“To thine own self be true…” is one of my favorite lines in Shakespeare. On the surface it is so simple, however when you dig deeper at the meaning of this simple phrase the complexities and levels begin to form. This is why I love to perform and study Shakespeare. His words may be constructed in way that is foreign to the modern ear, yet the meaning and emotion transcends time.
Hi, my name is Heather Folkvord and I am playing Gertrude in PCSC’s production of Hamlet! I have had such a great time during the rehearsal period and now performances of Hamlet.
My feelings of the character I play often change from rehearsal to performance. I think of my character as a “jacket” or “coat” that I put on and take off. In the beginning it is just a pencil sketch…very simple…a general shape (text analysis). Second I add color to the sketch and then choose fabric for my “coat”. This step often takes a little longer because type of fabric, color, weight, feel makes a huge difference to character (emotion, mood, first impressions). Third I “stitch” my character coat together weaving thoughts, emotion, voice intonation etc. During this time, my “coat” doesn’t always fit. It may be tight in some places or I don’t like where I place a pocket or seam and have to make adjustments. I borrow something from another coat I’ve worn. Next I add embellishments to my coat…a brooch or trim, maybe some special stitching (back story, core beliefs, main motivations). I try it on and it feels pretty good, fits fairly comfortably. Then I perform in this coat I have created in the last 5-6 weeks, and under the lights with the other characters and the eye of audience scrutiny it fairs well. But during a scene all of a sudden my coat sleeve feels tight or I can’t breathe with the buttons buttoned, so back to my sewing room for more adjustments and additions (or subtractions). This process continues through the entire performance period. So the coat I started with on opening night is not quite the same on closing night. I am always filled with a bittersweet feeling when I remove my character coat on closing night. But as I hang it in the closet with all of my other coats I know that someday I just might need that pretty Gertrude brooch to complete my next coat.
I hope you all will come and see Hamlet. It really is a wonderful play and for a tragedy it really is funny. It has transcended the ages and I find it hard not to think of all the generations of actors and audiences that have explored the world of Hamlet and all who have yet to start their journey. See you in Denmark!