Feeling the excitement - Final week of Hamlet rehearsals

Gareth Nicholls, Main Stage Director in Residence and Assistant Director of Hamlet, shares his excitement with us in the final week of rehearsals for this “brooding, sleazy” play.

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It’s a week before we preview our production of Hamlet and there’s a fight taking place. Brain Ferguson (Hamlet) and Adam Best (Laertes) are tearing into each other with swords, fists and whatever else they can get their hands on. Luckily it’s just a rehearsal, with our fight director keeping a close eye on the safety of both actors. Even so, when they’re going at full speed, its pretty terrifying and will make a thrilling finale to this production.
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Surrounding them are all the items we’ve used in the play – microphones, piano carcasses, electric guitars, clothes rails and booze (lots of booze) - and this is how it will be in just over a weeks time, on the Citizens Theatre stage, everything there, for everyone to see, right from the start of the play. Oh, and there is a real skull knocking about somewhere.

Photo: messer_best via Instagram

Hopefully this gives you an indication of the physical world of this production. An overtly theatrical and fluid staging of Hamlet that strips back any notions of an opulent Royal household to create a brooding, sleazy world that acts like a pressure cooker for each and every character.

In fact this production is far less concerned with the grand politics of a Royal household and its relationship with the outside world (Fortinbras and his army) and instead places the focus firmly on the personal politics of the characters – two families torn apart, their relationships, and the different preoccupations eating each of them up.

Sound will also play a large part in the staging of this production, with the vast majority of underscoring being played live on stage by the cast helping to explore the psychology of the piece and enhance the sense of a crumbling and decrepit world.

As we finish rehearsals for the day and the swords are placed safely back into storage there’s a sense of excitement in the air. Hamlet is a wild and at times relentless play that throws innumerable challenges at actors and audiences alike - but it’s these challenges that give it its enduring appeal.  This production promises to confront these challenges head on to produce a contemporary and darkly thrilling version of Hamlet that will move and delight in equal measure.

Gareth Nicholls
Director in Residence

Hamlet previews on Fri 19 Sep and runs until Sat 11 Oct
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Gareth Nicholls, Main Stage Director in Residence, will be working jointly with the Citizens Theatre and Untitled Projects over the next two years, so expect to see more posts from him. Read about his appointment here.