Black Theatre Live


Raphael Sowole on playing Hamlet in Black Theatre Live's national tour

Actor Raphael Sowole tells us about playing the title role in Shakespeare's greatest Tragedy.

How did you first discover Shakespeare, was it an immediately life-changing moment or was it a slow burner?

I've always had a love for literature and so when I read a piece from Romeo and Juliet for the first time I was intrigued by the language. I was determined to understand what was being said .The first production I saw was a production of Othello directed by Declan Donnelan which I thought was fantastic. It was visceral, raw and somehow found I was able to understand everything that was being said on stage. Shakespeare is definitely meant to be performed not read.

How have you approached the role, did you have an immediate idea of how to play it or did it emerge gradually?

I found reading the play there were an infinite number of ways to approach the role but I went with what came organically reading with the other actors, what I felt I connected with in the text and through the discovery in the rehearsal process. It was very important for me to find my own interpretation of the role. With the help of the cast and creative team we've been able to find something.

Do you identify with Hamlet?

The character deals with abandonment, depression, loss and feelings of rage amongst others and I think to some varying degree we as human beings identify with these emotional experiences. Working with the imagination and Shakespeare’s words gives us the means to leapfrog into the circumstances of the character.

Tell us a bit about working with Jeffrey and Mark, are they different to other teams you’ve worked with?

It's been a wonderful experience working with them both. There's an incredible passion for the work and desire to create theatre that is alive. Which is something that resonates with me as an artist! They've created a fantastic atmosphere to discover and explore which is incredibly important with theatre. They have brought such an incredible wealth of experience to the process. I'm sure all involved will agree we have learnt so much in a such a short space of time.

What do you think audiences will take from the play?

I'd like to think audiences will take away several things; for me I hope they will have experienced theatre that's alive and will have felt they have engaged with the production on an emotional level. We hope the spirit of each and every character will resonate with the audiences.

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