Hamlet: The Praiseworthy Production

Sophie Tay

On November 19th and 20th, the Manhasset High School Theatre Department performed Hamlet—the iconic story written by William Shakespeare. From the beginning, the students looked forward to participating in such an exciting event and were prepared to invest the many hours necessary to make the play spectacular.

It all started with auditions that “started even before the school year started,” Emma K. Cheung, an actor in Hamlet, recalled. “After the cast list came out and the school year started, rehearsals began.” Mr. Fessler (better known as “Fess”), the school’s theater teacher and director of Hamlet, commented that callbacks were unnecessary because he had already seen everything he needed for casting. 

Putting on any play, let alone one written by Shakespeare, comes with challenges, but Cheung looks back fondly on the process: “Now, the language was very difficult so it was definitely hard, but for a Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet was a lot of fun. There were a lot of moments before, during, and after the show where everyone can look back and laugh.”

Rehearsals were long and strenuous but necessary to make the performance as high quality as possible. Even if the time spent in rehearsals was fun, Cheung vividly remembers them “ranging anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours, some going as late as 11 pm.”

“Even though I didn’t have many scenes, it was still exhausting,” said Sammy Petras, another actor in Hamlet, who elaborated on how tasking a play is for everyone involved.

Because she did not have many scenes, Sammy helped with the costume-making. She commented that “it was mandatory to help with the production in some way.” Costumes were just one of the infinite activities that went on behind the scenes. From Set Crew and Running Crew to Sound Crew and Lighting Crew, everybody needed to get their job done properly and effectively to have the play run as close to perfect as it could get. Every individual plays a crucial part in the production, which makes for a wonderful play. 

Time went on, and eventually, it was the week before the performanceor “Hell Week” as Cheung puts it. “Rehearsals would last until 9 pm or later, leaving little time for sleep or schoolwork.” It was so intense that the “cast and crew would often ask for extensions on work and tests.”

Luckily, the suffering endured during Hell Week was well worth it, as their performance was incredible. Viewers enjoyed it very much, the acting was outstanding, and the preparations from the crew looked wonderful. The hard work put into this play very clearly paid off in the end.

Petras commented on the crew’s journey, “It’s really interesting seeing a whole production being prepared in a short amount of time, and there’s nothing like opening night adrenaline.”