What Happens Between Hamlet and Ophelia is one of the great enigmas of Shakespeare’s great work, rich in them. Laurence Olivier tells in his memoirs that, when asked if Hamlet and Ofelia go to bed, a theatrical entrepreneur, director and main actor replied: “In my company, always.” The actress and singer Elena Tarrats (Badalona, Barcelona, about to turn 28) has had to consider her identity and what moves someone who seemed destined to be a princess of Denmark by embodying Ofelia in a new montage of Hamlet that the director Oriol Broggi and his company LaPerla29 represent in Barcelona.
Ask. You have a very pre-Raphaelite air about you.
Answer. Very what?
P. The painters, the brotherhood … With that hair and those dark blue eyes I could be a model of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Millais …
R. Ah, yes, I know the painting of Ophelia drowned. All those beautiful images, those romantic and symbolic explanations. I don’t know if that would empower her. I prefer to see her in another way, a semi-witch who knows the effects of plants and collects them and turns into a tree, into flowers, into earth. It transforms into nature. Somehow it empowers itself. It’s an inspiring way of looking at it. You cannot see her only as the passive victim of history, especially today.
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P. What happens to Ofelia?
A. One of the hits is that he can’t live his life. Their drives are governed by what people think they should be. You cannot satisfy your real desire. It is something that makes you lose your balance, your mental health. And if your boyfriend also kills your father … that is the great trigger, the psychotic super outbreak. She loses those she loves, her father, Hamlet, brother Laertes who leaves, and she loses herself. His madness, however, has something liberating about it. It is very complex; there are doctoral theses on Ophelia.
P. To cut to the chase: do you sleep with Hamlet? Ophelia I mean …
R. For me, of course, De virgen has nothing. I am a woman of the 21st century and it bothers me that our wild part is cut, that there are still taboos about our sexuality and vital desires. And do you know what I say? Ofelia is pregnant; It has more chicha to think about it, it gives more play. There are signs in the work: the mention of rue in his hands, an abortive plant. Shakespeare knew a lot about plants; there is nothing casual about Shakespeare. Thinking about those things makes you give a more passionate Ophelia, not so ethereal. It is also a carnal creature.
Q. What does Ophelia think of Hamlet?
R. That the clamp has gone, his lover, his friend, who is gone. He does weird things, and she wants to help him. She is a good person, not naive or silly or innocent but good. She is not superwoman and feels guilty when people like her father interpret that Hamlet has gone mad with love for her. It’s business as usual: it’s your miniskirt’s fault.
Q. Does Hamlet abuse Ophelia?
A. Yes. Hamlet has misogynistic attitudes. He mistreats women: Ophelia, his mother.
Q. What do you think of the accusations of abuse launched against Lluís Pasqual and Joan Ollé?
A. We do not want abusers in the profession. Do not accept abuse in the name of genius and authority. In this profession it is not necessary to suffer.
Q. Would you fall in love with Hamlet?
R. Damn, I don’t know. I would stop Hamlet’s feet. A lot of work has to be done. Today I would go to the psychologist. That pride, the philosophy … If Hamlet is not worked, it is dangerous.
P. Ofelia drowns.
A. It is a suicide; They hide it so they can bury it more or less well. Suicide is not something for the weak. You have to speak with great caution about youth suicide, but face that something also smells rotten in our world as in Elsinor, and that young people today have many problems. The world is an out-of-tune orchestra that must be tuned.
Q. Did Shakespeare steal Ophelia’s wallet by killing off the scene?
R. The truth, I appreciate not having to drown on stage. I do not miss it.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.