Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Introducing Amanda Hadingue as Gertrude

Introduction to Amanda Hadingue as Gertrude - In this introductory interview Amanda tell me how she is no stranger to the play Hamlet and the role of Gertude. She also talks about the challenges of a touring company, including the strain of juggling several characters, whilst playing in the band.

Audio placeholder

Time: 9 minutes, 53 seconds

Download (9.1MB, mp3 format)
To download, right click on the link and select 'Save link as'.

Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

My first question is what was your experience of Shakespeare at school?

Amanda Hadingue:

That’s a very good question actually. I mean to remember school I have to I have to think back quite a long way and I remember doing Romeo and Juliet at O-Level and quite enjoying it. But I think when I was at A-Level studying, and I was able to perhaps understand more from the language and not just the stories - The stories are good, but once that extra layer sort is opened up to you then I started to enjoy it much more then. When I was a bit younger, when I was sort of 14 or 15, you think, “Oh come on, give us a nice novel, a contemporary novel to read.” So it didn’t really register with me until I was a bit older I think.

HB:

So when did you get into acting?

AH:

At sixth form college. I left school and went to sixth form college to study music really, that was kind of what I thought I was going to do, although looking back I clearly didn’t work hard enough to do that. I was never going to work hard enough to be a violinist, which I thought I was going to be, because they have to practise so much. And I got involved with drama, just as a sort of recreational thing, on a Wednesday afternoon and I suddenly realised, “Oh, I am actually quite prepared to work very hard on this.” So it sort of crept in there. Although, funnily enough, I am playing the violin in Hamlet here, so I kept it up. But I finally found a way of being a musician I like because it’s part of what I do in theatre sometimes, really only because sometimes now shows give you the opportunity to use it. When I’m not playing it in a show I’m afraid it’s collecting dust in a corner.

HB:

So on to the play, what were your initial impressions of Hamlet coming into rehearsal?

AH:

I’d sort of encountered it a little bit before, Hamlet. I’d been involved in a couple of productions, but I wouldn’t say that made me feel that I know it. It’s hard to come in and not be terrified of it I think. It has such a history and weight and baggage. But very quickly, when you’re doing that first read through, there are always things that surprise you, in that group of actors that you’ve got. In the way they read it, the way Josh Mcguire, who’s playing our Hamlet, his take on it, Dominic’s [Dromgoole, director] take on it. And very quickly it turns out not the play you thought it was, really quickly. And when that starts to happen then you lose your fear because you’re dealing with something fresh then, rather than something you’ve been reading since school and people telling you, “this is the most important play or whatever.”

HB:

Who were you in previous Hamlet’s? Who have you played?

AH:

Well curiously, Gertrude, which is the role I’m playing now. I played it when I was 22 or something. I must have been terrible. I look back on it and I think that must have been dreadful. I can’t remember, it was a good production, but I must have been dreadful in it. And I’ve played it a little bit with ‘The Factory’, who’s collective who work in London. And in “The Factory” you learn several parts in the play and then the audience kind of pick who will play what.

HB:

I am yet to see it, it just sounds amazing...

AH:

...It’s pretty terrifying! So I learnt Gertrude as one of my parts, and some others, and actually I was very rarely drawn by the audience, in the kind of like game you play at the beginning, to play Gertrude. So I’ve known it, but very rarely had to play it.

HB:

And what are your initial impressions of her then?

AH:

Of her? Well they’re changing with this version I think. I suppose that’s why I keep coming back to those plays isn’t it, that’s what I mean about them never being what you expect. And I think I’m finding it harder to forgive her actually, at the moment, whilst still feeling a lot of sympathy for the situation she’s in. Previously I just really wanted to let Gertrude off the hook and say she probably had no choice but to marry Claudius, she probably saw the situation as a bit of a power vacuum, something she had to step into and then found herself in love or whatever. We’ve talked through it in this production and the way certainly Dominic was doing, was that, “No. There is a love here between Gertrude and Claudius and that is probably there before King Hamlet dies.” And that’s very crucial I suppose in trying to pin down her motives. It’s one of those kind of situations where I think, “Well, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing”, because love is like that. The consequences of her accepting Claudius and marrying him are so cataclysmic, in a way that she couldn’t have guessed really. It’s harder to let her off the hook than I thought it might be, so it’s kind of taking that on board at the same time as, you know, you have to have some sympathy for your own character and find that in her.

HB:

I think Gertrude is a particular character where you kind of have to think of a back story for her.

AH:

I think so. Yeah, yeah, because she’s a curious presence really. She’s there a lot. She’s often not a character that people can sort of remember the arc of in a way maybe and yet she’s right in the middle of the matter that kicks the whole play off. You could say that if Claudius hadn’t killed King Hamlet nothing would have happened, but also if Gertrude hadn’t then married Claudius then maybe nothing would have happened. So she’s right there in the heart of it and yet she can feel almost peripheral or something to the main event. So I think yes, you are absolutely right, you have to make these kinds of decisions. There’s a strength and power in her that I perhaps hadn’t thought about as much before. There’s a kind of strong will, and there is stoicism, and there is power. I’ve done some Shakespeare, but not loads and loads, and it’s very interesting being the women in the company because there usually aren’t very many of you, that gives you a certain kind of presence with the audience. I always think as an actor it’s a great shame that it’s so much harder for women to get involved in Shakespeare because there are fewer parts, but actually when you are there and you’re present - I in the audience really love it when the women come on because it’s such a change from the men that they’ve been seeing. So you actually have a lovely relationship with the audience very often, this different sort of texture. In this, there’s a very contrasting presence in Ophelia and Gertrude and yet there is a point where somehow their fates mesh. And is what happens to Ophelia possibly what propels Gertrude into the final acts? And the final acts I think are very coloured by what’s happened to Ophelia.

HB:

She has that lovely speech doesn’t she about Ophelia hearing about her death...

AH:

...Describing her death, yeah...

HB:

...I think maybe that’s a turning point for her, you do feel for her then. Did you at that point?

AH:

Yes, yes, I do. I mean I’ve thought that sometimes and I think that I’m sort of keeping that a bit in what I’m playing it. There’s a kind of rapture in the way Gertrude’s describing that death that’s almost as if it’s something she envies, or desires, or just seems like a wonderful way out at that point, which is both very tender to Ophelia, but also tells you something about her and where she is at that point. And something very interesting that Dominic said there about when Gertrude comes in and announces Ophelia’s death, it’s extremely abrupt almost. She just says, “Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes” [iv. Vii], very quickly. As an actor that’s quite hard to deal with almost, when you’re coming in to announce something massive, that it just goes, “bla, bla, bla”, and it’s out. And Dominic was pointing out that actually when people speak very plainly in that way in Shakespeare, it’s often because he’s attributing a sort of, looking favourably on that character at that point. The plain speakers. And it is probably a point where you finally see Gertude, if you haven’t up to that point, in a good light.

HB:

Yes that’s really nice. So I just want to talk a little bit about the touring aspect of the play. So how do you think your Hamlet has been adapted for touring? Obviously cast size.

AH:

Yeah, this week is just crazy, has been for the last week to 10 days, because you are just realising how much we’ve all got to do. There are only 8 of us, we’re providing the music as well as playing several characters...

HB:

...Oh, so it’s not just you on the violin then?

AH:

No there’s a band that’s made up of most of the cast who contribute to this band. For example, today we’re trying to work out a jig at the end of the show, very much a Globe thing, that’s what you do. And everyone normally joins in with that jig How do you do that when we are also supposed to be playing the musical instruments as well? That’s kind of where we are, but when it comes together, and the mist clears for us all, and you can actually just relax into what you’re doing, I think it’s going to give it a fantastic energy. A really brilliant energy. And it’s not a melancholic version of the play, it’s fast and quick-witted. Hamlet himself is fast and quick-witted and that’s how Josh plays him. The whole play is trying to live up to that energy and actually having to do so much is really feeding that.

HB:

And because it’s shorter as well, so it’s snappier than normal.

AH:

Yeah, it’s shorter. Dominic has kept in sort of crucial plot points I suppose, or the full story he’s kept in. So Fortinbras is there and Reynaldo is there, they all appear these people. I think it’s cleverly cut to keep all that in, so to keep the kind of full richness of the narrative, but to give it kind of pace.

HB:

Because you lose the politics without Fortinbras.

AH:

Absolutely, yes that’s quite right.

HB:

On to Margate...

AH:

...There’s another company there at the moment, some people have got friends in, but those friends have reported back that the theatre’s really beautiful. I think nearly all the theatres we’re going to are beautiful theatres, unusual theatres, the Georgian theatre in Richmond, you know these kinds of places. And then the outdoor spaces sound quite magical too, the Minack and the gardens that we’re playing in Malta. And then of course the fortresses, finishing up in Elsinore. So all of the places that we’re going to, the theatres, they’ll be very different to deal with which will be very interesting, including this one of course. They seem to be quite unique spaces that we’re going to, so an adventure.

Back to top

ADD YOUR THOUGHTS TO THE CONVERSation

We welcome your opinions. This is a public forum. Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our Forum Rules.