Ahad Raza Mir rose to prominence in Pakistan with his roles in successful drama serials such as Yaqeen ka Safar, the currently aired Aangan and last year’s hit film Parwaaz Hai Junoon, however, many didn’t know that he is a University of Calgary theatre student. The actor has returned to Calgary for the first time in three years to take on the role of Hamlet in Vertigo Theatre’s Hamlet: A Ghost Story.
In an interview with The Gauntlet – a campus publication based in Calgary – the actor spoke about why he chose to perform Hamlet.
“I think my comeback is less professional and more personal,” Ahad said adding, “I wanted to return to the stage, I haven’t been on it for so long. I also just wanted a challenge and to be honest with you, when I’m in Pakistan, I’m just at my house because if I go outside it can be kind of hectic at times. While I love taking selfies and I love my fans, I just needed a break.”
The story of Hamlet has been retold countless times and therefore it is challenging for an artist to interpret the role. Ahad, however, is no stranger to Shakespeare, as he has also performed in The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth before switching to the film industry.
“I’m figuring it out as the process goes and I probably won’t figure it out until halfway through the show. Our adaptation is unique because we’re playing with a horror element. What The Shakespeare Company does really well is that they make things accessible for people who don’t usually watch or are even familiar with Shakespeare. I think our first goal is to make things relatable for the audience. We don’t want people sitting there going, ‘What the hell are they talking about?’ The way I’m doing it is not so presentational but more humanized. It’s less about presenting and more about the actor to feel it — if they communicate properly, then the audience will get it,” he said.
If you look closely at the poster, there is something special the costume of about Hamlet: A Ghost Story. The half-skull, half-Ahad design is probably the main focus of the poster. But a person of Pakistani heritage will instantly realize that the collar of Hamlet’s shirt resembles the collar of a traditional men’s kurta.
“To suit me, they definitely gave Hamlet’s costume a desi vibe,” Ahad quipped.
It makes our hearts swell with pride that Ahad is the first South-Asian Canadian to play Hamlet in Canada and the actor accredit his supportive parents and sheer hard work for achieving this milestone.
“I had a lot of desi friends who wanted to play music or dance but — because of their parents — they went into engineering or became unhappy doctors. I feel like that’s too bad because when you come to places like Canada, there are so many facilities to learn about the performing arts. I hope that by doing Hamlet, there’s some Pakistani kid in the audience going, ‘If he can do it, I can do it,’ ” he said.
Hamlet: A Ghost Story is running till April 13 at the Vertigo Theatre.