early press

June 1, 2006

The Long Beach Press-Telegram has an article about summer Shakespeare in LA; they interviewed me for the piece and I'm quoted a bit talking about Hamlet. I've done a bunch of these over the last few years in LA, and more back in Berkeley when I was running Impact Theatre. Saying the right thing in a press interview is a real skill. If I don't prepare and take my time, I end up talking in long, run-on sentences, trying to impress the reporter with my enthusiasm. Which isn't the point — the point is to give easily digestible quotes hyping the show that the reporter can easily paste into the story. The real trick is to plan out more or less exactly what you want to say, and then just say it regardless of the questions the reporter asks. Hey, it works for politicians.

I tried to wing this one a bit, thinking that all the analysis I've done on the play would make it easy to answer any questions the reporter could come up with. Bad move — I ended up talking too much about my analysis and not enough about why people should come see the show. But it could have turned out a lot worse. Here's the excerpt from the paper:

Symbolism of another sort is on tap for "Hamlet."

Directed by Josh Costello, this is possibly Shakespeare's most famous play. Set in Denmark, it is the story of Prince Hamlet, who is in mourning for his father the king, who died suddenly. Hamlet is already upset that his uncle Claudius quickly took over the kingship and married the widowed queen. When he finds out his uncle was his father's murderer, he decides to take revenge. But getting that revenge is harder than it seems.

Costello is setting the show in the 1890s, or at the end of the industrial revolution.

"It really gets at the idea of change," he said, adding that Hamlet is put in a situation where he faces a lot of unwelcome change. "Claudius is changing everything."

Other than changing the time of the piece, Costello otherwise leaves it fairly traditional.

"I'm a big believer in Shakespeare, in that he knew what he was doing," Costello said.

I gave what was probably a more successful interview following the live television broadcast of my adaptation of The Rover on Orange County's PBS affiliate. I knew I would be completely overwhelmed (I had been in the television control room telling the TV director where the actors would be moving so he could call the camera shots), so I planned a few key points I wanted to hit about the play. The interviewer (Kitty Felde, a familiar voice in LA public radio) also asked a question that let me say something funny that I hadn't planned to bring up — I lucked out. Here's that clip.


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