In honor of GDS’s 75th anniversary, the GDS High School theater program will present a 75-minute virtual presentation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The pre-recorded show will premiere in early January 2021 with a live audience and remain accessible to community members and friends for at least one week following opening night.
Before you show up in your Zoom window box seat on opening night, we invite you to peek behind the virtual scenes and learn more about how the students and faculty have put the show together during these extraordinary times.
Costumes & Props
You may be feeling like a winner wearing comfortable elastic pants to work these days, but the Hamlet crew has been working on role-specific costumes for actors since the beginning of October. Eve Kolker ’22, Miriam Akhmetshin ’22, and Signe Schowitz ’22 communicated preliminary design concepts to the cast and provided detailed instructions on how to provide their body measurements to the nearest half inch. Eve sent the actors a step-by-step video guide she recorded while measuring her younger brother at home. The costumes and props teams later delivered finished costumes, complete with jewelry as well as props to the actors’ homes.
Sets & Sound
The sets team set about to design tessellated virtual backgrounds to create the illusion that all of the actors were in the same location. In one scene, actors will be positioned outside a swanky window-studded mansion. The image was subdivided by the sets crew, including Harrison West ’22 and Carmen Gitchell ’22—into 16 Zoom boxes for the actors. Perhaps the sets crew’s most innovative project was a safely distanced outdoor reconnaissance visit to the abandoned Tome School complex by designers Nicolas Moiseyev ’21 and Emmett Freeman ’21. The photograph they took onsite was later edited to a gloomy night scene befitting a Shakespearean graveyard tragedy (see below).
You’ll have to attend the show to see how music will be integrated into the program, but for now, the sound team has set the mood with a Spotify playlist featuring Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie, Massive Attack, and La Femme.
High School math teacher and professional makeup artist Anike Oliver has been consulting on makeup. She prepared several tutorials to teach the actors how to apply their own makeup, both to create an aged look and also to create the best effect for the “stage”—or in this case, when filmed in front of their computer camera from home.
Ava Blum ’23 parlayed her grand prize from winning the English-Speaking Union (ESU) 2020 National Shakespeare Competition—a chance to study, virtually, with the British Drama Academy’s Norman Ayrton Shakespeare Program—into a presentation for the Hamlet actors full of tips and tricks for acting on camera. Among the various topics she covered, Ava discussed camera angles, lighting adjustments, and “playing to the camera.”
Now we invite you to take an immersive-but-brief peek behind the scenes in what might fairly be called a “dress rehearsal” for the virtual show. As the GDS theater company puts the finishing touches on the 75 Minute Hamlet, there are already beginning to plan for the Winter One Acts.
[Exit, pursued by a bear].