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On Tuesday afternoon, Tom Haine was reviewing sentencing documents for a guy facing 105 months in federal prison on charges of bringing methamphetamines into the country. Then, after work, Haine drove to a small theater next to a church in Point Loma for a rehearsal of “Hamlet” that he’s directing

“I’m thinking, OK, I’m going to do that and then I’m going to come here and do this,” Haine whispers, shaking his silvery hair, as he herds his motley, all-volunteer cast and crew for rehearsal. The show opens this weekend.

Haine’s work as an lawyer for the Border Patrol and U.S. Attorney’s Office has long been a foil for his nighttime passion of drama, the work of theatre and Shakespeare. Intrigued by acting, he took a class at The Old Globe 15 years ago, caught the bug for conveying the meaning of the bard’s words and began picking up roles here and there. A few years ago he tried directing, venturing to England a couple of times in summer to train.

When he talks about Shakespeare, he fairly gushes.

“The thoughts and the emotions that underlie are so intricate and meaningful that it’s just a joy to be able to say them in front of people,” Haine said.

In a trial, he says, you become the director, the producer and the actor all rolled into one. Stage fright is not an option when you’re “in front of 13 people who are always looking at you, plus a judge, a clerk, court reporter,” he says.

The attorney coordinates the testimony of the witnesses, emphasizes certain themes like a play might, and choreographes the presentation of evidence. And, for the final arguments, “you’re onstage by yourself” as if delivering a soliloquy.

The door to the theater swings open and two swordfighters turn their heads.

“Tom, we need to go over this part with you real quick,” says Amber Bonasso, the actor playing Hamlet as she rehearses a combat scene with the actor playing Laertes.

Haine steps on to the bare, wooden stage. As Bonasso plunges her sword into Laertes’ side, Haine delivers his line as King Claudius that will end the sparring match. With the timing now set for the scene, Haine steps offstage and resumes the logistical bellowing befitting the man who’s at once the king and the play’s director.

“OK, we’re going to start!” he says a few minutes before 7:30 p.m.

He calls backstage. “You guys in places?”

He mimics the welcome the stage manager will give the audience. The lights dim, a cello plays an ominous melody. With three more days until Opening Night, the rehearsal begins.

Vanguard Theatre presents “Hamlet” at the Westminster Theatre, 3598 Talbot Street in Point Loma, Jan. 6-8 and 13-15.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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