By Mercedes Villanueva MacDonald, YPT Co-op Student
Never in my life have I wanted to be cast as the lead in an unofficial prequel/prelude to Hamlet. These are my thoughts as I stand in the Nathan Cohen Studio at YPT, auditioning for the Drama School’s Senior Ensemble. I’m about to do the monologue I had prepared for them. They gave us around six to seven different monologues to choose from; half male characters and half female. So, after reading through them all I chose a selection from I, Claudia, which turned out to be a great choice because the play we ending up doing became a prelude to Hamlet. Angsty teen meets angsty teen.
We were told to give our instructor the top three roles we would like to be cast in. So, of course I chose Laertes (such a terrible brother), Horatio (cheeky l’il man), and Ophelia (in love with a psychopathic murderer). Two days later we all get an email from “Prince of Denmark Casting”. I’m unnecessarily nervous. So I click on the email. It says:
Hello Ladies of Denmark, [It was funny because it was an all-female cast when the play only had one female role…pretty awesome, right?]
Below is a cast list. Please be aware…
[Here lies the rest of the email]
Laertes – ***** [Well there is still Horatio and Ophelia. Not all hope is lost.]
Reynaldo – *****
Osric – ****
Rosencrantz – *****
Guildenstern – *****
Horatio – ***** [Okay, don’t get nervous, still haven’t seen Ophelia…chin up, kid]
Player A – *****
Player B – *****
[Wait. Where’s Ophelia? Uh, hold on, excuse me, what does that—are you kidding me?]
Hamlet – Mercedes [No. No way. You’ve got to be kidding me. Hamlet, really?]
Now you might be thinking, “Why are you so disappointed? You got the lead role. Shouldn’t you be like super happy about that?” Okay yeah, woohoo, it’s kinda cool, but I seriously didn’t want the lead. It was this daunting feeling of, “This play is literally about you, and it’s riding on your shoulders, and you can’t mess it up because then everyone will hate you and this whole play will flop.” I was a very dramatic kid, a shy one, but definitely overly dramatic at times.
But in all honesty, the role turned out to be a huge confidence and ego boost. You’re the Prince of Denmark, everyone looks up to you like you’re some God. That could also be them lying through their teeth so you don’t murder them on the spot, but yeah, same thing. To this day I still have no clue as to why I was so dismayed at the idea of playing Hamlet, because as soon as we got into the meat of it, oh boy, did I eat that role up. I mean who doesn’t want to be a whiny prince with trust issues? Okay, probably a lot of people. But come on, it’s pretty darn fun.
When I came onstage the first thing I got to do was burst through a set of doors absolutely seething with rage while simultaneously scaring the pants off of the audience and shouting, “God’s blood, what a fool!” Heaven, amiright? At this point I was just soaking up all the benefits from being cast as Hamlet; because in the end, doesn’t everyone just want a taste of the spotlight?