Proving that Shakespeare is for all ages and all people, Westridge School in Pasadena is getting ready to open an all-female 1990’s grunge-inspired production of Hamlet, starring Madeleine Russell in the title role. Anyone who has ever worked on the play, and particularly on that role, will tell you that it is a huge undertaking and one that presents many opportunities for growth, both as an actor and as a person. Since I’m always interested in the process, I asked Russell, who is a 17-year old senior at Westridge, what it was like for her to step into the shoes of one of Shakespeare’s most tortured characters. I think you’ll be impressed at what she has to say about her experience.
How do you get inside a character like this as a young woman in the role, rather than a young man?
Because my school is single-sex, I have had the chance to play men before. I find that my approach is fairly similar for any character, male or female. I read for emotions, motivators, character shifts. I analyze their journey, always taking into consideration their present circumstances. With Hamlet, I have easier access to his feelings and thoughts. He never hides from the audience, which I find to be one of the reasons he is so compelling. More