In Part Four of our series of interviews with the cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet, meet George Page.
Joel: How did you become involved with this production of Hamlet?
George: Sally Boyett, our director, contacted me on January 12th and asked me to audition for Polonius. I drove to Annapolis about a week later and read for the part. I believe the request for an audition came as a result of my audition at the Actor’s Center Cattle Call in December 2013. Kristin Clippard, the producer of this production, saw my audition there and I have to assume she passed my name onto Sally. What did you perform at your audition? Sally sent me Polonius’ speech to Laertes from Act I sc iii of the play which was a bit amusing since I had opened one of my copies of the play to that speech when Sally’s email arrived.
Why did you want to play the roles of Polonius and the Gravedigger, and what is the most fun about playing them?
Polonius has been a bucket list role for me for a few years. I enjoy the humor the character brings to the play. Same thing goes for the Gravedigger. Those two have some of the best lines in all of Shakespeare.
What are some of the suggestions that Sally has given you on playing your roles that have made your performance better?
A note that I have gotten a few times is “suck up all the Oxygen in the room,” if that doesn’t tell you something about Polonius…
What do you admire about the design of the show and how does the design of the show affect/enhance your performance?
I think the design makes the most of the available space. The concept of the stage design is a tip of the hat to Freud’s iceberg of consciousness. Depending on the location of the action on stage, it reflects something about consciousness to each movement of the characters.
When did you get the ‘Theater Bug’?
I had been in school plays prior to high school, but when I was a Freshman, I really became enthralled with theatre. As part of my high school graduation, I received the award for most points earned in theatrical productions. Those points came from hours and hours of working on and offstage.
Where did you get your theatre training?
I received my BFA in Theatre followed by an MFA in Acting and Directing from West Virginia University. In graduate school, I trained in the Meisner technique under Donald Biehn. I have continued to study just by watching great actors.
What other Shakespearean roles have you played and other than your character here, which other character in Hamlet is your favorite and why?
I have had the pleasure of having the roles of Macbeth in and Edgar in King Lear in full productions. I have also performed in staged readings as Kent in King Lear, Lord Capulet in Romeo & Julio (er Juliet), Player King in Hamlet, and Ross in Macbeth. My most favorite character in Hamlet would have to be the Ghost. After all, if it weren’t for him, there wouldn’t be a play, would there?
What is/are your favorite line or lines that another character recites?
I think my favorite lines other than my own would have to be the player King’s story of Pyrrhus and Priam. The intensity of that story has always intrigued me.
What are your favorite line/lines that Polonius recites?
My favorite Polonius line would have to be after Hamlet asks about the troupe of players and Polonius says, “The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy nor Plautus too light.”
(8) What do you admire most about your fellow cast members’ performances and each other’s performance?
I admire the moment-to-moment connections that we are discovering in the rehearsal process. Each day brings new light to our character’s relationships to each other.
Which character in the play is most like you and why?
I think I might be closest to Horatio in this play. He is the great friend of the Hamlet and his interactions with Hamlet are based in truth and, at times, he brings Hamlet back into reality. Horatio is calm and rational and I feel I share those qualities.
How can 2014 audiences relate to Hamlet?
Shakespeare’s understanding of human nature is probably at its strongest in this play. Audiences should be able to relate to the struggles of family relationships. Some many children today have parents as well as step parents or they live in single parent households. So much of the motivation of the characters and the obstacles in this play come from the fact that these families are broken. Modern audiences should be able to relate quite easily to that. The mental health issues that are broached in the play also play well to a modern audience.
What roles that you haven’t played yet are on your top 5 list?
Friar Lawrence in R&J, Henry II in The Lion in Winter, Kent in King Lear, Dr. Dysart in Equus. Twice, I’ve played George in Same Time, Next Year and I would love to recreate that role in Bernard Slade’s sequel, Same Time, Another Year.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Hamlet.
I hope they come away from the production mostly with a smile on their faces when they think of the humorous parts in the play.
I also hope they can see where Polonius suffered for his nearsightedness and the fact that he put his duty to Claudius over his duty to his family.
Amanda Gunther’s review on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Hamlet’ at Annapolis Shakespeare Company: Part 1: Manu Kumasi.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Hamlet’ at Annapolis Shakespeare Company: Part 2: Audrey Bertaux.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Hamlet’ at Annapolis Shakespeare Company: Part 3: Paul E. Hope.