Let me introduce you to these young, talented, and athletic cast members of Synetic Teen Company’s production of Hamlet…the rest is silence, playing through April 18, 2015.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform locally.
Eva Gary: Hi. My name is Eva Gary and I’m a 7th grader at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington. Most recently, I was in A Christmas Carol at the Little Theater of Alexandria.
Lexie Lounsbury: Hello! I’m Lexie Lounsbury, a junior at Yorktown High School. I participated in Yorktown’s recent production of The Outsiders, but my most recent show was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Encore Stage & Studio. And, of course, if you’ve seen previous productions by the Synetic Teen Company, you could have found me in The Best Haunted House Ever or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Besides being a theatre geek, I’m an avid writer and hockey fan.
Matthew Palacios: My name is Matthew Palacios. You may have seen me in Gunston Middle School plays or short films produced by the Educational Theatre Company.
Maura O’Reilly: My name is Maura O’Reilly and I am a junior at Washington-Lee High School. You may have seen me perform in The Crucible at Keegan Theater, Werther with the Washington National Opera, or in multiple other shows at McLean Community Players, Little Theater of Alexandria, Chalice Theater, and Washington-Lee High School.
Richard Bew: My name is Richard Bew. I’m a Junior in high school and my habitat is the city. The last show I performed in locally was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with Encore Stage and Studio wherein I played the eldest brother, Peter.
Sean Silvia: My name is Sean Silvia. Recently I have performed in Arcadia and Catch Me If You Can, at Walt Whitman High School, and Godspell at Imagination Stage.
Why did you want to be in this production?
Eva: I love the physical challenge and unique artistic interpretation that Synetic brings to the stage. I am very grateful to be a part of this amazing cast and to be in a Synetic show.
Lexie: Synetic Theater always provides a challenge, whether you’re new to physical theatre or a seasoned company member. I have yet to find a learning plateau in my time with the Teen Company, so I want to keep improving to get toward elusive “wall.” Also, unlike many younger teens in this show, I have little time left until I flee the nest. Synetic Theater has the most unique and innovative style of theatre I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing, and I’d like to absorb as much of it as I can before graduating high school. It is for those reasons that I auditioned for my third Teen Company show and will audition for my fourth this coming season. (There’s also the fact that it’s so much fun, but that’s a given.)
Matthew: I knew someone who did a previous teen show and I was very impressed.
Maura: I wanted to be in this production because I have been seeing Synetic shows since 2008, and I have had many friends who have done the teen program. I’ve always admired Synetic’s productions because I had never realized how movement could create such emotion and carry out entire storylines. All of the Synetic shows that I see are so beautiful and moving and I really wanted to be a part of that. Synetic also has such specific techniques that I have always found fascinating and have always wanted to learn.
Richard: Shortly after moving here (from California) last year, my mother got me a ticket to see Synetic’s teen production: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was more than impressed by the show (almost to jealousy), so I HAD to Audition for their next teen show and learn how to do the things I saw.
Sean: I wanted to do this production because I have done a lot of traditional Shakespearean theatre before, and this was a very new take of Shakespeare’s works. I had heard about their production of Hamlet… the rest is silence a few years ago, and was intrigued, and luckily the option has come around to actually be able to perform it.
Who do you play and do you share any similar traits with your character?
Eva: I play Ophelia, Hamlet’s love interest. I think I am similar to Ophelia because we are both sensitive and empathetic. Also, we both have some wacky bed head!
Lexie: Well, I’m ensemble, so this is a bit tough, as I mostly create atmosphere for a lot of concrete characters. But I suppose I’ll compare myself to the guillotine I play at one point. We both control the fate of a lot of people. I’m kidding. In truth, during many scenes I have to tap into my inner angst, be it for Hamlet’s or Claudius’ demons. It’s good practice, as we’re learning about substitution in acting in my high school theatre class.
Matthew: I play the gravedigger, Horatio, the priest, and I am also in the ensemble. I cannot think of any similarities.
Maura: I play Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. A main trait that I share with her is the immense love and care that we can have. Gertrude exhibits deep caring and love for her son throughout the show, and nothing changes that (even though she doesn’t always make the best decisions for their family). I find that I am very similar in the intense care and love that I have for my friends and family, which is always present in my life and the actions that I take and decisions that I make.
Richard: I play Claudius, the kingslayer. Claudius is unrelenting evil. I think too highly of myself to say I share any qualities with my character. Hmm, then again, maybe we both suffer a little haughtiness.
Sean: I play Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. I am similar to him in the fact that we both like to procrastinate, only I with homework, and Hamlet contemplating suicide and murder.
How did you prepare for your role and how did you train for the role?
Eva: Our Director, Choreographer and directorial staff gave us questions and encouraged us to journal daily. This was useful in preparing for the role. Our Director Alex Mills ran us through regular “boot camp” conditioning which was a sweat-fest and a great way to prepare physically for the show.
Lexie: There isn’t too much character work for an abstract ensemble piece, so the focus lies more on maintaining kinesthetic awareness as we move to create a sound stage picture that frames the ongoing plot.
Matthew: Other than the regular rehearsals, I walked around the house like a gravedigger and, for the priest, I blessed everything I saw.
Maura: We had a week-long ensemble training period at the beginning of the rehearsal process before we were cast in specific roles that included cardio, endurance, and strength training, which are al key to a lot of the choreography that we have in the show. We also did ensemble building exercises to build awareness of each other. After getting cast as Gertrude, I did some scene study and character work on my own time, and then in the rehearsal room Alex and Kathy would give me notes to help articulate and sharpen the choices that I made for Gertrude.
Richard: I took a Synetic movement workshop prior to auditioning for this show. It went a LONG way in preparing me for the Synetic style. The movement requires a level of athleticism. Every rehearsal our director Alex would lead us in an intense 20-30 minute warmup (the squats though).
Sean: The way I prepared and trained for my role was definitely practice. LOTS of practice.
What have been the biggest challenges for you in rehearsals?
Eva: I was challenged to step outside the box with this role. My comfort zone is comedic acting, so playing a more serious role challenged me to try something new.
Lexie: The ensemble is in the majority of the show, so there is a lot of choreography to remember! Luckily, our lovely stage manager Sofia has given us access to videos of rehearsal for us to review on our own time. As someone with not the best memory, it’s been a great challenge to keep all my movement fresh in my mind– and I do believe I’ve improved.
Matthew: Rehearsals are time-consuming on top of homework and other activities. The fitness was sometimes hard.
Maura: My biggest challenge in rehearsal has been stepping away from the ingenue archetype that I am used to playing. I tend to be cast as the sweet love interest, and Gertrude is so different than that. She is strong and devious, but also exhibits a deep caring for her son at all times, even though she doesn’t always consider Hamlet in the decisions that she makes. She easily falls for anyone who gives her any form of attention or affection and is blind to their ulterior motives for giving her this adoration. Bringing out all of these diverse qualities and breaking away from the ingenue mindset was the hardest part of the rehearsal process for me.
Richard: Keeping the noise your enjoyment lets off to a minimum was (still is) the biggest challenge. The cast is a salad of high-energy, diverse, fun people and performing this show is a roller coaster. Sometimes you just accidentally let off an explosive laugh.
Sean: The biggest challenge for me was adopting the new style of acting. I am used to traditional Shakespeare acting, which is very different from the style here at Synetic.
What scene that you are in and not in do you like the best and why?
Eva: My favorite scene that I am in is ‘Ophelia’s Madness.’ The movement is so unique and perfectly choreographed for Ophelia. My favorite scene that I am not in is “To Be or Not To Be” because it is amazing to see how synchronized the ensemble is and how, even though it is about Hamlet, my eyes are drawn to them sometimes, too.
Lexie: I enjoy participating in ‘Claudius’ Nightmare,’ which utilizes only four ensemble members, Claudius, and Hamlet, Sr. There’s just so much more room onstage in which to operate and you can really tune in to your stretcher partners onstage. When it comes to a scene that I’m not in, I would have to favor the prologue. There’s something about the ominous swinging light illuminating the people who have died that really nails me.
Matthew: The scene I like the most that I am in is the ‘Gravedigger Scene’ because I can play with my character more and have fun with it.
Maura: That’s hard. The scene that I like the best that I am not in is probably ‘Claudius’ Nightmare.’ The Nightmare has some of the most intense music and choreography of the show, and luckily I have a scene right after it so I get to watch it from backstage every night. I also love the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern/Boat Scene because of how cleverly the stretchers and actors are used to portray multiple events over a short period of time. My favorite scene that I am in is probably the ‘Letter Conspiracy.’ It’s short, but I love the quick mood and emotion switches that Gertrude goes through in that scene. It’s a lot of fun to make all of the instantaneous discoveries and changes in the two minutes that I am onstage.
Richard: I really like ‘Claudius’ Nightmare.’ I get to express a wide range of emotions in a condensed period. It’s a blast! Combined with the flashlights and stretcher chaos, it’s an easy choice for me. As far as scenes I’m not in, definitely Ophelia’s drowning (<-btw, spoilers). Gets me every time!
Sean: One of my favorite scenes that I am in is ‘Claudius’ Nightmare.’ There is so much going on metaphorically, the lighting and music are amazing, and the ensemble is incorporated perfectly. The use of smoke and the heated fight between Claudius and Hamlet Senior at the end add lots of energy, and the fade out at the end of the movements and the music bring the scene to a close perfectly. I also like the Ophelia’s madness scene, because it never fails to hit home emotionally and resonate with the viewer, and the music is excellently incorporated with the movement.
‘What have you learned as an actor being a member of this ensemble?
Eva: I have learned how to feel what to do next through viewpoints instead of asking out loud.
Lexie: I’ve learned that while moving together as an ensemble looks great, it looks amazing when there’s an added level of precision and sharpness to the execution of the choreography. And while I can’t see the final product from the audience, there are times when I can really sense our synchronization. That makes all of the long rehearsals worth it and makes me appreciate the true power that the ensemble can have over the audience.
Matthew: I have learned how to work with people better. I have learned how to take criticism better.
Maura: I have learned a lot about taking emotion and putting it into my body. As this is a silent show, we don’t have our voices or lines to help convey the story or the characters, so I have had to learn how to really physicalize the emotions and relationships between characters and make them big enough so that the audience can read what is going on. I have also learned more about awareness of the entire cast, whether it be for spacing onstage or for traffic backstage. We constantly have to be aware of where everyone is so that we don’t accidentally injure someone or mess up the stage picture.
Richard: I have never been in a show so movement oriented. I’ve learned how to move through different mediums, dead point, and mime. Further, I have learned how to breath and operate with an ensemble. There are no words in Synetic’s Hamlet, so we’ve learned how to move together and queue ourselves through “ensemble proprioception.” Also, don’t consume unlabelled packets of salt while assuming they’re sugar.
Sean: I have learned a lot about how to use silence. Often times holding to let the individual beats of a scene settle and land with the audience can be much more effective that a continuous stream of movement. Harnessing these beats is crucial to creating an effective silent performance.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Hamlet: the rest is silence?
Eva: I hope this will be a conversation starter. Shakespeare was an amazing writer and his work is very well known, so this silent interpretation of his work should bring a new perspective to people who haven’t seen anything like it before.
Lexie: I would really encourage audience members to remember that there are plenty of us who have never done a Synetic show and are doing it now at full strength. If a first-time adolescent can do it, you can too. And if you’re a teen in the DMV looking for a unique, exciting theatre experience, come out and audition for a Teen Company show, because they only come around once a year. There are also many classes in acting and fitness for all ages, so check them out online!
Matthew: Shakespeare can be successfully done without words!
Maura: I hope that audiences come away with a new understanding and appreciation of this style of theater. When I tell my friends about this show, they always question how a Shakespeare play can be performed without words, so I think it will be really exciting for people who are new to the Synetic style to see how that can be done.
Richard: The memory of a truly unique experience.
Sean: I want people to take with them a new and unique experience, and an excellently choreographed, directed, scored, and designed rendition of Hamlet, and perhaps even a new understanding of the show for those who couldn’t connect with the language of the original.
What are you doing next on the stage?
Eva: I am not sure what my next role will be! I am sending the resume out now and looking forward to see what comes up next!
Lexie: The next performance for me will be today – SATURDAY. (Ha.) I don’t have any upcoming theatre productions, but I’m keeping my options open and I’m excited to get back into it this summer!
Matthew: Nothing specific yet but hopefully other Synetic shows, ETC. productions, and school plays.
Maura: Next I am playing Tammy in Hairspray at Washington-Lee High School (April 23-25!) and then I will be off to Northwestern University for five weeks this summer to train with their National High School Institute/Cherubs acting program!
Richard: I have no upcoming roles or auditions planned. I hope to audition for Synetic once more next year! :)
Sean: Next I am going to be performing in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Theatre Company.
Synetic Team Company’s Hamlet…the rest is silence plays through April 18, 2014 at Synetic Theater-1800 S Bell Street, in Arlington, VA. Performances are tonight, April 11th at 8pm;April 12th at 2pm;April 16th, 17th, and 18th at 8pm. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.