I’m very excited and proud to be able to announce the first three casting choices for Hamlet. I probably won’t be doing any more casting until September, so these are the faces of the show for the summer.
Wesley J. Colford (Hamlet) is an emerging actor/playwright and a recent “artist to watch” in NOW Magazine. He recently completed studies at Sheridan College and George Brown Theatre School, and now he splits his time between Toronto, where he co-founded Aim for the Tangent Theatre, and Sydney, where he is Artistic Director of the Highland Arts Theatre. Both Cape Breton and Toronto audiences will have a chance to see Wesley onstage this spring, in the romantic comedy First Time Last Time by yours truly.
Kathleen O’Toole (Ophelia) studied psychology and neuroscience at Dalhousie University before immersing herself in acting, first at the Fortress of Louisbourg, and subsequently at the Boardmore Theatre (playing Viola in Twelfth Night) and the Highland Arts Theatre (Ryann in Shit Song for Some Island). She is also the co-founder of Her Voice Theatre Company, whose inaugural production, a biographical play about Katherine MacLennan, will premiere at Louisbourg this summer.
Todd Pettigrew (Claudius) is an actor, director, and bona fide Shakespearean scholar, having received his PhD in English from Waterloo University. His directing work at the Boardmore includes Twelfth Night, Cyrano de Bergerac, Death of a Salesman, and Romeo & Juliet. He also played Banquo in the Bandshell Players production of Macbeth.
Here is part of the email I sent to my shiny new actors:
If you’re excited and would like some Hamlet homework, here ya go:1) Start a journal or a blog. Nine months is a long time to think about one play.2) Reread the play. First just your own scenes, then the whole script.3) Watch or listen to some other Shakespeare plays from the same period (Henry V, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, etc.). This helps tune up your verse ears without pushing other people’s versions of Hamlet into your head.4) Our show will be fairly expressionistic. Watch some Tim Burton films — Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow or The Corpse Bride — or, if you’re daring, try David Lynch’s Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive. Or read/watch a few expressionistic plays by Strindberg. If they remind you of any musicians or visual artists, collect samples to bring in to rehearsal.5) For fun, choose a few “favourites” for your character — Claudius’s favourite drink, Ophelia’s favourite musical instrument, Hamlet’s favourite knock-knock joke. Don’t confine yourself to one time period. Shakespeare didn’t care about anachronisms; neither do we.6) Ruminate upon your deepest fears.
I also sent them this illustration, by John Austen.
Let the adventure begin!