Leah DeWalt (Ophelia)‘s Indy credits
include the Indiana Repertory Theatre
(Dracula, A Christmas Carol- U/S performed),
WisdomTooth and IndyShakes (Perdita in
A Winter’s Tale), and EclecticPond Theatre
Company (Brutus in Julius Caesar) to name
a few. Previous work with ActingUp Productions
include Muddy in Nevermore and a soloist in
An Evening of Sondheim Cabaret. She studied
Theatre and music at Anderson University,
and she currently performs with the
ActOut Ensemble. Shortly after closing this
Shakespeare tragedy you can see Leah in
Oklahoma! at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre.
Tell us about the character you are portraying in Hamlet:
I’m playing Ophelia. In our production, she’s the daughter and second child of a top adviser to the President of the United States. She grew up immersed in politics, so she is perfectly trained in appearances, decorum, and leading a double life. She’s also in a relationship with the President’s daughter….
How are you like Ophelia and how are you different?
Ophelia and I both know how to keep up a front under certain circumstances and how to drop it in others. As a daughter of a major political figure, her actions have a much bigger impact than mine. She also has much more money than I do. We also both have big brothers that would legitimately kill someone if anything happened to us. So watch out.
What do you love (and hate) about your character?
I don’t hate anything about her. I have tremendous sympathy for the way in which she gets caught in the middle of this political game. She doesn’t tread on anyone’s toes or take revenge or undermine anything, and yet she is negatively affected by almost every relationship in the play. I love her relationship with her brother (played by my real life “brother from another mother” Adam Tran), and I also love how strongly she loves. She allows herself to be so connected to those she cares about that she Can. Not. Bear. to have them ripped away from her.
What do you think will surprise people about AUP’s “The Tragedy of Hamlet”?
Well first of all Hamlet is a woman, and so is Ophelia. This production does a lovely job of exploring that without making it a divergent plot point or a huge political statement. Also the fight choreography by Scott Russell is phenomenal and still surprises me every time I watch those scenes. I think Lauren’s portrayal of Hamlet will show people how naturally a Shakespeare character can be played, and how relate-able a 400 year old story can be.
Why did you want to be involved in this production?
A few reasons: I admire Brian as a big-picture director; this is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays but I have never performed in it nor seen it fully staged; Ophelia is such a beautiful compelling role that anyone would be honored to play, and she is given a whole new level of depth (in my opinion) when you remove the gender block from the original casting (aka: with a male Hamlet, all the men are cruel to her eventually).
What makes a good scene partner?
Someone who will keep their responses fresh and honest no matter what you throw at them in rehearsal, and also someone who will bring fresh takes and full passion to each scene- to give you the chance to explore your own character’s range of responses.
Tell us about another cast member and what you enjoy about working with them.
Well, most of my onstage time is with Lauren, and she embodies the characteristics I’ve listed above. This process has been enriched by working with someone who I know I can trust to take any ride alongside me in a scene, and simultaneously challenge me to follow wherever her impulses take us.
What was your very first stage production?
I started dancing onstage when I was 4, my first speaking role was in church around age 9, and by the time I was 11 my ‘church drama’ leader had chosen a kids’ play with a full on child-diva character trying to take over the Christmas pageant…chosen just for yours truly. Surprised?
Who or what inspires you?
Calm people. Those who find the goodness in every moment. Who can love without reservations. Also Ronn Johnstone for his impeccable insight into moment-to-moment acting work and Amy Hayes for her passion in everything.
When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Filling out my Meisner scene work info on the back of my script pages. It’s a new technique for me and I’m giving it a test run. Also drinking water and putting on bug repellent.
What is the last thing you do before you step out on stage?
Usually take a deep inhale that is filled to the brim with the moment I’ve decided my character has RIGHT BEFORE she steps on stage.
What would you tell someone who has never seen live Shakespeare about why they should come to this production?
Shakespeare was never meant to be read it was meant to be performed!!! Come WATCH the story unfold and LISTEN to actors who have prepared the lines and their meanings and THEN tell me how boring and confusing and meaningless Shakespeare is! Also, this production has guns, swords, and kissing. That’s enough for me to see any live show.
The Tragedy of Hamlet will be presented Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., July 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 (Sunday rain dates 13, 20, 27) at the outdoor Allen Whitehill Clowes Amphitheater on the campus of Marian University, 3200 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Tickets may be purchased below or by calling the AUP box office at 317-207-2135 or online at http://2bornot2b.bpt.me/. Audience members will want to bring blankets or chairs. Candy, popcorn, soda and water will be provided for sale. The Tragedy of Hamlet is a summer production you won’t want to miss.