Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Introducing Jade Anouka as Ophelia

Introduction to Jade Anouka as Ophelia - In this introductory interview Jade tells me about her negative experience of Shakepeare at school, but since watching a play at the Globe, she has now come to love it. Jade also talks about her character Ophelia and her apprehension about playing the problamatic 'mad scenes'.

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Time: 7 minutes, 15 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

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

Jade Anouka:

We didn’t really do much Shakespeare at school actually. I remember watching Romeo and Juliet, Baz Lurman, took us about three English classes and although we enjoyed it, we kind of didn’t get the story really, it was split up in three. We read a bit of Shakespeare as well, but I didn’t really get it, I didn’t really like it, it was a bit boring. I didn’t really like reading, because we would normally read out like a line each around the class and it didn’t make any sense. It was not a great start to Shakespeare and a lot of people I think are trying to improve how Shakespeare’s taught in schools. It’s all about getting it up on its feet I think and I don’t know if it’s time or whatever, but you do it in English, often not drama. I mean I did, I first met Shakespeare in an English class and yeah it was just boring, it was just being read sat down, you know and you just need to be up on you feet and trying it out. You don’t really know the story, you don’t really get what’s good about Shakespeare.

HB:

Exactly, so how did you first get into acting?

JA:

I mean I’ve always liked it. When I was younger, when I was in primary school, we had a year six play and I was desperate to do it. You had to put your names down under ‘speaking part’, ‘non-speaking part’. All my friends were going, “we’re going to put speaking part, we’re going to put not the biggest part because we’re haven’t got time to learn the lines.” And so I just stupidly followed them and put my name down and they all got speaking parts and I didn’t get a speaking part. And I just remember sitting in the back – I didn’t even get an acting part, I got part of the chorus to sing. And I remember sitting there thinking, “gosh, I wish I was on the stage doing the play instead of singing on the side.” And so after that I just started joining schools, Saturday schools and stuff, and just getting involved in as much as possible.

HB:

What was your first experience of acting Shakespeare?

JA:

My first ever Shakespeare play that I did, professionally – I did a scene or two at drama school, but even then we didn’t do a whole play at drama school...

HB:

...And how did you feel about it then?

JA:

Because by then I really wanted to do it because – I actually saw Titus Andronicus at the Globe and that was kind of my first memory of watching a Shakespeare play. Titus Andronicus a ‘midnight matinee’ and I was like, “this is so cool, it’s like so gory.” And so I really wanted to do a play in our third year, a Shakespeare play, but they didn’t offer it so I was pretty disappointed. But I was very lucky when I graduated that the year after I graduated I got to be in a Shakespeare play.

HB:

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

JA:

I just remember thinking, “Gosh! It’s one of the really popular ones.”

HB:

It’s the most written about [Shakespeare] play.

JA:

Is it? And there’s so many performances of it, I mean I’ve seen maybe three in the last year or maybe two years, in London. What are we going to do with it? I’ve never read Hamlet. I’ve seen different plays so I’ve seen different interpretations of it. And so it was nice to go back and read it out and to read Ophelia out because I remember looking at Ophelia’s part on stage and thinking, “Oh God, it feels really underwritten.” Like so much that happens happens before you know. Her relationship with Hamlet happens before. Because obviously when you then read the play that you’re going to be in, you kind of read it from your character’s point of view and so I remember thinking, “gosh, how do we get across Ophelia’s and Hamlet’s relationship before, during the course of one scene that they’ve got together.”

HB:

Did you then come up with a back story for the two of you?

JA:

I was cast quite late and so actually I didn’t kind of get chance to get into back story, to think about character, I just read the play. I thought, “let me just remind myself what the actual play is”, because you can watch a production and you don’t realise that they miss bits out. So I wanted to just read the whole play and see what Shakespeare actually wrote. And read that and then I just came in and see what happens in rehearsal I guess. Rehearsals, in my mind, rehearsal is what that’s for.

HB:

So has your opinion changed of Ophelia from first reading it to now?

JA:

Yeah, definitely. I always thought that she was really unintelligent. I think she is intelligent and understanding why she does what she does in a way. Her ‘mad scenes’ that she has and it’s so easy in a way to just paint mad, you know there’s the saying method in her madness. Why does she come in and sing? Why does she do that and trying to work out what that was.

HB:

So I guess your year six chorus part is helping with the singing then? It all comes back round...

JA:

...[Laughs] It’s all coming back, yes. HB: How did you find the ‘mad scenes’? That’s another thing with Shakespeare, something’s gone on before, but we only see her already mad.

JA:

Yeah, because in her ‘mad scene’ she kind of relates to two things, and one is her relationship to Hamlet and one is about her father dying. But, although you see a kind of decline with the relationship with Hamlet, after her father dies – Have I just given a spoiler?

HB:

I really think not, like you said, “it’s Hamlet!”...

JA:

...After her father dies, we don’t see her again until the ‘mad scene’, so you kind of don’t see that immediate effect that has on her when she finds out, so you kind of just have the decline. When I got the part, obviously I was over the moon, but at the same time as I read the play I was like, “I’ve got to do the ‘mad scene’, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do?” Then you just have to let that go, get into rehearsal – I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what I was going to do to show her madness, I just thought let me see how she relates to people during the course of the play up to that point, and then, hopefully by then, you’ll have a better idea of who she is and why she’s doing what she’s doing.

HB:

So I just want to end by talking a bit about the touring aspect of this performance. So how do you think this play has been adapted to go on tour?

JA:

Well for a start there’s only eight of us. Well we’ve got two stage managers actually as well, so between the ten of us we’re doing all the scene changes, all the music and the costume changes. And so it’s going to be mad, you know, and doubling up on parts.

HB:

Do you play another part?

JA:

I play one other small part, Voltemand the Ambassador, but then also there’s Players. I mean everyone is doing at least three parts...

HB:

...Apart from Hamlet?

JA:

Apart from Hamlet. Well he’s on so he can’t...

HB:

It’s the biggest Shakespeare part, there’s no time...

JA:

...There’s no time. It’s going to be mad and I think we are going to be helping with the stage management doing the ‘get ins’ and ‘get outs’. It’s going to be completely different to anything I’ve done before. I’m really looking forward to it and I’ve never actually performed outside I don’t believe. You know some of our locations are outside and some are inside. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like. I know we go to Oslo and we’re in various fortresses, what is that going to be like to play in? Compared to then we are in Cornwall where it is just going to be so open, we’re going to have to adjust our performances. And some of the small theatres, the one in Richmond, like the Georgian where it’s small, we’re going to have to adapt everything each time we move.

HB:

That’s why I’m so interested to talk to you throughout the process, because I think it’s just going to change so much. And so you are all ready for Margate, the first stop?

JA:

Margate next week argh!

HB:

Have you been there before?

JA:

Yeah well I’m from Dartford so it’s not far. When we were little we used to go there sometimes to the seaside, but I don’t remember it very well.

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