To Be or Not to Be

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To Be or Not to Be

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Leo Ontiveros, Writer

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On Friday, January 11th, Hamlet, starring Mr. Magill, premiered. Mr. Magill’s performance was highly anticipated by many members of the Cistercian community. This was made evident by the number of clergymen that dotted the crowds at the Moody Theater that Friday. Some members of the Cistercian community who attended Mr. Magill’s performance included Fr. John, Fr. Gregory, Br. Benedict, Br. Francis, Br. Matthew, and Br. Zechariah. Fortunately, I too was able to witness Mr. Magill’s stellar performance.  The theater, of course, was also filled with a large number of people who were not affiliated with Cistercian.

In his stage combat elective, Mr Magill shared with us the large amount of complex stage combat that was going to be featured in the play.  Seeing him play the role of Hamlet and gasping at all the twists and suspense made it truly a night to remember.  The Sophomore Class viewed the production, and like most others who have viewed it, they had many laudatory remarks to make about it.

After witnessing Mr. Magill in Hamlet, I chose to interview Mr. Magill about what being in this theatrical production was like. When I asked Mr. Magill about how he ended up playing the part of Hamlet, he responded with, “I was chosen by Raphael Parry. Playing Hamlet would be a dream role for all actors. So, of course, I was overjoyed when I was asked to play the part.” Another important question I asked was, “What was the hardest part about playing the main character in this play, or in plays in general?” He answered, “A lot of lines.  I was given the script very early in order to be off-book during rehearsals. It was the first indoor production [of Hamlet] in Dallas, so I wanted it to be good. Another thing was that people have an idea of who Hamlet is; it was a big responsibility to live up to that and yet make it my own.”

Another question I asked Mr. Magill was, “Is there any advice that you would give to Cistercian students who are aspiring thespians?” He responded, “Don’t shy away from hard work. Improvisation is fun, but you have to take acting seriously. Acting doesn’t just involve acting itself; there are a lot of other things to master as well. You have to read plays, memorize monologues, practice voices, and spread yourself onto other genres. Overall, be in plays! Like everything else, being a good actor does not involve shortcuts.”
I also thought it would be interesting to know what genre of plays Mr. Magill prefers. He told me, “I generally don’t have a preference; to me, a good production has a mix of genres. For example, comedy has to have dramatic elements to have a good story. Tragedies are great when some scenes are slightly comedic. What makes a play great is a mix of genres. For example in Hamlet [a tragedy], there were some comedic scenes as well. I especially love Shakespeare for his expertise in mixing genres together. There needs to be a human element to make characters relatable. A character can’t just be all funny or the play would just be bland. A play I did, “She Stoops to Conquer,” was a comedy that had dramatic themes in it too; that was what made the story relatable and the characters human.”

I believe that we all feel very blessed that Mr. Magill has set aside some of his time to work at Cistercian and lead the aspiring actors of our school on the right path. Thank you, Mr. Magill, for all of your hard work, and for your incredible performance in Hamlet.

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