In this rehearsal blog post, Ceri-Lyn talks about her experience of Shakespeare at school, how she became an actor, her research into the part of Anne Page, and what the first day of rehearsals was like.
Transcript of Podcast
In this rehearsal blog post, Ceri-Lyn talks about her experience of Shakespeare at school, how she became an actor, he rresearch into the part of Anne Page, and what the first day of rehearsals was like.
Shakespeare at School
I didn’t actually study much Shakespeare until maybe year 9, and the first Shakespeare that I did study was actually The Tempest for the school play. I wanted to audition because I had just moved to the school and I wanted to be part of the drama scene at the school. I didn’t really know how to approach the text at all as I’d not done any Shakespeare so I found it quite difficult, but my English teacher was brilliant and I got cat as Miranda, which was nice. So I had a really good time and that was the first thing we did.
At GCSE and A level obviously I studied other plays; we did Measure for Measureand we did The Winter’s Tale, but I think it was Measure for Measure that really made me start to understand how cool Shakespeare really was and how current he was – all the little jibes towards politics that he was trying to get in and how he’s actually quite naughty as a writer and you don’t realize that until you start digging in to it. That’s when I got passionate about it, trying to figure it out because it’s quite a crossword sometimes – I just loved it.
Then from there I studied for a summer at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama and we did scenes from Macbeth and I just became in love with the language and the violence and the drama that he can create just by using specific words in a specific order and the poetry and the rhythm of it – I was passionate about learning about that. Since then I’ve read things myself and that’s basically my experience of it.
Becoming an actor
I took a really strange route to becoming an actor. I had a bit of a difference of opinion to my parents, who were worried that actors were always starving and that work is difficult (which of course it is), but it’s the road you choose. So when it came to me taking my career decisions, they decided that the right compromise was for me to go and do an academic music course, because I was good at my music and it was creative enough for me but it was also steady and secure enough for them. So I studied at the Royal Melbourne college of Music as a classical Soprano but a year, but it just didn’t give me enough fulfillment. It wasn't what I actually wanted to do and I found myself skipping classes and going home, reading plays instead and going to the theatre (I used to go to the Manchester Library Theatre all the time) and I just wasn’t putting enough energy into my work there, so I dropped out and moved back home.
I decided that if acting was what I wanted to do then I was going to go and pursue it and I moved myself back to London and ended up actually doing a musical theatre course for a year because it tied music in with theatre and I thought it was using the best of all the things that were best in my life! It was actually a very ‘actor’ based one, in that we did Shakespeare on the course as well. Singing was a sort of medium to express the actual theatrical journey of the character, not just singing for singings sake. So that’s the route I took.
I think you’re either born wanting to act or you’re not. I’ve got very strong childhood memories of being in the supermarket or a café watching people thinking “Ok, they pick their fork up differently to how I do. Why do they do that?”. I used to play games and sit on the bus and think “If I was taking this journey as somebody who’s going on holiday, how would I be sat? or "If I was taking this journey as somebody who was 50 years older than me how would I be sat?” And it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve realised that’s probably not normal behavior for someone that doesn’t want to be an actor! So it was always there.
Preparation before rehearsals
I think the amount of prep you do varies from job to job. With this job, the Globe is something that I’ve always dreamt of doing and I knew that I was walking into a cast of extremely experienced, established actors, most of whom had already done the production before. So for me personally being the kind of person I am, to walk into the room with no knowledge was a little too much of a risk to take.
I’m lucky, because Anne Page isn’t that far from who I am. She’s a young girl who wants to fall in love, falls in love, wants to marry the guy she’s fallen in love with and will do anything that she wants to get there. I’m quite a determined person in my life anyway, so character-wise I don’t think I had a lot of difficulty trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it. But when you come to thinking about the life that she would have lead, the domestic circumstances, the prospects for a young girl in those times – that kind of thing was very foreign to me and that’s what I’ve been researching. But I didn’t start too far before rehearsals started, so I’ve done a lot of research this first week.
Research into the role
Basically, I've discovered there was a lack of freedom that young women would have had in those times - your parents had a lot more of a say in what you did. Obviously your parents have a lot of say these days as well, but today, if I want to go out with a guy, I’m wouldn't listen to my parents if they told me not too, whereas in those times, Anne would have done and she would have had to; if they said marry somebody she would have had to marry them.
Cunningly enough, Anne makes her own plots and plans and in this play and that’s what I love about it, because it goes against the grain and might even show Shakespeare protesting the fact that young women didn’t really have a lot of freedom in those times. Anne also wouldn’t have been allowed to go out as much as a young person would today or to party in the same way. She would have to be chaperoned, but as a result, I think Mistress Quickly and Anne have a very cool relationship within the play; it’s evident that Mistress Quickly has taken Anne under her arm and will look after her but also try and give her the freedom that she knows that Anne strives for.
First day of rehearsals
On the first day, there's a meet and greet session, where everyone gets together, has a cup of tea and meets everybody. There’s only three new cast members ofMerry Wives, Gerard [McCarthy, Fenton], and Barnaby [Edwards, Rugby] and myself, So i was quite nervous abut going in. I'd actually because I’d already met Gerard at the Music Hall a week before the first day of rehearsals, just to set keys and routines and other musical stuff. So that made it easier ... but it's still quite scary having to walk into a room full of people you don't know. But all the other actors and they were so lovely and loving and warm and inviting. It was lovely to feel that I was coming into this family that was already knitted together.
We all sat in a big circle and introduced ourselves and met all the production team as well, which was interesting - the designer and the costume people and so on. We had a talk from the Artistic Director [Dominic Dromgoole] and that was reallymotivating you know, to get a talk like that about this amazing place that I’d always wanted to work. Then we had a talk from our director, Chris Luscombe, which again was really inspiring.
After lunch we had a read through of the play and I sat and listened to all these amazing actors and thought “Is this really my life?! That I get to sit amongst all these people and learn all these things?!”
We haven't even started rehearsals yet but I know that during this journey there is so much to learn and to be around these people is just absolutely incredible. To hear Shakespeare read by people that really know what they’re doing is just an amazing experience - it’s great!