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Meet a Cast Member: Amir Abdullah

Meet Amir Abdullah! Amir plays Claudius in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and the Court Marketing Team caught up with him to discuss the production, his role, and what he loves about the theatre. For a show that’s all about the joy of performance, this conversation is the perfect chance to look behind the curtain and meet one of the performers bringing Tom Stoppard’s modern masterpiece to life.

A person looks at the camera.

What inspired you to become an actor?

I became an actor by way of my parents encouraging me constantly to read and read out loud. There was never a day when I asked to go to the library that they didn’t take me. Reading aloud developed into a skill that was then honed by my drama teachers in high school. I went in thinking that drama would be a fun elective, but they took me under their wing and encouraged me in a way that no other teachers had. They made me believe that I could do something special with this talent, that I could positively impact people.  

What drew you to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?

At first, it was the surface level things: I get to be at the acclaimed Court Theatre; getting to perform professionally is alway a privilege; and the play is a modern classic – Shakespeare is intimately involved and I get to speak much of his text, so that always gets my creative juices flowing and really stimulates my analytical powers. Yet, looking deeper, I became attracted to the themes: the meaning of our existence, what we leave behind when our time is up here, and how to live for a higher purpose. These are are all things that keep me up at night and challenge me daily, but, in this play, they are faced with humor. This is a fascinating way of looking at these otherwise challenging themes.

Are there any parallels between yourself and your role? 

I play Claudius, a king who has murdered his brother and married his ex-sister-in-law to inherit the throne, so I’d like to think that – situationally – there’s little of me to draw from. But then, if you look deeper at the parallels in life, and you see what people do for success, and fame, and money, and power, and you realize that even those we’re close to are capable of some of the worst acts. I actively try to check my ego to make sure I do not resemble Claudius in those ways. In my interpretation of Claudius, I move from a place of regret to fix the wrongs I’ve perpetrated. This man has ruined his family and is faced with the consequences; he has to grapple with a trail of blood.  That is a tough thing to be confronted with, even if it’s your own doing.  

What is remarkable about this production?

The creative way that we’ve included the Ensemble as vessels of spirituality is a clever choice; it makes the Ensemble deeper than just a merry band that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern encounter. We may be supporting characters, but we truly affect their path. There are also clever design elements, including costumes, lights, shadow, and sounds that are going to be unique for an audience. But I don’t want to spoil too much!

One of the themes of this production is the joy of theatre-making and the joy of theatricality. What aspect of theatre brings you the most joy? 

The experience of Opening Night is always special. The audience is the final component of the expression of the art – without the audience, there is no impact beyond these walls. This work has the opportunity to spark conversation, action, and change in perspectives and perceptions. Feeling the energy, the emotion, and the appreciation – there is nothing like live performance!

See Amir in action! Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead runs from March 29 – April 21. Tickets are available online or by calling the Box Office at (773) 753-447.

Posted on March 26, 2024 in Productions

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