The first week of rehearsals is over and I’m enjoying a brief respite at home. Well, I say respite. I never had this much homework when I was at university, never mind school!
However, it may sound cliched but working through the texts carefully and methodically is very enlightening. The amount of information you can discover, even fairly obvious stuff, from slowly going through the words is astonishing. I dread to think how much I missed the first few times round.
Ricky, our director, scares me.
He is so knowledgeable about Shakespeare’s work and that of his contemporaries (I’m used to being the most knowledgable one in the room dammit!) that I find him very intimidating. That though, I consider a very positive aspect of the rehearsal process. If I want to get better, I’ve got to learn. He’s an expert so who better to learn from? He bounces around fizzing like a fireball but always with a gleam in his eye and a smile. You can just tell he is energised by his passion for the work and that’s just how I feel about theatre in general. Maybe one day, I’ll feel the same way about the Bard too.
I’ve never had an experience like this to be honest. Such an approach and style of text is completely alien to me and I didn’t think I’d enjoy it or be able to fit in. As it is, I adore it. Being bombarded with facts, opinions, history and new ideas is what I just love. Doing it in this environment is positively orgasmic. I now understand how much work is involved and needed and I’m going to up my game and get on track. I will not let down this wonderful company and frankly awe inspiring cast down!
Now Shakespeare isn’t for all but the rest of the actors I’m privileged to be joining on this journey clearly know what they’re talking about. I’m not fishing for compliments here, believe me. I’m a bloody good actor and proud to say so but I’m really struggling to keep up with everyone around me. Then again, who is the only one to blame for that? I can’t ask anyone to sink considerably to my level with this material so I’ll work and raise myself up. Some of them are so comfortable with the work, they make it look effortless, which it certainly isn’t, and hugely impressive, which it and they certainly are.
I run to and from rehearsals every day (a 12 mile round trip) and go to the gym before and after. Frankly, that’s all wasted time as I’m getting a more than decent workout in the space. Hard work is its own reward goes the saying. What a load of old tosh. What it actually means is the feeling of accomplishment from putting in the effort is the just reward. That’s exactly how I feel about this entire process. There is absolutely no point just turning up and expecting to cakewalk through a rehearsal for a Shakespeare play, let alone two. Quite simply, the more you put in, the more you will get out and I have never been in any cauldron of intensity where that was as true.
I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat and ever so many tears. I do know though at the end of it all, it will be so worth it. I can’t wait!
t’s Friday. And I find myself typing that with a vague sense of disbelief. Where did the time go? Has it really been a week? Yes indeed, the first week of rehearsals for the upcoming double shot of Shakespeare at the Tristan Bates is concluded and now we depart for the weekend, to rest, reflect and prepare for the ensuing week ahead. What did Friday bring? For me, a sense of being weary; this rehearsal process is no joke, you cannot rest on your laurels and it’s hard to not feel burnt out by the end of the week. Sounds grim, but ironically this a good thing. As in, I feel like Bruce Bogtrotter from Matilda eating that giant chocolate cake. But we’ll all keep eating still, until that cake is finished. Because cake is delicious, and so is Shakespeare. Speaking of cake, it might not be the last we hear of it. Have I said too much? Watch this space.
Moving on- in the afternoon, we spent time throwing bean-bags to one another. This might seem at odds with what I said earlier, but not at all. It’s all a matter of focus and concentration, and it’s a part of the day I do enjoy, as it’s like taking your brain for a jog. So later, when we return to the script, one is more alert and aware.
And speaking of text, Coriolanus was in the spotlight today. We broke the play down further, identifying the presence of certain prevalent themes, and charting their presence and frequency. This, in conjunction with French Scene-ing, always fascinates me. You think you know the text, and suddenly, boom, there is something about the character or scene that was sitting under you nose the whole time. You really can never know the depth of layers of a scene until you do this work. You win this round Shakespeare.
This weekend, I shall be annoying my neighbors by singing, shouting and even rapping my lines. Might be good viral marketing for the show.