Father plays part for son killed by rubble
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2011
Robert Gilbert just wanted to do his son proud.
His son, Jaime Gilbert, 22, was meant to play Laertes on the opening night of the Repertory Theatre production of Hamlet at Burnside High School's Aurora Centre last night.
But Jaime, a father of two, died when he was hit by rubble outside the Iconic Bar in Manchester St during the February 22 earthquake.
His sister, Amy Cooney, who was also in the bar and injured by the falling facade, reached for her brother's hand as he died.
Robert Gilbert knew his son would want the show to go on and three days after Jaime's funeral he spoke to the Repertory Theatre's artistic director about taking on the part.
"It wasn't like a eureka moment," Gilbert said.
"I just knew in my heart he would want the show to go on if at all possible as long as people weren't going through undue hardship. He was a theatre kid."
Gilbert spoke to The Press moments before going on to the stage last night.
"I'm nervous because I want to do my son proud.
"I feel quite a weight of responsibility filling his shoes.
"I feel he's a better actor than I'll ever be."
He said some of the cast had lost their homes in the February quake, and another cast member had lost a family member.
"We're finally here and we've been through quite a lot. It's been quite a ride," Gilbert said.
"We're all very conscious our city is in ruins, and it means a lot to see this through to fruition."
Jaime Gilbert had been rehearsing his lines with his father.
"He loved it," Robert Gilbert said.
"He was right on top of his role.
He expected an emotional night but hoped to hold back the tears until after the show.
"I don't think [I'll be emotional] when I'm acting, but maybe afterwards."
After the September 4 quake, the play's original home, the Repertory Theatre in Kilmore St, was closed, so rehearsals were moved to Tony's Tyre Service in Armagh St.
The cast was forced to move again after the February quake.
Hamlet opened to a sellout audience last night. It is on tonight at 7.30pm and tomorrow at 2pm and 7.30pm.