Being Hamlet

By Brandon S. Bryan, Master of Stage

Hamlet is a long, hard show. Hamlet (the character) can, at times, be grueling and unforgiving to the actor portraying him. With the role comes immeasurable pressure: Hamlet is often held up as the greatest character in Western Literature. His soliloquies are some of the most famous pieces of poetry ever. “To be, or not to be…”, “too, too sallied flesh”, “O what a rouge and peasant slave am I”; these are all instantly recognizable by anyone, even if that person has never seen or read the play.

To me, the challenge of doing Hamlet (aside from learning 1000+ lines after arriving late to the role) was getting rid of everything I thought about Hamlet. I had to throw out all of the preconceived notions I held about him and the play. Essentially, the challenge for me was not to overthink Hamlet. Overthinking Hamlet is an easy trap to fall into, since Hamlet himself does quite a bit of overthinking.

All challenges considered, I am still immensely grateful to be playing this part. My only hope at this point is that I deliver a Hamlet that an audience will be able to identify and empathize with. As I said, it’s one of the greatest pieces of literature our world has ever seen.