Professional drama class performs fall show, “Hamlet”

Seniors Alonzo Cannon and Grace Putman act in Hamlet, the fall play put on by the GBHS theater program.

Special to HOLMES

Seniors Alonzo Cannon and Grace Putman act in “Hamlet,” the fall play put on by the GBHS theater program.

   The Granite Bay High School Theatre production company has spent hours of behind-the-scenes work in preparation for their fall show— Hamlet— and now, the big question is whether to see or not to see the play.

GBHS put their own spin on Shakespeare’s play by having most of the male roles played by female students, and vise versa.

   The story follows the internal and external conflicts faced by young Hamlet after her father was murdered by her Uncle Claudius. She is tasked with avenging her father’s death, and in doing so, Hamlet must weigh her decisions in regards to whether it is morally right to take away someone else’s life. 

   “I have always had Hamlet on my list of plays that I wanted to do, (because) I think it’s an amazing story… that really captivates people,” said Kyle Holmes, the head director and drama teacher at GBHS. “It was kind of just waiting for the right cast of people to make it happen, and I think we have that group this year.”

   The GBHS rendition of Hamlet is atypical to the original Shakespearean transcript, however much of it was preserved. For example, Hamlet, who is traditionally the role of a male, is played by junior, Maya Seagraves.

   “I was hesitant to even consider auditioning for the role of Hamlet, for the same reason I was captivated by her,” Seagraves said. “I was fascinated by, not only the external conflict Hamlet faces, but by her internal conflicts as well — her prison of mind.”

   The cast has put in hours of work rehearsing and set-designing in order to make the show possible. 

   “(The behind-the-scenes work for the play included) hundreds of hours of rehearsals, lighting design, set building, costuming, props, business and marketing, and projection work,” Holmes said. “Our set team and our multimedia team have done a great job with it all.”

   Junior Jayden Smith, who plays Marcellus in the production, agrees that it took a lot of hard-work in order to make the show performance ready. 

   “We just ran through (the play) so many times to the point where we felt right and got into the groove of the show,” Smith said. “Hamlet (played by Seagraves) and Claudius (played by senior, Jack Dugoni) just really got to feel and know their character (to the point) that when they would say their lines, they understood what Shakespeare (truly meant).”

  However, before anything could be officially put together in harmony, it was important for the cast to encompass the distinct personalities and behaviors of their character. In order to do so, the cast had to overcome certain challenges.

   “The main challenge I had to overcome was self doubt,” Seagraves said. “I really struggled to believe that I could portray all the emotional complexities of such a well known character, but with the help of my directors and the support of the whole cast, we have created an amazing show.”

   The first showing of the play was debuted on October 31, and although there was a small crowd due to it being Halloween, Holmes believes that it was a great first show for the cast.

   “Opening night is so fun because it is one of the first times you’re really in front of people,” Holmes said. “It was a smaller crowd because it was Halloween, but it kind of worked out perfectly because it was a great opportunity for (the cast) to really get a feel for how their work was going to resonate with people.”

   Seagraves agrees that performing for an audience has a significantly greater effect than when simply running through the show at rehearsals.

   “It’s amazing how much the audience adds to the performance,” Seagraves said. “We really respond to their energy, (and) I loved… finding little moments to connect with the audience.”

   The play also featured a unique audience arrangement in the black box theatre, where the audience was close enough to interact with and analyze the characters.

   “We have kind of reconfigured where the audience sits to create a black box stage, where the audience sits (about) three-quarters of the way around the stage,” Holmes said. “Hamlet is such an internal show. There are so many soliloquies where Hamlet is speaking out loud trying to figure out what to do, and we really wanted the audience to be a part of that.”

   Taking on such a complex play is not an easy thing to do, but Holmes is extremely proud of the work the cast accomplished. The last showing of the play is on November 9, at 7:00 p.m. in the GBHS theater. 

   “Whether you are doing a middle school, 30 minute version of Hamlet, or you are doing it professionally in high school, I think taking on such a complex and complicated text is amazingly difficult,” Holmes said. “This cast and crew have been incredibly creative, and they have approached all of the problems that this show lays out with patience and maturity. They have just done a really beautiful job creating a very complex piece that I think is going to resonate with our community.”