My Hamlet means everything to me

7 Sep

an interview with Viktorija Stepanovska who played Ophelia in Dejan Projkovski’s Hamlet

Kaja: Your Hamlet is in some ways referring to the modern history, is that right?
Viktorija: Our Hamlet is a reflection of what happens today, not only in Macedonia, but also in the world. At the press conference someone asked: “Is it a reflection of Macedonia today?”  Hamlet is too great to deal with daily political affairs, that’s what I like about this play. Hamlet is much more significant, it is relevant to what is happening globally today, it gives people hope that they can change the world.

K: The play was very complex on many levels. At first it gave the audience a taste of post-apocalyptic atmosphere, which was created by the opening scene with the naked guards, and then there was that scene where Polonius was washing them, which seemed to be war-related.
V: Well, those scenes referred to the fact that all those people do not have identity, and the king is deciding who is who. That is the arbitrary rule of the dictator, and it speaks about the current situation in which Hamlet lives.

K: Your part was very challenging. As Ophelia you have to face a lot of extreme situations and experience various states of mind. I was wondering how you managed to make it your role, this must have been hard to do.
V: This may sound like a cliché , but I don’t think I’m just playing, pretending to be Ophelia. It has been a really emotional process for me and I can say that during every performance, I am experiencing Ophelia’s feelings. I’ve always wanted to play Ophelia one day. Some people say: “ It is amazing how you can find the balance during the madness scenes”. They ask many questions about my character, but with our team, our director, and our great Hamlet, it was not difficult at all. After some time of rehearsing the play and thinking about the role, playing Ophelia happened naturally. If you try hard enough and search deep inside yourself, you can find a genuine connection with your character and when the audience watches you, they realize  that it’s real, it’s not faking.


K: It seemed to be real, especially the very complicated relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia. How did the two of you get to the point where you got that special connection?
V: There was an audition for Ophelia. I went there and I do not even know how many girls were auditioning for Ophelia, too many. When there are so many talented actresses fighting for the same role, you do not have too high expectations. But when I went on the stage, Dejan, the director, gave us a scene between Hamlet and Ophelia and something happened there, something clicked, there was some chemistry that connected us as partners – actors. During the rehearsals it was growing deeper, and it is not something you can have with any partner, but here, it just happened, the audience can feel that, and I am really proud of it.

K: How did your ‘Shakespeare adventure’ start?
V: I first did Shakespeare when I was in college. Ophelia isn’t my first Shakespearean role, but it’s the most important one, the one to which I gave myself in. I really hope that I get a chance to work on many Shakespearian plays, and this ‘’adventure’’ never stops.

K: So in many ways being in the play and living Shakespeare makes you understand him better?
V: Well, I don’t believe that there’s any human being on earth that will not fall in love with Shakespeare while working on his play. Everything he has written is complex on many levels, and it makes you explore more and more. During every performance, I’m discovering something new about my character, something new that Shakespeare wanted to say. But I don’t think there is a person that knows it all about Shakespeare, he was a genius, and he is still in a way alive.

K: What does Hamlet mean to you, not only as a text, but also as your performance and a human being?

V: Hamlet is one of the saddest and most beautiful stories ever written. It teaches us about life, that we have to go further, and try harder. That we have to love infinitely and unconditionally, and to fight for the ones we love. To Ophelia, Hamlet means her whole life. This role has made me more mature, both as a person and as an actress. I really enjoy playing Ophelia.  After every performance I feel extremely tired, but at the same time full of joy. The applause and cheers from the audience are giving me strength, and I feel as I can play it again and again, million times, with no break between performances. The moments like the one I just described are those that fulfill me, and remind me how much I love what I do.



pictures: Greg Goodale


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