The production took place before the conversion of the Mile End Road theatre site and theatrically ‘christened’ the building.
Frances de la Tour played Hamlet at Half Moon Theatre when it moved from Alie Street to the Mile End Road. It was a promenade production which took part in a ‘rough’ building, with set and costume design, that echoed the decay happening in the play. She talks about her gender not making a difference to playing the role, with the exception of one performance when she had to stop the play.
Rob Walker was Artistic Director of Half Moon Theatre in the later 1970s and early 1980s in Alie Street and on the Mile End Road. He talks about deciding to do Hamlet as the first play in the theatre on Mile End Road and how Frances de la Tour played the title role in a promenade production, as a ‘woman playing a man’.
Actor Debra Baker talks about how she was among a group of local children selected to appear in Half Moon Theatre’s production of Hamlet. She outlines her memories of the production and the impact it had on her subsequent career. Interviewed by Georgina Da Silva.
Lee Rogers was Chair of Trustees at the time the Half Moon shifted from its Alie Street theatre to new premises on the Mile End Road. He recalls the very first production in the new venue, which featured Frances de la Tour playing Hamlet and Maggie Steed as Gertrude. Interviewed by Keira Blasse and Isabel R.
Mick Bearwish is a theatre designer who worked on many productions for Half Moon Theatre at Alie Street and on the Mile End Road. He talks about Hamlet and how he went out with the stage management team and ‘found’ items to make the set, some from the old docks. He recalls an incident during the show when Simon Callow set off a fire extinguisher. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.
Theatre designer Iona McLeish worked on many productions at Half Moon Theatre at Alie Street and on the Mile End Road. She talks about designing the costumes for Hamlet, the first production in the Mile End Road theatre. She remembers a late night session in the building when Mick Bearwish, the designer, had an encounter with a circular saw! Interviewed by Toni Tsaera.
Actor, Robin Soans talks about performing in Hamlet at Half Moon Theatre on Mile End Road. He recalls rehearsing the production at the same time as he was performing in a double bill at the theatre in the evening. He talks about the fabulous set and costume designs which were created out of ‘found’ objects and clothing from charity shops. Interviewed by Toni Tsaera.
Working at the Half Moon was a pivotal moment in my young formation – I was 18 and living in an anarchist community in Islington at the time, and that, accompanied by being exposed to all the social conditions, degradation, abuse, child negligence that I observed in the East End, had a huge impact on my view of the world and my place in it. And also my belief in the power of culture to help improve society, and make people more aware and sensitive. But I’ll never forget the kids I worked with in the HMYPT – they were loving, enjoyed the workshops, and found some refuge from at times quite vulnerable and abusive family conditions. On one occasion I orangised a trip to Kew Gardens for the Bangladeshi children – many had never been out of the East End (that’s why I proposed the outing)… they were so overjoyed with all the greenery, flowers, trees…it was such a very beautiful day!