Oscar Nominee Ruth Negga Says Doing Hamlet is About Dropping All Artifice

Interview   Oscar Nominee Ruth Negga Says Doing Hamlet is About Dropping All Artifice
 
The star of the upcoming St. Ann's Warehouse production Off-Broadway prepares to return to the iconic role.

Next month, Oscar nominee Ruth Negga will make her New York City stage debut in the celebrated Gate Theatre Dublin production of Hamlet, directed by Yaël Farber at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. Following her acclaimed turn in the Dublin world premiere, Negga returns to the title role in William Shakespeare’s drama of politics, vengeance, madness, and murder.

With Hamlet beginning previews February 1, the Oscar nominee answers six of our questions about the production, what it means to take on such an iconic role, and why she loves the stage.

Welcome back to the theatre! Is there something you get from the stage that you don’t necessarily get from working in film and television?

Ruth Negga and Rory Kinnear
Ruth Negga and Rory Kinnear

Ruth Negga: Arc. Everything’s in order. You get another crack at it each night. The sheer terror of it being live. The alchemy: that particular night, that particular audience, etc. It means nothing is ever the same. Also, I get deeper and deeper into my role through the run. Discover more and more.

What do you love about Hamlet, the text?
Gosh where to start. In a nutshell... Hamlet articulates what it is to be alive: It strips bare everything and asks life’s essential questions.

Was there anything about Hamlet as a character that made you go, "Yes, I can bring truth to this!"?
I think in a way, it challenges you to bring yourself to the role entirely. It has a funny way of not letting you get away with a “performance”… with artifice. It’s about dropping all the masks that we acquire with life.

What excites you about Yaël Farber’s vision for this production?
She understands the need to speak truth to power through art. Art has borne witness throughout history.... Antigone to public enemy.

Can you describe the kind of art, whether it be theatre, film, fiction or something else, that really lights you up?
Commitment.

What’s one thing you’re really looking forward to doing in New York City while you’re here?
Doing Hamlet is my New York City debut... doesn’t get much more exciting than that. Although I love walking around this city.... It’s so darn cool!


Hamlet will continue performances at St. Ann's through March 8. An ensemble of leading Irish actors joins Negga in the production, made up of Fiona Bell, Gavin Drea, Aoife Duffin, Nick Dunning, Peter Gaynor, Steve Hartland, Mark Huberman, Will Irvine, Gerard Kelly, Barry McKiernan, Shane O’Reilly, Owen Roe, and Gerard Walsh. Read more about the production here.

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