“More things in Heaven and Earth” About Hamlet and Horatio
Hamlet/McKeogh: “We talked a lot about how these two guys found each other as outsiders, Hamlet being the prince of Denmark in an incredibly powerful, nefarious family, Horatio as a young black man in the Jim Crow North/Pre-Civil Right’s era. They are both outsiders who have to wear a lot of social masks in order to survive in their own world as well as the society in which they inhabit. I think they bonded over that.”
Horatio/Pogue: “We had group conversations about these two characters and their relationship. Michael McKeogh and I might have slightly different backstories for our characters, but we’ve established collectively is that Hamlet and Horatio are two college gents of the highest sophistication. They ignite each other with verbal discourse. They probably didn’t know each other before college, but the time spent together there was intense in mental stimulation.”
OPFT: Much is made both by Shakespeare’s characters and his scholars of Hamlet’s madness. Of this Michael McKeogh replied:
Hamlet/McKeogh: “Hamlet’s ‘madness” derives from the sudden and sobering realization that his life is a lie. It reminds me in a way of the movie The Trueman Show. There is a gamesmanship quality in Hamlet too and so when his entire world is conspiring to keep up the lie, he uses his perceived ‘madness’ to outmaneuver and throw the lie back in the face of those who are deceiving him. I played Hamlet back in 2001 at Michigan State University when I was 21. I feel pretty lucky to be able to come back to him after having lived a bit.”
OPFT: The opening moments of this production belong to Horatio, a major departure from traditional productions. This new opening has won great praise. Director Lavina Jadwahni was working with a cutting which not only gave the lines usually spoken in the final seconds by Fortinbras (a character completed missing from this production) to Horatio, but also uses them to bookend the play. The arresting, dynamic, personal delivery of them is something which Michael Pogue created.
Horatio/Pogue: “The opening was something I kinda stumbled upon. It was a way to connect emotionally to the character and liberate myself from the iambic pentameter scansion.”
OPFT: The audience learns what Hamlet has been doing while away in England, but where has Horatio been in Hamlet’s absence. Things cannot have been too easy for him in Claudius’ empire.
Horatio/Pogue: “There was a huge belief in several groups that alcohol consumption caused demonic behavior – wickedness. My character only drinks on one occasion in the show, but I try to keep that in mind.”
OPFT: Another influential background is not historical but environmental— performing out of doors.
Horatio/Pogue: “This is not my first time performing outdoors. I did a couple of shows in a Shakespeare repertory a few summers ago. That was my first time. Though I wouldn’t describe myself as outdoorsy, performing outside is amazing. Your lungs taking in fresh air as you perform is very gratifying.”