How does it feel to be working with the STC?
As Shakespeare himself would’ve said: amazetastic. What a place! What a company! What an acronym! Wharf 1 is an incredible venue, we were expecting it to smell like fish but it doesn’t hardly at all. Plus, there is so much cool stuff backstage, the place is packed with all these amazing objects that the STC props department have made for all these marvellous theatre shows over the years. It’s a cornucopia of stuff, it looks like an op shop got overly fertilized somehow and grew out of control whilst the old ladies that run it were on holiday and now it’s threatening to take over the world… or something. There's, like, huge rows of dummies and a banquet of fake cakes, a jungle of plastic trees, an armoury of swords, boxes of skulls and even a coffin. It’s perfect to play around and make a fun show but we definitely do not want to get accidentally locked in there at night. That would be totes scary.
How will this differ to your previous shows? How will it be the same?
We're very excited to be working with director and all-round theatre genius Declan Greene. He knows about this thing called ‘story’ where things have a beginning, middle and an end. When they happen on stages in front of people they are called ‘plays’. So, it’s good to have an expert like him around.
Also, we have never worked with a designer before, Renée Mulder has great ideas and is so fun to work with. She has mentioned recently that there is an ‘endless vomit machine’ somewhere in amongst all the props, so obviously she has a similar sense of humour to us. There are other surprises about very exciting stuff that feature in the show that are totally brand new but which are all massively embargoed with 10-foot-high spoiler alert warnings.
Why is Shakespeare still relevant?
We have 3 answers to this question:
- When we were watching BBC’s Meerkat Manor in 2008, Shakespeare was the most vocal meerkat on that show. He was clever and charming. It’s a real shame that he didn’t get his own spin off show.
- We don’t know about Shakespeare's relevance but we do know a bit about Shakespeare’s relatives, his sister was a really big pop star in the 80s for example.
- People say that Shakespeare is relevant because of universal themes, soaring poetry, a mastery of language, and that his plays are filled with relatable characters with moral dilemmas that reach across the ages from Elizabethan England to now. People say that via Hamlet he created the first truly modern subject in literature with its attendant interiority and existential uncertainty. People say that, but we say that we love that he invented the words zany, bedazzled, leaky and eyeball, that there’s fart jokes in Othello and King Lear, and that someone gets called a puppy-headed monster in the Tempest and one of the characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is called Bottom. He was an entertainer that guy, and we can relate to that.
It’s a good question, in fact we ask him that all the time: "Why Hamlet, why? Why don’t you just believe the ghost and get revenge straight away? Or, if you don’t believe the ghost, why don’t you just call ghostbusters? If you think he offed your dad why don’t you just call the cops on your uncle and get all CSI Elsinore on him? Why are you so mean to Ophelia? Why do you go around stabbing curtains? Why do you chat to yourself all the time? Why don’t we see the pirates bit?"
Unlike the previous "Why Hamlet?" question, this one has never occurred to us. But thinking about it, we figured that not everyone is a Danish Prince who has been visited by a ghost who tells him that his uncle killed his father and married his mum, and so decides to feign madness, be mean to his girlf and question existence before causing the deaths of everyone he knows... but everyone probably has had a skidmark. So, we thought it was a good idea to put in something that everyone could relate too.
Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark, 8 Nov – 10 Dec 2016, Roslyn Packer Theatre
Seeing the show? Let us know your thoughts. Tag @sydneytheatreco and #STCHamlet
Photos by James Green