Performing Hamlet | Teen Ink

Performing Hamlet

June 7, 2009
By Russell Trenary BRONZE, Oak Park, Illinois
Russell Trenary BRONZE, Oak Park, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Performing Hamlet

As my scene ended and I returned to my seat I felt relief and a sense of accomplishment but also twinges of disappointment. After over three weeks of practice the task had been completed in less than 5 minutes. To prepare for something for that length of time and have the final performance take such a short amount of time usually leaves me with regret in what I could have done differently. In this situation I recognized that my acting could have been improved upon in a variety of ways. Emotion should always be practiced with ones lines. I practiced my lines without emotion and later tried to add them. This approach was unsuccessful. Also, being the character, or trying as hard as possible to be the character, is very important. Simply acting into your idea of what the character is like, does lead to a successful performance. This is not to say that I didn’t work hard on this acting project, or that I didn’t do well on certain parts. I believe that I did put in effort and time, however, instead of just working hard on it, I should have worked smart on it.
By this I mean that I didn’t focus on all the parts of my performance equally. My work was directed at lines and blocking more than emotion, and this was obvious in my performance. My emotions in the play although visible were not where they could have been. They were too well practiced and when I began the play I was acting completely as I had planned to act, with pre-recorded emotion. Now that my acting is over and I have seen how other students did their scenes, I know that acting is not replaying a practiced set of movements, expressions and dialogue but rather acting is putting myself in a specific situation and responding to the theoretical circumstances.
In my first scene I knew how to act intimidated by the King as Rosen-stern. However, I should have instead made myself be Rosen-stern and be intimidated. Then I would have been able to portray intimidation realistically. And later, when I played Hamlet, I thought at the time that I did my best to portray the emotions of someone debating whether to kill someone. Of course, it would not be possible for me to relate to my own experiences during this, however, I now know that to better prepare myself for this scene I should have related my own experiences of hesitation, uncertainty and self-discipline to Hamlet. Once Hamlet learns of his uncle’s treachery he seems to take every possible moment to mull over ideas of revenge. I know slightly what this is like and I should have used every experience to a greater extent.
But as I recognize my acting faults I must recognize my achievements also. Like I have said previously, I put in a lot of effort to practice. While this may have been partly to blame for my stiff performance, it is an indication of my own diligence and regard for the subject. After my Othello performance I vowed to work harder for my next performance. I think to a certain degree I did that. Also, although my acting skills were not as good as they could have been, I think that I did try to follow specific acting exercises when preparing for my scene. The “What?” exercise, where a certain line is repeated for a number of times, was one of my favorites in that it really brought my words out of mundane speaking patterns. I also practiced my blocking a significant amount and I believe that that was a stronger point in my scene. I thought I did a decent job of turning from the audience towards the king and back towards the audience at different parts during my scene. Overall, I think that I have improved my acting ability since last performance and that I was able to better understand what acting is and how to go about it. I utilized the information given and I tried to work on all parts of the performance, although I undoubtedly left some parts out. I am now considering the challenge of taking a Shakespeare course since I enjoyed the challenge of acting and I feel like I have a lot of potential talent that needs to be practiced a lot on. On the whole, it was a fun experience, where I learned a lot about acting, Shakespeare and even philosophy, but it was an experience would be made a lot better if I had the chance to improve.

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