am going to fight with a sword, so I need to learn fencing. It is important to learn how to do this in order to remain realistic whole fights. It is crucial for my character to remain active while the fight with Laertes.
But, after I am wounded I will have to fight less active, I would even say with some tension and against the collar. On the one hand, I am wounded, so I have to remember it while fighting with Claudius. On the other hand, there is a poison in my organism, so I should feel uncomfortable and broken. It is important to change my position on the stage while those fights. Fighting with Laertes I should be on the side of the stage still spotlighted. The fight with Claudius should be in the center of the stage as this is the culmination of my struggle, the killer is punished for his actions. I should choreograph all the movements, no one action or move should be spontaneous.
It is important to remain open to the audience. It is inadmissible to position a body on a diagonal. This creates an impression that I remain close to the viewers. This may also mean that I am not really open to people who look at me and this may leave an effect that I did not manifest the character of my hero. Emotional openness is important as well. Being on the stage I do not have scenes where I need to turn away my body from the audience.
It is important never back out for my character, Hamlet. Playing this role I will try, vice versa, to be open to the audience and to show them my pain and grief. The audience should understand that I am not sure whether I want to revenge or not. “To be or not to be…” (Shakespeare 51) is a phrase which makes viewers think about the emotional condition of my character. Such phrases and scenes in the play are very important. The level of my openness will be very high. I will have to do all possible to make the audience believe me.
I would like to conclude this essay with the words by William Shakespeare, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players” (Shakespeare and Somogyi 68). Even leading a normal life, we play different roles. Entering the stage, I should forget about the roles I play in real life and merge to playing. All the techniques mentioned above, namely finding a light, having a voice, directions and blocking, combat scenes and staying open create my character. Hamlet on the stage should express all feeling and emotions people experience while reading the book. It is inadmissible for me to change the main idea of the character as it is not the play written for me, it is the play I should submit to. The playing techniques mentioned in this essay may help me create an image I will have to express on the stage.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. London: Read Books, 2010. Print.
Shakespeare, William and Nick De Somogyi. As You Like It. London: Nick Hern Books, 2003. Print.