Meet The Cast: Ashley D Gayle

For this instalment of our Meet The Cast series, we had a chat with Hamlet and The Cherry Orchard actor Ashley D Gayle! As well as performing recently here at Theatre Royal Windsor in The Lady in the Van, Ashley has previously acted in productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Nottingham Playhouse and Shakespeare’s Globe.

‘It’s been so long since I’ve been on a stage telling a story to a house where every seat is occupied, I just can’t wait to see all the faces looking out to me.


Ashley performing in The Lady in the Van at Windsor October 2020. Credit: Simon Vail.

What are you most looking forward to about this season?

I’m most excited about playing to a full theatre! It’s been so long since I’ve been on a stage telling a story to a house where every seat is occupied, I just can’t wait to see all the faces looking out to me.

What’s going to surprise people about this production?

Hamlet is a role typically played by a younger actor, but I think our show with Sir Ian McKellen playing the lead will show that it’s not necessary at all to have a younger actor in the role. It will demonstrate the beauty of theatre in which, we are all just a company of actors telling a story, and that if we say; for instance: that a chair is a car, then indeed on the stage that chair to the audience now becomes a car!

Have you performed in a Shakespeare play before?

I’ve only ever played one other Shakespeare play professionally, and that was Othello at The Globe/Sam Wanamaker Playhouse directed by Ellen McDougall, where I came on as Understudy for Othello. This was one of my first major plays and as a young actor I learnt so much from not only the job but from Shakespeare itself.

Growing up dyslexic, Shakespeare was always one of those names I normally avoided, because I believed I’d really struggle with it, but it turned out that not only did I thrive with it, it almost became my mini-mission to help make it accessible to other young people that are in the same frame of mind I once was and to show them that it’s not as daunting as they believe.

What have you missed most about performing to a live audience?

The atmosphere that they bring! It’s almost like being at a football stadium, no two shows are the same, and the buzz and atmosphere that the audience bring really does affect us actors on stage. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a vocal audience that creates an atmosphere that we as actors love to work in; even when they are listening intently, it is very noticeable and helps us really bring out the best within ourselves!


Book tickets to see Ashley in action for Hamlet, opening 21 June.


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