MUNCH — (Munich NOW Arts & Culture) — Local Munich English-language theatre company, Entity Theatre e.V., is presenting William Shakespeare’s Hamlet on 12-15 and 19-22 July. Conny Loder and Alison Rolle’s adaptation presents Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy in an abridged version, telling the story of young prince Hamlet, caught between love, family honour and revenge.
We met some members of Entity Theatre’s current production, Hamlet, at the Theatron, Westpark. The Hamlet members have given given us an inside look at the rehearsal process, favorite moments, and what makes Entity’s Hamlet such a unique show.
MN: With Hamlet, you clearly have chosen a big play. Why Hamlet?
Conny Loder (Director): Hamlet is probably the greatest Shakespeare play ever written. It has a bit of everything: Psychological complexity, every emotion known to man and a stunning plot. Bringing it to life, we have tried to incorporate moments that you don’t usually see on stage, so our Hamlet is much different from any other Hamlet I have seen. Apart from that, we had done four comedies, it was time to do a tragedy. So why not start with the best tragedy that there is?
John Yates (King Claudius): When Conny suggested a tragedy – in particular this one – we were dubious. But now that we can see it coming together I think she was absolutely right. It will be every bit as entertaining as the previous years and I’m sure our regular customers will not be disappointed.
Veronica Cancio De Grandy (Assistant Director): True. It’s a good time. A fun production. A wonderful cast. A great adaptation. The Theatron is great and it’s a relaxed, informal atmosphere in which to enjoy an epic story through a new interpretation.
Tai Steyn (Polonius): Hamlet is the story of murder, revenge and the duality of human nature. Come for the sword fights and death, stay for the soliloquies.
Ken Lawler (Producer): Oh come on. The real reason we chose Hamlet is because we have an actress who was born to play Hamlet. It is seldom to find the combination of a smart-ass youth, a dedicated actress and a Shakespeare scholar. Alex cannot wait 10 years to play Hamlet; now is the time.
MN: Does this mean that you portray Hamlet as female?
Conny Loder: No, not at all. Many actresses have played Hamlet before, Michelle Terry at the Globe Theatre does it right now, and usually none of them portrayed him female. The character is so universal that it does not matter if he is played by a man or woman. On the contrary, the character offers itself to be cast this way.
MN: Ken, you not only produce the show but also design the set. Can you tell us something about the set for Hamlet?
Ken Lawler: Shakespeare said “Let us on your imaginary forces work. Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts. For tis your thoughts that must … turn the accomplishment of many years into an hour glass.” Our audience must piece together our set and our situation and so interact with it and become part of it. Combine that interaction with entrances, exits and action through the audience and with the nearness of the stage; it is as if the audience were snooping in on and sometimes taking part in very intimate happenings in the household of a family in crisis. Sure, we set the atmosphere with embattlements, ramparts and turrets and provide the bits we need for the plot, but we don’t want realism in the set; it would defeat the spirit of outdoor theatre.
MN: So what period have you gone for in this production?
Conny Loder: With the main themes in mind – religion, revenge, love—we wanted to set it into a time close to Shakespeare’s own time. So we opted for the time around Henry VIII. This period was witness to conflicts in the royal family, the Tudors, that are addressed in the play: a dubious marriage, revenge, betrayal, suicide… And apart from that, the elaborate set carries the audience back to that period as well. Not to forget the amazing costumes. It truly is a spectacle.
MN: You will open in about a week…
John Yates: … What? a week? Waa! I do so hope my lines start to stick. Oh God oh God oh God….
MN: … any other thoughts on that?
Alexandra Krienke (Hamlet): I feel very excited! It’s a very rewarding feeling to be able to finally present what we have been working on for months.
Sara Brandt (Rosencrantz): I agree. And I can’t wait to strut my velvet and furs.
How has the rehearsal process been so far?
Tai Steyn: Rehearsals are one part hilarity, one part frustration and one part plain hard work.
Clodagh Gould (Ophelia): For me it has been wonderful – I have tried yoga, running, sailing, wine, you name it; however, there is no better stress release than going gaga every week on stage and getting away with it.
Jennifer Mikulla (Queen Gertrude): Rehearsals are always fun but hard work and our director Conny does a great job of team building.
Do you have any favourite rehearsal moments?
Tai Steyn: I have a line, “Oh, I am slain!” It’s said at a dramatic moment in the play, but it’s almost impossible not to laugh.
John Yates: For me it’s the whole atmosphere – the first time in costume – carrying on in the rain – seeing everyone willing to help everyone – and last but by no means least, the cool beer afterwards.
Clodagh Gould: I am not a masochist, but probably being drowned by our director in a lake for the trailer.
Jennifer Mikulla: My favourite moment is when my fellow actors are doing such a good job that real tears come to my eyes. Then you know the magic is working.
MN: Any final words?
Veronica Cancio De Grandy: At this point, we are polishing, the groundwork has been laid out and we are just improving on our points. Only a few more rehearsals and we’re ready for our audience. It will be a great show.
Conny Loder: Yes, come and see us. If you think Shakespeare is boring, let us convince you that he is not. We have 90 minutes ready for you, packed with laughter, tears and – a jig. The rest is silence, as Hamlet would say.
About William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was first mentioned in 1592 in the pamphlet Greenes, Groats-Worth of Witte, written by Robert Greene, which described Shakespeare as an “upstart crow” who “is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.” Shakespeare was a member of the players’ company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and later the King’s Men, after James I ascended the English throne. In 1598/9 the company built a new playhouse, the Globe, on Bankside, south of the river Thames. It was rebuilt by the American Sam Wanamaker on a spot near its original site and opened for performances again in 1997.
About Entity Theatre e.V.
Entity Theatre is an international, amateur English-language theatre group located in Munich. We have members aged 18 and upwards from all corners of the world, and we welcome people with diverse backgrounds to participate in our activities and performances.
Starring Alexandra Krienke as Hamlet.
Directed by Conny Loder and Veronica Cancio De Grandy, Produced by Ken Lawler.
There’s love, betrayal, murder, fencing – and a ghost! Come and see us this summer, bring a blanket, bring a picnic and enjoy 90 minutes of Shakespeare in Westpark, Theatron.
12-15 & 19-22 July at Theatron, Westpark.
For more information, please visit our website www.entitytheatre.com