Long live the queen; Rider’s all-female “Hamlet”

By Jason Mount

One of Shakespeare’s well-known tragedies will be given a new spin with an all-female cast in Rider’s production of “Hamlet,” running from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6 in the Yvonne Theater.

Junior theater major Lauren Rejent, who plays Horatio, believes the all-female production will make this particular Shakespearian production stand out from others.

“I think the way a female tells a story definitely differs from the way a male might, especially with a show like Hamlet,” she said. “So I think you get some different angles and perspectives on such a famous show which is really cool.”

Junior theater major Victoria Robles, who plays Ophelia, also believed that the production’s defining factor is the casting: “It really brings out a different perspective and it creates a different environment for the audience.”

The casting choice also helped with the chemistry between actors, Rejent said, and helped the cast as connect better as a whole.

“There’s a bond that really comes reaching a new level of vulnerability with each other since we’re all females, and that vulnerability reflects in these male characters in a way that you don’t see too often,” Rejent explained.

Robles agreed, and said that the feminine cast has “made me feel heard and understood.”

Rejent listed off a number of memorable moments from the rehearsal process that helped the cast bond, such as taking time to prepare for rehearsal outside as the sun set in the background.

“We also went over to our director Ivan Fuller’s house to watch an episode of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ that was based on watching a badly dubbed German version of ‘Hamlet.’ That was a lot of fun,” she said.

For Robles, one of her favorite parts of the process was making Shakespeare work for a modern audience.

“What we were mostly working on was getting the show timing right,” Robles said. “Hamlet takes five hours to explain. We try to cut and condense the show to make it become two hours with intermission. It was a process, but we did it.”

The cast also experienced some challenges while taking on one of Shakespeare’s works, some more difficult than others.

“One of the challenges would be the constant giggle fits,” Rejent started as a smile grew on her face. “I know me and Victoria would always break into giggles during rehearsals and have to control ourselves.”

Of course, there were also obstacles that were no laughing matter.

Robles had difficulty with Shakespeare’s words, focusing most of her energy on memorizing her lines.

“Shakespeare tends to write a lot of soliloquies, and although I only had a few, it was still a process to memorize. I had to take all summer up until the middle of September to finally be memorized,” Robles said.

Rejent agreed that remembering lines was a difficult task. “On a more serious note, a real challenge was memorizing lines over the summer and hitting the ground running a couple days before school started,” she said. “We only had a month to put on this production so there’s been a lot of tears and sweat, but a lot of laughter too.”

Rejent was able to power through because of the comfortable rehearsal environment she was in, she said.

“It’s easy for one person to get very overwhelmed with the content of the show, but because we were always in such a safe space surrounded by people we knew had our backs, we felt comfortable to be open enough when we were struggling so that’s definitely a silver lining,” she explained.

The cast is excited to show Rider what its production has to offer, and Robles believes the audience will love it for more than just the female cast, but the mixing of elements that “Hamlet” has.

“‘Hamlet’ is definitely a different feel from the other productions done here at Rider,” Robles said. “It’s a tragedy play, but there’s a lot of lightness and comedy here and there just to get the audience more engaged. We try to involve the audience as much as we can and break the fourth wall a lot. It’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait for the responses.”

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