Looking for Shakespeare 2015: Reflections on Hamlet

By Carly McGehee

“Who’s there?”, this famous line, which marks the opening of Hamlet, was indeed the question on my mind as I began my journey along with 13 fellow graduate students and 20 high school students from all over the country in Looking for Shakespeare. As a professional actor, I have spent many years studying and performing Shakespeare, but had yet to be involved with a production with high school students. I was excited to learn about, and from, this diverse group of students and anxious to learn who they were. What I did not expect, however, was vast knowledge I would gain from observing and working among my fellow graduate students.

Hamlet cast picture.

Much like the high school ensemble, the Graduate students came from all walks of life. Some were experienced theatre teachers, others, like myself, were just beginning the road to becoming educators. Many had extensive backgrounds in performing, while others had vast knowledge in Shakespeare as dramatic literature.

Hamlet image - Laertes and Hamlet.

The hours were long. Some days were harder than others. I found myself constantly second guessing myself. In those moments of uncertainty, I turned to my colleagues and was met with support and advice. What I thought were classmates soon turned  into mentors and friends. It was in these moments of confusion that I took a step back, listened, observed, and discovered a part of myself that would still be lost if not for those trying times.

Hamlet image - Hamlet and Ophelia.

None of these learning moments would have happened without our director and professor, Jonathan Jones. He recognized the diverse and rich talents amongst our group and utilized them to the fullest potential. His gentle guidance helped each of us discover a new part of who we are as educators, and produced a piece of art that we, high school and graduate school alike, had never before experienced.

Hamlet image - the ghost.