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“To Be or Not to Be”

Senior takes the stage in professional production

By Elizabeth Rasich     8/27/19 10:08pm

Despite interning at an electricity broker over the summer, Will Grimme spent much of his time thinking about a time and a place where electricity didn’t exist: Hamlet’s kingdom. 

Through the Sankofa Collective, a Texas performing arts non-profit, he was preparing to act in an adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play set in Lagos, Nigeria. For a weekend in August, Grimme, a Will Rice College senior, played Fortinbras, a crown prince who (spoiler alert) takes control of the country after all the other leaders have died.

“I had some awesome speeches at the end surrounded by the bodies of all the other characters,” Grimme said. “It's always fun to play the villain, Shakespeare villains especially.”

This isn’t Grimme’s first time on the stage, or the screen. He started acting in film and TV when he was in elementary school and transitioned to theater in high school. At Rice, he’s stayed active in the theater scene and is planning to be involved in a musical parody of “Hamlet” this spring. His performance in BakerShake’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” led to the production’s director, Alric Davis, recommending he audition for “Hamlet.” 

“It was pretty cool to be connected to someone in the Houston theatre scene through Rice, and I'm glad it led me to my first professional theatre production,” Grimme said.

Grimme particularly enjoys theatrical acting because of the longer rehearsal process. 

“In TV and film, you will often get the scene you’re doing the morning of and only have several takes to build the final project,” Grimme said. “In theatre, there’s an entire rehearsal process to discuss the play, build a character and work with the other actors to make something great onstage.”

That rehearsal process was fairly short in the case of “Hamlet: Prince of Lagos,” according to Grimme. 

“We chose to do the show with little to no set, so most of the process was just learning lines and simple blocking — pretty straightforward,” Grimme said. 

They debuted the play two weeks ago at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston, an arts and performance venue shared by a number of theater and arts groups. 

But Grimme’s summer wasn’t all about Hamlet. He’s double majoring in visual and dramatic arts with a film concentration  and mathematical economic analysis, and he put his second major to good use this summer in his internship at Energy Ogre. 

“Most of the work I did this summer was using huge datasets to understand how people use electricity,” Grimme said. “We take our clients’ electricity usage and pick electricity plans for them using analysis of their usage activity.”

Since he was working full-time, he had to fit in rehearsals after work and on the weekends.

“It’s definitely difficult being a working actor,” Grimme said. “You kind of have to catch free time where you can.”

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