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article imageJonathan Forbes talks playing Hamlet in Shakespeare@ production Special

By Markos Papadatos     Mar 13, 2019 in Entertainment
Jersey City - Actor Jonathan Forbes chatted with Digital Journal about playing Hamlet in a Shakespeare@ inaugural production, which opens on March 31, at Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City, New Jersey.
On playing Hamlet in this inaugural Shakespearean production, Forbes said, "Portraying Hamlet is a dream job for many reasons, the first obviously being the role itself. It's a part I've wanted to play since theatre school and wasn't sure if I would get to play. I played Osric in 2004/5 at the Royal Shakespeare Company so I had something of an inside track at that point, but at that stage, I wasn’t ready for Hamlet himself."
"Secondly, it’s an enormous pleasure to be working with a man who I have known since theatre school," Forbes said. "The founder of the company and artistic director Sean Hagerty and I were at Bristol Old Vic together and to be directed by him here in Jersey City is absolutely fantastic. We have an extremely talented cast and I hope many people will come and see it."
When asked how he handles being dialogue and monologue heavy (for the part of Hamlet), he said, "It's a gradual process and a lot of the preparation happens by virtue of walking and thinking and wondering and worrying! The process of learning all the words helps one to inhabit the part. That may sound ridiculously simple but I find that learning the words is only possible when you understand them to some degree."
Forbes continued, "Shakespeare is endlessly re-interpretable and cryptic so one never full 'understands' it, but before starting rehearsal there is a lot of groundwork necessary. What comes out in the rehearsal room is often unexpected and surprising as a result. Add in other actors and their ideas/interpretations/personalities and there’s a lot to digest already."
"When the audience is thrown into the mix that will also change things. So getting into character is partially about your preparation and your analysis but it’s also about being open to your surroundings and your instincts," he added.
On his plans for the future, Forbes said, "I don't know what work I'm going to have next, which is normal for an actor. I will doubtless be either auditioning or something might appear out of the sky. Who knows. I live in London so unless something crops up I'll be getting back there for a while."
Each day, Forbes is motivated by the "enormous gratitude" that he gets to do a "lovely job." "I am not constantly motivated I would say. The acting bit motivates me plenty but the hustling side of things doesn't," he said.
When asked about the impact of technology on the entertainment business, Forbes said, "Catastrophe is shown on Amazon in the United States. So what do I think of that? I'm happy it's on the telly and I'm happy that I am in the show, but as to what influence such giants have on our industry, I don't have enough expertise to make any clumsy judgments."
Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine as an actor, he said, "As an actor, my phone is very handy for making notes and learning lines. Although I think social media plays a key role in the modern theater world, I don't personally use any."
Forbes listed Glenn Close, Natascha McElhone, Helen McCrory, and Sharon Horgan as his dream female acting partners. "I think I would be tempting fate to name anyone else after those four. The leading actors in Hamlet are also absolutely brilliant so that's plenty for the moment," he said.
His advice for aspiring actors is as follows: "Try and enjoy your life as much as possible. The work requires resilience and an open heart to an extent but desperation doesn't help. I have spent a lot of time worrying about it all and it's a waste of time."
For his fans and viewers, Forbes concluded, "Viewers of Shakespeare@, thanks for coming. We really hope you enjoy the play and this wonderful space we are performing in. I know that Sean has poured his heart and soul into creating Shakespeare@, and it shines through in this inaugural production. Looking towards the future, I’m interested to see which exciting site he places the next Shakespeare play in."
To learn more about Shakespeare@, check out its official website.
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