Alex Hyde-White dishes about his 'Three Days (of Hamlet)' to screen at PB international Film Festival
Not many people would be crazy enough to mount a staged reading of Hamlet in three days. Alex Hyde-White not only directed and starred in the reading, he also filmed it.
Add to those stresses that he'd never directed a film before, and you might expect Hyde-White to be unwinding in a mental health facility. Instead, he is proudly screening his film, Three Days (of Hamlet), during the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
Hyde-White is the son of the late British character actor Wilfrid Hyde-White, who is best known for portraying Col. Pickering in the 1964 movie My Fair Lady.
He chose Hamlet — a classic father-son play — partly to deal with his ambivalent feelings about his father and partly because he's always loved the play.
His Dad was in his mid-50s when Alex Hyde-White was born. He was "not the classic Montessori father," Hyde-White said.
Family friend Stephanie Powers, who plays Gertrude in the film, described him as "stubborn, difficult and emotionally distant." Fortunately, his father's sense of humor made up for his harsher traits, Hyde-White said.
Hyde-White, whose mother also was a theater professional, grew up backstage and on movie and television sets. He followed his father's footsteps into acting, which has been his career for 30 years.
He recalls accompanying his father as a child when the elder Hyde-White performed in 1972 at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in The Pleasure of His Company with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., in 1974 in The Jockey Club Stakes and in 1976 in Not in the Book.
Hamlet can run up to 51/2 hours in its unabridged form. Hyde-White shaved a few pages from the script, but the project was still a mammoth undertaking.
"I wanted to do something out of the box that had never been done before,."
The movie mixes rehearsal and performance segments with Hyde-White reminiscing about his father, and scenes of the director and the actors reflecting on the play and the near-chaotic process.
Among those sharing their thoughts is Richard Chamberlain, who plays Polonius. He was one of 3,000 applicants for three parts Hyde-White advertised online.
Cramming so much into three days might not have produced the most polished version of Hamlet, but it paid off in other ways, Hyde-White said. "If we had more time, it would not have been as rich. It was the urgency that fueled the production."
Richard Chamberlain Online