Getting up close and personal

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There comes a time in rehearsals when the director wants to go in close to a piece of text and refine things with the actors. Sometimes it’s because moments or a whole scene are not working as well as they might. Characters may have become becalmed and need a fresh injection of energy. Tonight was that night for my principal scene partner and I. It was a probing, analytical session, one that posed ‘what ifs’ about relationships and actions. It came at a good time, before the lines have solidified around these things, but after the preliminary outline or sketch has been made.

I’ve often thought of role development during rehearsals being like the creation of an oil painting. Firstly, the script determines the kind and scope of painting that might emerge. Early rehearsals for me are about sketching in the outlines of a broad composition, then about adding colour, light and shade … layering, defining some areas over others, and as the composition begins to emerge, even scraping away an unsatisfactory element or two, and replacing it with something that has emerged during the process. This is how we create during rehearsals.

And so tonight we were challenged. We scraped and redefined, layered and changed some of the tonal palette in several scenes. Paraphrasing was cleaned up … being dead letter perfect matters. What emerged after a couple of hours was a clearer sense of the arc of the characters’ roles within the story, and of course, a developing and refining of their relationship. For me it was one big step along the road.

PS. The night began with a publicity photo call in costume. It was great to get a first view of my character wigged and costumed with period spectacles … all grist to the creative mill. We stood on stage in 1930s costume inside a 1930s art-deco theatre. Thought for a bit about being the theatre ‘ghosts.’

Image: Thanks Adida Fallen Angel

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