Emma’s Log – Stardate 31-5-13
Mission: to boldly perform Titus Andronicus – On Tour – Summer 2013
Having made contact with Smooth Faced Gentlemen I proceeded to integrate myself into their culture. I find them to be an energetic group of creative talent. I hoped I would do justice to this fine race of actors (though I am by far the youngest *wink*).
During our rehearsals we have started by focusing on physicality and how important that is going to be – particularly when portraying the opposite sex. An exercise I found useful was walking around the room, finding our neutral body positions, then slowly becoming a man we knew. Getting into the mind-frame of a man I found had the most effect on my physicality. Knowing where their tensions lie, and what they may have experienced to bring about how they look or hold themselves.
As a woman, you rarely question why a man walks the way he walks or does the things he does. This was certainly a good place for me to start, and I think it’s an exercise I’ll find helpful throughout the rehearsal process.
Now, speaking of why a man walks the way he walks, there are some things that men have that women certainly do not… You can probably guess where I’m going with this. And so, when our lovely director Yaz asked us to bring three socks to our most recent rehearsal, I had a general idea what they’d be for… where they’d be going.
I found, to begin with, putting the socks down my trousers to create a false phallus was… hilarious! I became a bit giggly – as did most of us. But when the giggles subsided and I started to think as a man again, I felt quite exposed. Now I know why some men have a need to grab ‘down there’. Despite how ridiculous this activity might sound, it’s been one the most helpful things we’ve done so far in rehearsal. It’s that whole thing of being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and I think that’s an essential part of what we have to do. Though I may have become too comfortable… I had a moment of panic when I left the rehearsal that I’d left the socks in my pants. (I hadn’t. Thank goodness.)
Of course, it’s not all just playing around with false-genital-socks. We have also been spending a lot of time looking at the characters, relationships and themes of the play.
The Gents work in a way that I have never worked before: I started my rehearsals having not been cast. This gave us all the opportunity to explore the characters in the play that perhaps we weren’t going to/couldn’t play. On our first day, I had the chance to read the part of Aaron, and by doing so, certainly gained a better understanding of him – as I had come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t play this part, I had subconsciously skimmed over the depth of the character.
There is always that danger as an actor that you concentrate on your part and your part alone. I think it’s generous to consider the whole picture. (I would recommend looking at Patsy Rodenburg’s theory on ‘The Second Circle’ in relation to performance).
What I am beginning to understand is how exciting this gruesome, violent Shakespeare play is. What a great opportunity to let loose our inhibitions and plunge ourselves into the depths of death, blood, gore, death, Romans and death! I can’t wait to start our second week of rehearsals.This prevents that. It also gives the sense of togetherness with the cast – everyone is welcome to put their ideas into the melting pot, be the idea for your character or not.
Fazers on stun, team!