Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Slings & Arrows

Thanks to my buddy Greg, recommender of good things, I recently had the great pleasure of watching the first season of Slings & Arrows, a Canadian mini-series set in a provincial theatre company beset by more dramas than they ever bargained for.

In season one, the company is attempting to mount their flagship production, Hamlet. Prominent among their many problems is the grudging return of Geoffrey Tennant (the absolutely enormous spunk pictured here), an actor who lost his mind while playing the Dane seven years earlier. He's back to fill the position of artistic director, not to play Hamlet, but in real life he is the truest of Hamlets, antic disposition and all.

Although he's not actually performing the role, his character was the best Hamlet I've ever seen. He was precisely my idea of what Hamlet should be like, with just the right mix of ballsy-ness and sensitive melancholy. Oh, and he's a big hottie. I mentioned that, right?

Anyway, as well as being a rollicking good show to watch, and hilarious in parts, I found it very instructive. It's been said a million times that Hamlet is a role that can never be exhausted and whose mysteries will never be fully plucked out. So I gobbled up this take on the character, and learned a lot from it.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way the show looked at the enormity of the role, how daunting it can be for an actor, and how attempting to encompass it can drive a person mad. This certainly resonated with me yesterday. Of course I'm playing all the characters' roles on paper as well as directing and bloody well drawing the thing, but without a doubt the hardest part is "playing" Hamlet. The other characters fairly leap from my brush, but I really have to sweat to get Hamlet's expressions, posture and timing right. Having laboured over his first appearance and dialogue with King and Queen for two consecutive days of 12-hour desk marathons, by the end of day two I was feeling pretty wild-eyed and crazy, let me tell you. Fortunately, though, I went easier on myself today and spent the day reviewing and redoing some of that work, to good effect.

All good fun. Whoever said we scribblers were obsessive, eh?

1 comment:

spacedlaw said...

Of course we are. Otherwise we would be scribblers...