“We were talking the other day about which parts of the story will resonate on a cultural level, a political level and most importantly I think the human side of things.”
In his third interview Naeem discusses what’s been happening in the final week of rehearsals, the rare opportunity to be able to watch the play you’re in, and the developing character of Hamlet.
Time: 6 minutes 35 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Phil Brooks: Welcome to the Adopt an Actor podcast series. This is the third interview with Naeem Hayat, who is playing one of the Hamlets.
So what have you been doing in rehearsals since we last spoke?
Naeem Hayat: Oh god, we’ve most recently been starting to run the show from top to end. And we’ve also been doing, putting in the music cues, working through music cues, working through scene transitions, and then just having a good go at running all the scenes in sequence really. Which has been really nice, really nice because we did a couple of days where we just worked on the transitions and music cues and stuff so its really lovely to go back to running stuff in sequence.
PB: How is it seeing the play now it’s come together as one thing?
NH: Yeah brilliant, brilliant. It’s strange, because I, I think I am probably the only person who gets to watch it as well as be in it, so when Ladi [Emeruwa] is playing Hamlet I get to watch the runs and its fascinating because, it’s just one of the things about being an actor I think, you don’t, you never see what you’re doing. But then for me it’s really wonderful because I get to see the show that I’m in but not being in it, it’s a really strange experience but wonderful.
PB: How important is music to your production? You mentioned you’d gone through a lot of music transitions and scene changes.
NH: Really important, it helps with the scene changes and there’s some at the start of the show there’s some in the interval, there’s the jig at the end. And I think it’s just part of the fabric of this show actually, because of the nature of the whole production really, it’s just a really full production. And the music supports that. Bill Barclay who’s composed the music for the show has written some amazing music. And then taught instruments to everybody, and it’s brilliant because its, the actors are playing the instruments and the actors are singing and the actors, you know. Every element that goes into the show are sort of filled by the actors.
PB: How are the jig rehearsals going? They’re always exciting.
NH: The jig rehearsals? Brilliant, I love a good jig. I love a good jig. They’re so much fun; it’s the perfect way to end a show. I’ve always found that watching shows here, it’s the perfect way no matter what the show is, it’s the perfect way to bring everybody together in that moment again. And wipe away what you’ve seen or whatever, you know no matter how heavy it is or whatever it’s a play it’s a story it’s sharing. And it’s great. It’s been really fun. I mean there are lots of permutations to the show so that means that there are permutations even in the jig. So if somebody is playing Polonius or Claudius they have a certain, they have a certain journey in the jig which fits with other characters so it’s always fun watching people slot in. and it’s a great jig. And also people are playing instruments; people are playing the music for the jig whilst dancing. So it’s mildly manic but lots of fun.
PB: How have your initial impressions of your character changed, or have they been confirmed since you started rehearsals?
NH: I think they’ve both, I think that’s sort of both of those things are true to a certain extent I think. My perceptions of Hamlet have definitely changed. But that’s been the beautiful thing about working on this production. And the beautiful thing about the play, because it’s one of those things that you think you know. I might have said it before you know, before I came into the rehearsal room I thought I knew the play, and I thought I knew Hamlet. And that’s the brilliant thing about working in a rehearsal room like this, you find out so much along the way that both confirms what you might have thought before but also flips everything that you thought before on its head. There are so many examples of that, one is the humour. I’d never before sort of really seen or realised the humour in the play…
PB: You never really think of it as funny at all…
NH: No, and when people say Hamlet you think, you have a definite perception of that. And it’s been the same with friends of mine who I’ve spoken to about doing the show, who say ‘oh god it must be, it’s Hamlet it’s long and hard and difficult and it’s really intense. And it has all those things in it but it also has wonderful humour, and he is a funny funny man. Funny witty clever sharp you man, whose brain – it’s his brain that takes him to those places. It’s the fact that he has such a sharp, receptive, perceptive mind that has in it ‘To be, or not to be’, but also ‘What a piece of work is a man’. And also, the wit he shares, the games he plays with Polonius, which is just sort of mildly childish fun, along with this sort of real awareness of the world, which he gains by going on the journey. That’s a beautiful thing about [the play] – the play has so much in it. I don’t know when that will stop and I don’t think it ever does. And that’s the brilliant thing about being in this play, is that you have a text, you have story that is so deep and rich, that I think those discoveries will keep happening.
PB: Especially in front of so many different audiences around the world.
NH: Exactly. And we were talking about this the other day, about how which parts of the story will resonate in different parts of the world – both on sort of a cultural level, a political level. And most importantly, I think probably, on a human side of things - if people just see it as a human story, and that’s a really humbling and inspiring thing to be part of. To be able to say that you’re part of that – it’s very humbling. Also, petrifying.
PB: But exciting.
NH: Exciting – yeah. It’s a weird mixture of being absolutely petrified and the most exciting journey ever. Me and Ladi were talking about this – about just having to embrace it as you go along. There’s no amount of preparing in a way. You can prepare, you do the work you do on any other play that we’ve done, and then you just sort of have to embrace the journey as it goes, I think. It’s incredibly exciting.
PB: Brilliant. Thank you very much.
NH: Thank you.