Opening weekend for Murder on the Nile at the Long Beach Playhouse was SOLD OUT! We have also sold 3 private command performances in addition to our regular run. I feel so blessed to be a part of this fabulous production. The turnout has been no less than amazing. Tonight we hosted out champagne gala. It is rewarding to finally have an audience after weeks of rehearsal. Our audiences have been engaged in solving the mystery and the feedback has been very positive thus far. I cannot wait to get back out there next weekend and continue the journey of Jacqueline de Severac.
We had a spectacular opening weekend for The Lion in Winter! I am so thrilled to be working with such talented performers in the beautiful Whittier Center Theatre. We have put in many hours, working with the local community and a super hero band of volunteers to make this show come alive on stage. We had a Thursday night preview for local high school students, and two superb opening performances. Thank you to everyone who came out to support us this weekend! We appreciate each and every one of you!
Yesterday I took a trip to Hollywood with my director and cast mate to shop for clothing for my character, Mary Haines, in The Women. Finding a costume piece that suggests 1930s has been a challenge. We stopped off at Bettie Page Clothing in Hollywood, but as the store name suggests, we were met by a plethora of 1950s style clothing but very little that fit the scope of the play. Luckily a quick stop at American Vintage was just the thing we needed. I was able to pick out 4 dresses that I can accessorize accordingly. I am excited to begin wearing Mary's clothing and physically become the character. To see our costume choices, you will have to come to the show. Check out my Events page for details.
Sandra Holt, of The Stratford Herald, recently praised the Shakespeare Institute Players in her latest review of the RSC’s As
You Like It. It seems the Institute’s production of As You Like It turned some heads in Stratford-upon-Avon. In her mention she praised our production as “beautifully performed” and named this year’s RSC production as a “runner-up in the Stratford staging stakes”. Of course I am not delusional enough to believe that the greater theatrical community found our production more intriguing than that of the Royal Shakespeare Company (Pippa Nixon is my all-time favorite RSC actress afterall), but I am certainly glad that we made an impression and are still being talked about nearly a year later. I feel so blessed and honored to have played Rosalind with the Shakespeare Institute Players and I am so proud of everyone involved.
I am debuting a new look! I have returned to my natural hair color and sporting bangs, or as the British call it, fringe.
Check out my new headshots here. Don't forget to let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Did Claudius and Gertrude have an affair before the death of Old Hamlet?
The ghost refers to Gertrude as an “incestuous and adulterate beast". In Elizabethan England, and according to the Old Testament book of Leviticus 20:21, marrying your late husband’s brother would be considered an incestuous act (“If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing.”). Thus, when Gertrude remarries Claudius she effectively is guilty of incest. The word “adultery” may refer either to a marital affair (in the modern sense) or any sexual sin (in the Elizabethan sense), including incest. For certain, Gertrude is guilty of incest. Whether or not they had an affair is ambiguous, but Shakespeare certainly spares no expense in describing their heated sexuality. Claudius and Gertrude obviously have chemistry.
Does Gertrude know Claudius killed Hamlet, Sr.?
I have been thinking about this question a lot lately. I do not believe this one to be as enigmatic as some may think. In my mind, the answer is ‘no’. There is no textual evidence to support the affirmative response to this question. First, she marries her husband’s killer—and act that seems unfathomable if she knows of foul play. She either doesn’t know, or she was 100% complicit. But if she were a true accomplice, there would be no reason for the ghost to instruct Hamlet to leave her sins alone (“Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven”). Her sins, while still vile, are not as great as murder and will “prick and sting” her as she lives. Let’s face it, no one knows of King Hamlet’s murder. It takes a ghost to make this fact known. Therefore Gertrude’s only deadly sin is her “o'erhasty marriage” as a crime of incest/adultery. Likewise, she shows no signs of guilt, counter to Claudius’ guilt which “smells to heaven”. Second, she shows surprise at Hamlet’s suggestion that his father was murdered. I believe her line "As kill a king?" in the closet scene is not so much an ‘Oh crap, Hamlet knows!’ as it is a realization of the possibility that Hamlet’s seemingly mad reality might be true. Perhaps she is naïve, or perhaps in that moment she is forced to consider a possibility she has formerly repressed. Whether she is ignorant or mentally inhibited, her innocence creates a further complication which stifles Hamlet’s ability to carry out revenge. The ghost must reappear to remind Hamlet to help his mother, not hurt her. Still, Gertrude does not see the ghost. Assuming she now knows in her heart and mind that Claudius is a murderer, her attitude remains strikingly unaffected on the surface. This is partly because Hamlet instructs her to keep her distance from Claudius and be complicate in his feigned madness, and partly her own uncertainty. She lies to Claudius to protect Hamlet, telling Claudius that Hamlet "weeps for what is done" when clearly he does not. She feels guilty for the actions that lead to Polonius’ death (“so full of jealously is guilt / it spills itself in fearing to be spilt”) and the subsequent madness of Ophelia, yet still does not outwardly take sides. Unless she knows the cup is poisoned…
Does Gertrude know the cup is poisoned?
Since the text is ambiguous it is difficult to tell. Perhaps Gertrude drinks knowingly, trading her son’s life for her own. Perhaps she is suspicious, but ultimately unsure if the cup is poisoned, risking her life to save Hamlet from certain death. Perhaps she is unaware, oblivious to the danger that awaits her, only recognizing the truth when she is faced with death. All seem a fitting end to a Shakespearean tragedy. Most Oedipal interpretations agree that Gertrude knowingly drinks the poison, bringing her relationship with Hamlet full circle – she then becomes the nurturing mother Hamlet desires.
Why does Ophelia give Gertrude rue?
It is interesting that the only herb Ophelia intends for herself is rue: "...there's rue for you, and here's some for me; we may call it herb of grace o'Sundays; O, you must wear your rue with a difference." Scholars commonly agree that the rue is also meant for Gertrude. The symbolic meaning of rue is regret, but the practical application of rue is as a powerful abortifacient which can be lethally toxic. Does this explain why Gertrude married Claudius so quickly after her husband’s death? Or is the rue simply in reference to the regret and repentance? Being the Shakespeare purest that I am, I tend to lean toward the latter.
But, to discover how I deal with these questions you must come see the play!
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Last night we began blocking "the closet scene"/my favorite scene in Hamlet. After spending a minimal amount of time walking through it, I came home slightly disappointed and confused. Mostly, I felt dissatisfied with the mundaneness that overwhelmed me after working on what should be one of the most exciting scenes in the play. Perhaps I was just having an off-night, but I can't stop thinking about it. It is clear to me that I still have a plethora of unanswered questions in my head.
When I read Hamlet, I often ask myself ‘Why?’. There is the big why: Why does Hamlet remain in inaction for so long? And the whys that defy reason: Why does Hamlet hesitate to kill Claudius? Why does Hamlet so easily slay Polonius? Why is Hamlet so cruel to Ophelia? Etc.
This time, as I read the play, I have a whole new collection of whys: Why does Gertrude marry Claudius, and why so soon after the death of King Hamlet? Why does Gertrude reject her motherly identity? Why does Gertrude agree to banish her own son? In short, why is Gertrude so confusing?
In The Spiritual Shakespeare, “Spectres of Hamlet,” Richard Kearney describes Hamlet as “a story about the simultaneous necessity and impossibility of stories. Ophelia cannot tell her story until she goes mad (when she tells everything but is no longer herself: ‘Here’s rosemary for remembrance’); Claudius cannot tell his story, even in the confessional, until it is forced from him by the play within the play; Gertrude cannot tell her story because she is ignorant of it (she does not know that Claudius killed the King); Polonius and his fellow courtiers, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Osric, cannot tell their stories since they say only what pleases or deceives. Even Prince Hamlet cannot tell his story for as long as conscience makes a coward of him: not until, dying of a fatal wound, he begs his friend Horatio: ‘absent thee from felicity awhile to tell my story’.Which means that this is a play where no one actually tells their story, no one truly remembers, until Prince Fortinbras arrives too late on the scene, and announces: ‘I have some rights of memoryin this kingdom / Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me’” (Kearney 159-60).
Now, as an actor, the most important question I ask myself is ‘How do I tell the story?’ – A question negated by the inability of Gertrude to remember the past and plan for the future. Perhaps this explains my frustrations from last night.
If I consider the closet scene, Act III, scene iv, I am filled with more and more uncertainty. This pivotal scene presents a great deal of action and insight into the characters of Hamlet and Gertrude, but it also begs the answers to additional questions: Does Gertrude know of Claudius’ involvement in King Hamlet’s murder? Is Gertrude guilty of infidelity prior to the death of Hamlet, Sr.? Does Hamlet truly win Gertrude over to his side? These are questions that must be answered by me, the actor – It is clear I have a lot of work to do…
I am proud to announce that I have been offered a place to study at Birmingham University’s Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon Avon! In late September I will be leaving my Los Angeles life behind (at least temporarily) to embark on a journey to England. I will spend the following year pursuing my Master of Arts (MA) in Shakespeare Studies. I will be closer to The Bard than ever before! This is truly a dream come true!
If you would like to follow me while I am gone, please subscribe to my blog Shakespeare 4 Me!
This afternoon marked the closing performance of Killjoy at the Newport Theatre Arts Center. After a 5 week run I am ready to bid farewell to the murder and mayhem.
I am happy to boast that we entertained the playwright himself, Jerry Mayer and his lovely wife Emily. “You guys did a great job,” he said as we greeting him at the stage door. As a former television writer-turned playwright – Mr. Mayer wrote for such shows as M*A*S*H, The Facts of Life, and Bewitched.
I found Jerry to be a jovial and kind-hearted man. He joked that many of the lines in the show were actually things he had said in conversation – using his own phrases such as “I want to live as long as my taste buds are working,” as dialog.
His wife and producer, Emily stood by with an elegant amusement as we discussed the show. It was truly an honor to perform Killjoy for the Mayers.
As I take a brief break for the holiday season, I look forward to a new year of theatre projects. Let’s make 2011 a year to remember!