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Ophelia Thinks Harder

Ophelia Thinks Harder

By Jean Betts and Wm Shakespeare
Directed by Ivana Palezevic

By Arrangement with Playmarket

Auditions: 22-23 February 2020

Performances: 13 May – 23 May 2020

Are you a Shakespeare buff who loves Hamlet?  Or are you new to Shakespeare and want an accessible way in?  Do you just want to be part of a quirky play full of larger than life characters and outrageous moments of comedy?  Maybe you want a chance to challenge some gender politics?

If you said ‘yea’ to any of these, read on.


Ophelia Thinks Harder is a classic New Zealand text and is frequently performed and studied around the country and overseas.  Its messages and questions about the expectations of women still remain to this day and feels timely for the 2020 season.  The play offers a wonderful and strong set of roles for both women and men.  There will also be major doubling in this show, so there are no small parts!


The once ignored and voiceless ornament for Hamlet, now encounters ignored ghosts, quirky actors, witches wanting the vote, Joan of Arc, a long-suffering maid and a bunch of other well- known characters, who make Ophelia think harder.

Come on a roller coaster ride of a different kind.  You think you know Hamlet, but this ain’t about him.  This time, Ophelia gets the best lines and no one is going to stand in her way.  Not even that stupid Virgin Mary up there.  Yeah, you!

Ophelia Thinks Harder takes our iconic play and puts on a funny, naughty, yet insightful reimagining to shine some light on the women who stand in the background.


Auditions will be held on Saturday 22 February and Sunday 23 February at Toi Poneke with call backs on Monday 24 February and Tuesday 25 February 2020.

Auditions will be in small groups and will involve:

  • A piece of text from the play sent to you in advance
  • A piece of text from the play on the day
To book an audition time, please email Andrea at with the following information:
  • a contact number
  • a recent headshot (phone photos are fine if you don’t have a headshot)
  • which date and times of day you can’t do (between Saturday 9am–5pm or Sunday 9am 5pm)

Please note this show contains intimate scenes and verbally and physically abusive behaviour.  For further information please contact Andrea.


Rehearsals will be held from Thursday 5 March and will generally be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7.30-9.30pm and Sundays from 3pm to 6pm.  Once we are in the theatre, days/hours will be extended.


  • OPHELIA: The protagonist who goes on an epic journey of self-discovery and faces many obstacles along the way, including her lover! This is a physically demanding role for a performer who will be on stage for the majority of the show. Some Shakespeare experience or background preferable. (20s but playing age is late teens)
  • MAID: Maid tends to Ophelia but is torn between her duty to make Ophelia a ‘proper’ woman and helping her see she is worth more. Then there is the matter of how everybody else treats Maid. It all results in one epic scene of madness! This is a fantastic role with many emotional layers and requires a performer who can handle quick intentional changes (sometimes in a single text). Also will be one of the Players. (20s-40s)
  • QUEEN: The lady who rules in our patriarchal society. For our older female performers, this role is such a treat! She is crafty, over the top and always gets what she wants. And did we mention she has some of the most bad-ass speeches in the whole play? A role fit for a queen. (Late 30s plus)
  • HAMLET: Good night sweet, iconic prince. Good morning dastardly, manipulative and misogynist prince. This is also a physically demanding role for an experienced male performer who wants a challenge in balancing dangerous with ridiculous. Who says playing the bad guy isn’t fun? (20s-30s)
  • HORATIO: The loyal companion at Hamlet’s side torn between duty and what’s morally right when they see how Hamlet treats Ophelia. Or is there something deeper going on? Much like the Maid, Horatio is a wonderful and important role for a male performer. Also will be one of the Players. (20s-30s)
  • ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN: are not dead. In fact, this play makes them key messengers and guides for Ophelia throughout the show. These roles require two female performers with good comedic timing. They also play various roles between them, including Joan of Arc, Ophelia’s Mother and the Players. So they have a lot of stage time! (20s-40s)
  • LAERTES: Brother to Ophelia, Laertes is a protective, clueless and traditional male who gets into obscure fights with Hamlet. Did we also mention he has one of the funniest and most memorable lines in the whole play? This role will also be one of the Players. (20s-40s)
  • POLONIUS: Ophelia’s demanding yet absent father. A man of high expectation and status with very traditional values (Have fun, chaps!). This role will also be one of the Players. (40s plus)
  • PLAYER 4: The youngest of the travelling players who has a sweet speech that guides Ophelia at her lowest point. A role for a potentially young performer looking for some stage experience. (playing age teens or younger).

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