Assistant Director Maura Krause
HAMLET is not one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. In fact, it doesn’t even rate in the top ten. Although I’ve marveled at the beauty of the language many times, to me the play had always seemed to be about the navel-gazing journey of a bratty prince with self-confidence issues and problems with women. Just not my cup of tea, you know?
Then, at one of our first rehearsals for HAMLET out at the Hedgerow Theatre, Dan Hodge called Hamlet “a sane man in a crazy world.” That phrase, evidence of Dan’s compassion for each and every character, began a transformation in the way that I see HAMLET. Slowly, the people in the world of the play appeared to me as genuine humans, products of their circumstances and governed by their repressed emotions. Guided both by Dan and the investment of our amazing actors,
Hamlet’s story ended up being about relationships: some that were falling apart, others that were growing, and two or three that managed to stay poignant and constant in the face of death or revenge. By previews, I could watch the show over and over again and find a new nugget of truth every time.
And thank goodness, because assistant directing necessitates a watchful eye. It needs to be a mixture of channeling the director’s vision for the show and expressing your own artistic voice. Too much of the former, and it’s hard to actually learn anything – or be personally satisfied with the work. Too much of the latter, and you’re a distraction to the work that needs to happen.
Dan’s clean and meaningful take on this classic made it easy to find that balance, to find HAMLET wending its way into the fibers of my thoughts. I’d be biking home and hear “the readiness is all” in the back of my head, or get a glimpse of my favorite image in the show (no spoilers, but keep an eye on Ophelia.) I’d think completely voluntarily about how Dan’s choice to cast Horatio as a woman added a much-needed layer to the tone of the play, or sign an email “thine evermore, most dear friend.”
I did almost nothing but Shakespeare in college. I found meaning and delight in many of the Bard’s plays on my own, and I was even in a production of Hamlet that I was quite fond of; but it took my time with Dan to see how a generous and methodical approach could – to use a Dan Hodge phrase – really pay dividends, and as a result I think I can safely say I do love HAMLET, in the great scheme of things.
Even though it’s still not my favorite Shakespeare play.
*Maura is the Assitant Director for Hamlet and is in her second year as the National New Play Network Producer-in-Residence at InterAct Theatre Company, where she is committed to making new play development more accessible to audiences. In the past few years, Maura has worked with multiple organizations on the East Coast, including the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, the Source Festival DC, EMP Collective, Walking Fish Theatre, and Wanderlust Collective. Recent credits include creating and performing in Foxwife City’s SALOME SALOME, assistant directing the Applied Mechanics show WE ARE BANDITS, producing the inaugural Philadelphia New Play Initiative Local Playwrights Sho.