On November 4, Hart House will premiere tragedy: Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Dan Mousseau has landed the titular role. The actor is ready to showcase his interpretation of the famous character; in the midst of his busy schedule, Mousseau sat down with The Varsity to talk about his upcoming role.
The Varsity (TV): Are you nervous about opening night?
Dan Mousseau (DM): Yes. I’ve heard that if you’re nervous it means you care. It’s not bad to have some nerves, though. I try not to think about it so much; it’ll just come.
TV: How does Hamlet differ from other characters that you’ve played?
DM: [Hamlet] is a really interesting guy, because he thinks about absolutely everyone but he’s so focused on his own life at the same time. Usually there’s only a focus on a character that only wants one thing. He is just such a complex character and in a way you almost don’t have to act. With Hamlet its all there — you have to open yourself to interpretation and make it personal.
TV: Would you say that you found your passion in theatre?
DM: My passion started in Shakespeare. I did a few parody school shows when I was younger and it was one of the first musicals I did. It was fun and I loved it, it swayed me away from sports and then I started acting in the Kitchener Youth Theatre that only did Shakespeare. Later on I went to some summer camps in Stratford and did Shakespeare more intensively.
TV: How did your BFA at Ryerson prepare you for Hamlet?
DM: I did a whole term working on Shakespeare. At Ryerson we learned everything from voice work to different techniques. It kind of gave me like a tool belt which I’ve used a lot of.
TV: Have you found inspiration living in
DM: When I find myself in a massive group of people – which you often do in the city – I often stop and take a look at everyone. Everyone is always looking down or looking away. People really aren’t receptive in the city as much. With Hamlet, he seeks to bridge the gap between himself and the audience. It really emphasizes that we are all the same, and everyone is just as complex as I am.
TV: What is your acting process like?
DM: Lots of memorization. I’ve taken a lot from my own life. I think about my relationship with my family because that’s what the whole play is based around. I think about how I would feel if my dad died or if my mom did this – trying to find ways that I can fully make him and myself one. The more it affects me the more it affects Hamlet and the clearer it becomes to an audience. Making it real is the most important thing.
TV: How was your experience behind the scenes in Inertia [the dance piece you created]?
DM: Very different… I’m a huge control freak, and Inertia was a dance piece I created with a fellow student at Ryerson. I was working with dancers, so I threw myself in a totally unknown zone. My biggest obstacle was figuring out how I could communicate what I wanted to the people that don’t speak the same language as me.
TV: What has been your biggest obstacle?
DM: Being too much of a control freak. In school we did something called “clown,” where you stand in front of the class and do nothing, and by doing nothing you have to trust that you will be funny, or that something funny will come. This idea of trying not to control everything and letting it happen is terrifying.
TV: What roles do you prefer to play?
DM: I really enjoy doing characters like Hamlet that are troubled. I gravitate towards a sense of loss. I think that’s the most interesting to watch.
TV: Who is your biggest role model?
DM: I really look up to my parents, but in two different ways. My mom has a wonderful sense of compassion and my dad has this incredible drive and work ethic, and together they make the perfect human being. I strive to be more like them because they’re really incredible together.