Actor Jack Colgrave Hirst and ‘All Is True’ to William Shakespeare

ATM: So, you are intrigued by Shakespeare’s work.

JCH: Yes, I am.

ATM: I want to be different. You shall follow me. To be, or not to be, that is the question.

JCH:  Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer.

ATM: The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

JCH: And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep.

ATM: The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks.

JCH: You do know it.

ATM: What did writing truly mean to William Shakespeare?

JCH: Woah, this is a big question. You have to try to ask him. But from my perspective, the movie presents it as a thing he had to do. It was his outlet, trade, and passion. It was the way he expressed his feelings in the way that he could have done to his family or loved ones. He expressed his love and ideas through the plays and the stories.

ATM: How does William Shakespeare’s character influence your role and movement in the film?

JCH: Yes, it does. We both come from a quite small town. During this time, William Shakespeare was on the same kind of scale like Elvis Presley or Mick Jagger. He was popular like a rockstar. My character had a huge influence and felt the presence for him. My character is deeply in love with his daughter. He has a very overpowering presence in my life. I want to impress him and get on his side.

ATM: How did his traumatic past help influence his writer’s world?

JCH: From my perspective, just like a creator, musician, actor, or writer, anything that happens you tend to use them and reflect them through stories. He loses his son, Hamnet. The pain, regret, and the feeling of loss transcend into this play. A lot of his plays and stories about loss and loss of a loved one.

ATM: How could you as Jack and your character express Shakespeare’s imagination?

JCH: As me Jack the actor, Shakespeare’s work is relentless and it’s endless. I have been a professional actor for five years and have had the opportunity to work on five plays. I have read all of them but have not starred in all of them. It is a constant and ongoing negotiation. It is like a relationship with a beautiful woman. It is never quite figured out, you do not know where it is going, and there is a struggle. There are good and bad times. It is a constant engagement in something. This what makes it timeless. You can read Hamlet at 15 and it would still mean something to you at 29. You are engaged with them and your perspective is interchanging.

From the perspective of my character Thom, He admired the stories. They were written by a man that he knew in this own town. This was a man telling about many of the things on the planet during this time. This was his openness to love, vulnerability, and pain.

ATM: Shakespeare’s work is extraordinary and his mind.

JCH: No shit. He is the greatest to have ever walked this planet.

ATM: But do you think he was seriously aware of how amazing he was, or did he go with the flow of other’s perspectives of his work?

JCH: I think we are all kind of just going with the flow. From my perspective, it is hard to time. I would expect from the playwrights that I know now, they know when they wrote something good and when something is a bit of shit. I expect he was no different. He knew he was good and when he was not. I expect it because he was it for the reason very artist does it. He could not see himself doing anything else. If he would have been anything else, then he still would have done well. But his heart and soul were in telling stories. I have no idea of telling you whether he knew he was a genius. Probably not. He probably knew he was good, but I am not sure he knew he was the world’s greatest literary genius.

ATM: He would love and be grateful that his work is taught and still read today, but I feel he would be ultimately surprised. He would be surprised that his work is considered timeless.

JCH: And revered. It still means something.

ATM: Everyone creates things, but not all the things people create will be timeless. The timeless element can never probably resonate with a creator because they are in the work.

JCH: And because they are in the moment. Actors and writers are insecure. We have an ego. He would have needed to be told he was doing something right. I do not think he would have ever imagined 5000 years later people would still talk about his plays. How would he know this? How would anyone know this? I do not think he was writing in mind you and I 500 years later. He wrote because they came out of him.

ATM: Some people write to be great and to be timeless, but these particular people will never be perceived as timeless or great. A writer’s oblivion is the grandest. He was not thinking in the future, but only in the present.

JCH: It was also a trade. He was a way to put some food on the table. It was the same a butcher, farmer, or carpenter. He did this also to provide for his wife and to put food on the table. I think when he wrote he just put everything on the page. He had an uncontrollable imagination. He just excelled in it. Everyone has something they excel in. I could never tell you what was going through his mind because I never knew him. He has been gone for a very long time.

You can take any of his plays like Hamlet and set it in 1650 and now in 2019. It is still the same because things are about humanity and human beings. He captured human beings and human behavior in extreme circumstances. He understands human beings. They will never change despite of circumstances and situations changing. They are timeless because human beings, human nature, and human behavior are the same as they were back then and are the same now.

ATM: In the late 16th – 17th century, what could you reflect about the landscape, society, structures with the influences on your character and William Shakespeare?

JCH: People were very poor in England during this time. It was kind of how it is now. Today, there are a lot of people in East London living on the poverty line. There is a lot of poverty and a lot of rich people around. The technology was not the same. Shakespeare’s biggest insecure was his social status. He associated with people who were born into wealth and people who were born with absolutely nothing. He was one of the people who understood and could draw the line between them. He could drift through them. He could drink with the peasants but was highly respected by the wealthy people. He has an understanding. It was a different time. People either lived with extreme poverty or extreme wealth. He slid between these things or these worlds.

ATM: This sounds like the inner city in America.

JCH: He came from very humble beginnings. His father went to prison. His father was a convicted con man and thieve. He did not relate to his parents because he was a genius and it allowed him to get elevated in his social class. He always had a working-class chip on his shoulder, but he could never be accepted by the working class.

ATM: And his mother was the daughter of a farmer.

JCH: And his wife was illiterate. This was not a man who came from a great lineage of money and wealth. He was a very standard guy. This still rings true today. There is a divide between the rich and the poor. It is prevalent today, especially in the United States and in England.

ATM: In my country and in England, someone’s status more leans in the higher or in the lower class.

JCH: Yes, there quite extremes. There is a middle class in London. There are people who have absolutely everything and people who have absolutely nothing.

ATM: It is like the Haves and the Have Nots.

JCH: Yes.

ATM: This is a global issue.

JCH: Yes, capitalism has a real grip on people. Shakespeare did well in transcending this. Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark. He is someone of extreme wealth and privilege. But the things he goes through as a man and where Shakespeare takes him through in the play is something anyone from a working-class area in South London or a working-class area in downtown New York could relate to these human relations regardless of him being a Prince. It is the things that Hamlet goes through at a human being and as a man that makes him relatable. It is not his class.

ATM: He did not let the functions of society dictate his work. He did not let capitalistic elements reflect in his characters. Ophelia’s father was a nobleman, but she is a perception of a woman and the emotions of a woman. She was a very emotional character with volatile emotions.

JCH: Yes, absolutely. She comes from extreme abilities. Henry the 5th is a Prince. All the history plays are about history and people’s nobility. Romeo and Juliet come from money and class, but the plays are not about this. They are about human beings. This is why Shakespeare was a genius. There is a reader, audience, receiver to look at the human behavior. You can come from a piss poor environment or be the King of Denmark.

ATM: And in Twelfth Night and Winter’s Tale which comes from heartbreak, betrayal, love, and sexuality and cross-dressing and cross identifying.

JCH: Yes. His attributes to sexuality were enormously ahead of the time. Today, there is the whole issue with the transgender. These plays are full of men dressed as women and women dressed as men. There is a real sexual fluidity to all of it. It was quite incredibly advanced for the time when thinking about it.