‘Hamlet’ music maker and grave digger

Scott Kelley

Scott Kelly plays the Gravedigger in “Hamlet,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But there’s something else: Throughout nearly all of the play, looking up from the audience toward the Elizabethan Theatre’s “heavens,” you see Kelly, an enigmatic figure, surrounded by musical instruments and bathed in a deep-red light. Kelly’s music provides a psychological resonance for Hamlet’s inner monologues with an occasional duet with Hamlet on electric guitar. I saw the first preview, and the undercurrent of music intensifies the emotional impact of the language.

Before joining the cast of “Hamlet,” Kelly spent eight years as an OSF sound technician. A gifted musician, Kelly often tours internationally with his heavy metal band, Neurosis.

EH: When did you know you wanted to be a performing artist?

SK: I was focused on music at a young age. I was driven by it. I started out playing music mainly inspired by punk rock. That was how I learned. It was the kind of music where your emotion mattered more than your skill level, at the onset. If you felt it, you could get up and do it. I slowly learned. I taught myself how to play through the course of that, through touring, and being exposed to the world and other musicians. My initial influences were bands like Black Flag and Black Sabbath and early Pink Floyd. Then I came across Miles Davis and Hank Williams and more obscure underground stuff, noise music, and avant-garde music. I like some hip-hop music. I like Wagner, Prokofiev; I like the heavy classical stuff, anything that moves me. I like emotion-driven music. I don’t like cookie-cutter stuff. I’ve got to feel it in the words or the music. It could be (the poet) Charles Bukowski, to me he’s very musical. I just need to feel it. Continue reading ‘Hamlet’ music maker and grave digger