An interview with Paapa Essiedu: part one

The production has been praised for its new take on the play, with Paapa’s performance receiving particular recognition.

In the first of a two-part interview, we speak to Paapa about Hamlet, those glowing reviews and his memories of Forest.

Congratulations on your role in Hamlet, how is the production going at the moment?

It’s going pretty good at the moment, we’ve done about a month and a half so far and we’ve got a little break now. It’s a much needed break as it has been tiring.

How did you react to the fantastic reviews?!

We were really pleased! I find reviews a strange thing as they’re an assessment of one night early on in a run, but it’s always good when they’re positive as it helps to attract more people to come and see the play, so it is a nice feeling for it to be well received.

Were you nervous ahead of the reviews?

Yes you never know how people will take what you do. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are, once you’re on the stage you’re out there for people to see.

How long did you have for rehearsals before opening night?

We had nine weeks beforehand, so we rehearsed non-stop for most of that time. Some of the cast are in two plays but fortunately I’m in just Hamlet.

You completed your senior education at Forest, how did you find your time at Forest?

I really enjoyed being at Forest, it’s a really interesting place to be as a pupil. I loved how multicultural Forest is, with pupils and teachers from lots of different backgrounds. In some ways Forest really helped set me up for life. I think it’s vital that Forest offers scholarships, I may have not been able to go to Forest otherwise so it’s crucial for people from less fortunate backgrounds to have these opportunities.

Did you enjoy the mix of subjects at Forest?

Yes I really did. I did a bit of drama in the Sixth Form and really enjoyed playing in the football team.

I think it’s great there’s so many facilities available to pupils in terms of the arts, sports and music. The more opportunities a child has to excel, the happier I think they will be.

How did the drama teachers at Forest help you?

They were great. I was taught by Mr (Paul) Oliver, who was Head of Drama. He was really passionate about drama and a fantastic teacher. He had a real appetite and love for the theatre and plays, which you could see in his teaching. When you’ve got someone with that level of passion, it’s impossible for it not to become infectious, so I’ve got a lot to be thankful to him for.

I think for any school it’s really important to promote the arts along with subjects like maths and science, because education is really about having a well-rounded appreciation of life and the world. You can learn a lot more about the emotions of the world through the arts than maths and science, so it’s good Forest offers these opportunities.

What are your fondest memories of being at Forest?

When we were in fourth or fifth year, our 1st XI football team got to the final of the Independent Schools Cup which was pretty exciting. Unfortunately, we lost in the final. It’s nice to see they’ve obviously improved with the latest win.

Click here to read part two