This week, our Horatio, Kat Hermes, shares her experiences from the first weeks of rehearsal.

Hello, Blog Readers! I’m Kat Hermes and I’m playing Horatio. I’m also the costume coordinator, so I’ll be working under our designer, Roz Mayberry, directing the costume construction crew. Once we go into production week and the costumes are handed over to the wardrobe crew, I’ll be acting as Fight Captain and making sure all of our onstage violence stays safe for the actors and audience.

One of the things that I find most rewarding about working with an original practices company like Pigeon Creek is the opportunity to work on multiple parts of a production. We’re not relying on a separate team of set, costume, and sound techs to create the world in which we play, we’re building it ourselves. If there are people in the seats, it’s because we went out with posters and postcards and did our own marketing. Also, I love that I don’t have to chose between acting and costuming. I get to do both, and let my work on one inform my work on the other.

Right now, we’re nearing the end of our second week of rehearsal. While last week was all about introductions, this week we got to get out hands dirty and work on some scenes. Generally, scene work goes like this: we read through the scene, talk about any textual questions and then put it on its feet. Our director, Katherine Mayberry, will stop and start us to adjust our positions onstage. Once we’ve got a shape for the scene, we run it again and start to layer in character, intentions, atmosphere (you know, the “acting” part).

The first scene we worked was, appropriately enough, the first scene of the play. Guards Marcellus and Bernardo bring Horatio up to the battlements of the castle to watch for the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who has appeared to them twice before. After we read through the scene, Katherine asked if I thought Horatio actually expected to see the ghost, and I answered definitely not. In fact, I think he’s a little annoyed that he’s been dragged out in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold, because Marcellus and Bernardo got spooked by something that was probably an owl flying by, or a coat on a chair.

After we’d walked through the scene once and everyone had a general idea of where they were supposed to be in each moment, we ran it again using the cold as a point of concentration. I found that focusing on the cold effected both my breath and movement. Next, we turned out the lights in the room and ran the scene again in total darkness (reading out scripts by flashlight). The characters’ lines indicate it is too dark to see each other clearly. “Playing the darkness” can be tricky in an original practices production, with both the stage and the audience fully illuminated all the time, but I think we made some progress toward finding the “creepy” atmosphere Katherine wants in the scene.

Outside of rehearsal this week I’ve been working on my musical parts (I’m playing the bass guitar for the first time) and doing text work, looking at the way my character uses language, scanning my verse lines and thinking about what that tells me about him.

So, that’s a little glimpse into my rehearsal process.