Hello! My name is Kyle Walker and I am playing Laertes and the Third Player in Hamlet. This is my first production with the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and it has been a fun, interesting and new experience. It has challenged me in new ways and stretched my talents to their full potential.
Playing Laertes has been an extremely fun role for me. It is a role full of joy, sadness, anger, regret, and passion. Exploring these kinds of emotions is always fun on stage. However, one of the greatest parts of Laertes, for me, is the stage sword fighting I get to do. I recently graduated from Grand Valley State University in December of 2009 and in my time there, I performed in many shows that ranged from Shakespeare to musicals. But in all of my time there I never once had the chance to experience stage combat. It was an aspect of my college education that I regretted. But as Laertes, sword fighting is an integral part of his character. Laertes is a short-tempered, head-strong, and impressionable person. What better person to wield a sword? I was excited to finally try my hand at stage combat.
My work with the fight choreographer, Steven Schwall, has been a quite the learning experience. Going into the fight rehearsals I already had an objective in mind: I wanted to gain a basic knowledge of stage sword combat. One of the first basics that we learned in our rehearsals was how to stand. In sword play it is important to have a strong, steady stance: knees bent, legs apart and at a 45 degree angle. This gives the player a strong hold on the ground so that he/she is in complete control of their body. This concept is what has guided my stage combat experience. Control is everything when you sword fight on stage. It keeps the players in synch, keeps the actors safe, and makes the swordfight convincing. This established a very useful fundamental for stage combat and even for acting. Control of the body leads to control of the scene that you are playing.
The next aspect of the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company that I want to discuss in my blog is the music. I have been playing the trombone since 5th grade and have always loved playing it. But in recent years, since I began to focus more on acting, I began to lose touch with my trombone. I was extremely excited to learn that I would be playing my trombone in Hamlet. I have always kind of hoped that one day I would be able to bring my skills with the trombone to the theatre. Sadly, I had never heard of a play where the actor is supposed to play a trombone. So when they asked me to play my trombone in Hamlet I was very excited to finally have the chance to connect my two favorite arts: theatre and music.
At first I felt a little rusty and had to get used to blowing on the old horn again. But just like riding a bicycle, it all seemed to come back to me as if it had never left. Being able to play my trombone in this show has been fun but it has also made me realize something about the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company. As an original practice Shakespeare Company, they play a lot. They play with words, sounds, movement, emotions, meanings, costumes, props, and audiences. But they also play to each other’s strengths. When you are cast in a role, you don’t only learn your lines and play a character, you reach inside yourself for something more. Something you can give to the cast, to the audience, or even to yourself. And for me, the only thing I ask in return is a stage to make a character come to life.
Well, that about does it for me. I hope you’ve learned something about the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and maybe even something about me. If you want to know anything else about me… (WARNING: shameless self-promotion coming up)… you will just have to come see me in Hamlet performing at Dog Story Theater: April 15-25, Beardsley Theater: April 28, and Christ Community Church: May 13-16. Thank you for reading!