Women of Hamlet: Never Stop Learning 

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Blog by
Colleen Marker, Hedgerow Theatre Company Member

Here at Hedgerow, the Fellows who make up the majority of the Resident Company, often wear many hats. Throughout our time here we are given the opportunity to experience theatre in all its forms. We work box office, park the cars, teach on-site at the Hedgerow Theatre School, teach for our outreach programs in the city of Chester, as well as act in our Educational touring shows, and when the opportunity presents itself, on the main stage. In our two or so years here, the Fellows gain a plethora of hands-on experience in our field that would otherwise take us many more years to accomplish. I have been a Fellow with Hedgerow for only one year, and already I have numerous experiences under my belt from stage managing a farce, to running the box office, and now I get to add this wonderful show to my resume!

Classical theatre, and especially Shakespeare, has always been something I have been drawn to as an actor. There was always so much depth and so many layers to any given play, so many meanings hidden in the poetry, that It always felt that no matter how many times I read one of Shakespeare’s plays, or discussed them in a class or with fellow actors, or I performed monologues or scenes that I never stopped discovering, there was always something new to discover about a character or a plot, and fresh eyes always seemed to help to discover a new way to look at these stories who have stood the test of time. 

Hamlet, while not my favorite Shakespearean tragedy, has always been of great interest to me. Every time I read it, it seems to ask as many questions as it answers: does Gertrude know and was she involved in the plot to kill her husband? Is Hamlet truly insane? Does he ever tell Ophelia anything about his father’s ghost? Is the Ghost truly old King Hamlet or is he a devil? Questions that are still fresh in my mind as a newly graduated actor, and I was so interested to see what our theater’s production would choose to play, especially with the bit of gender-bending director Dan Hodge did with casting Jennifer Summerfield as Horatio.

I came into the process of rehearsing Hamlet with eyes wide open, and ready to learn. I am the youngest person in the cast currently, and given that my part was small, I felt that any opportunity I could take to observe and learn from the immense talent that surrounded me, I should take. Young actors are often told that “You never stop learning.” Every role, production, director, and company of actors you work with are an chance to learn something. Something about the play, about the characters, and especially about yourself as an actor. 

More than anything else, Hamlet has been the greatest learning experience I have ever had. While I was at college, I studied acting from books and scene work, and all those different technique exercises that your teachers encourage you to learn and use but only in rehearsal. As my acting teacher Trent would often say, “You NEVER take your technique onstage with you.” I understood at the time what he was saying, but I do not think it was until very recently in this experience that I really got what he was trying to tell us. 

As a young actor, I was so blessed in this opportunity, working with Dan, and such a wonderfully supportive and talented group of actors. Dan in particular came in with such a clear vision that all of those questions that always arise during my readings did not even seem like options anymore. The entire cast, as well as the wonderful assistant director Maura Krause only added to our sure footing by adding even more to the table and building up such a strong story for us to tell every night. 

Here at Hedgerow, the Fellows are given the chance to use the skills we learned in college in a practical setting. In playing alongside Philadelphia actors, we get to finally put into motion all the textual and technique taught us and then throw it away.  I have been very fortunate in the last 9 or so weeks, from rehearsing to performing, I learned in leaps and bounds both from watching and doing. 

As we enter our last weekend of performances, I still think Hamlet is a play with a lot of questions, but I also think Hedgerow Theatre and Dan Hodge’s adaptation of Hamlet has a lot of answers that you do not want to miss! 

COLLEEN MARKER 
(Player Queen) is a recent graduate of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, and is a Resident Company member and Hedgerow Acting Fellow. She is very excited to be back onstage in Hamlet. Colleen was last seen on the Hedgerow mainstage in Sense and Sensibility, as well as having performed in Theatre for Kids shows,  Storytime! Pinocchio, Storytime! Peter Pan and the upcomingStorytime! Cinderella. Other favorite credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Delaware Shakespeare Festival), The Crucible (Rider University). Colleen would like to thank Dan, Jared and Penn for this wonderful opportunity, the cast and crew for a great experience, and as always special thanks and love to Mom, Dad and family for their constant support and to Joel for being so wonderful