I recall the audition day very clearly...

...more-so the reaction of my dad when telling him that I had the audition. I said I'm not sure about even going as I'd never done a 'Shakespeare' and what a place to start and fail. My dad replied quoting Shakespeare: "Cowards die many times before their deaths."

I remember being incredibly nervous going in and terribly relaxed coming out. Erica, Hannah and Sophie had fooled me into thinking it was simple...

Two men hold back a screaming woman by her arms
Mercy Ojelade as Hermia, with Chris Nayak (Demetrius) and Jack Holden (Lysander)
Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

First Day

4th January. Quite like the first day of a new school. Nervous, excited and probably in the wrong place. That plus the usual first rehearsal day feeling of "they're going to discover they've made a very big mistake...". The morning greeting had a funny incident with a member of staff / possibly a stage manager presuming I was in the Hamlet company...!?

Being part of the Dream team

I fear being part of such an ensemble is a very unique experience. I can't see it happening in the same way. Stage management, technical staff, directors, actors, production staff, administrative staff, education teams, creative teams, backstage departments genuinely working together. It was humbling to be part of the Dream and a true reminder that the actors are one part of a very big picture. We all survived! The camaraderie was insane! The collective need to stay positive manifested itself in many ways. I've had an experience that will stay with me for some time and have hopefully met friends and colleagues that will also.

Performing in Stratford-Upon-Avon

We'd had lots of warning about the space in rehearsals, it was all pointless. I simply had to see it and be in it - before accepting that it does have the potential to be a very intimidating space - but only until you're on it. It's vast and freeing and yet surprisingly intimate - quite like a familiar playground. The touring nature of the Dream made many of us long for the RST space bringing the show back to its intended shape. Naturally, the RST or even the RSC was never on my 'to do' list so to have done it is quietly satisfying. I'm not under any illusion that it may ever happen again so I shall enjoy it while it lasts!

My Experience

I loved the physical possibilities of playing Hermia in the Dream. Who knew the RSC would allow for such capers? I didn't! Working with Siân and Polly was a fantastic experience. Working in such fine company has been an absolute joy. The RSC has an ability to make the actor feel privileged. It's a dangerous position to be in - I've high expectations as a result!


Never say never. I'm not sure there is a 'route' into the RSC contrary perhaps to former beliefs and scaremongering. Based on my performance background and interests, I shouldn't be on their radar. My performance aims continues to be: keep your head down and do the work that you do. Do it well. Comparison with others is a waste of time. I make a point to seek out the plays, productions and creatives that interest me.

 Mercy Ojelade

Mercy Ojelade

Mercy Ojelade joined the Royal Shakespeare Company to play the role of Hermia in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation’, the flagship project for Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary year, which visited every region and nation of the UK.

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