This is Ann's final blog post. This week she discusses running the play for the first time, the relationships between Claudio, Don Pedro and Don John, and where she draws her influences from.
Transcript of Podcast
The run the other day was fun, it was really good because it highlighted areas we had to work on. It was a great opportunity to see the whole play and piece it all together. We had a bit of an audience, too: other people working on the production, which was nice. The rehearsal period has gone quite quickly. I wish we had three months to rehearse, because there are so many people to learn things from, like Glynn [MacDonald, Master of Movement], Stewart [Pearce, Master of Voice], and Giles [Block, Master of the Words]. In a way, we have got three months because we’re doing the show for that period of time, but it would be nice to go on stage for the very first time with that period behind you; to get that utter confidence without any holes. I think we are going to try and achieve that in the time we’ve got left because I certainly feel that I know where the holes are and I’m trying to fill them. I don’t really mean holes; it's just a case of progressing further. We’ve worked on so much so far, and there's still more to be achieved. That's what I’d love to have more time to do, and that's going to happen during the run. It's just lovely when you start to feel that happening and when you see that happening in other people as well. I enjoyed the run because it was a great opportunity to sort out what I would like to work on, and what the character needs for me to feel that it's presentable. The main points were to do with my relationships at particular moments, my voice and physicality, and being that character. A lot of it is being the character that I feel and that the play requires, but the physical and vocal bits are also necessary to wash away ‘Ann’ and become Claudio.
Exploring relationships: Claudio, Don Pedro, and Don John
Rachel [Sanders, Don John], Belinda [Davidson, Don Pedro] and I did an exercise before lunch today where we had to tell each other who we were and what our position was. For example, Don Pedro said to me: ‘I am Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon,’ and I said ‘I am Count Claudio.’ He then said ‘I am your Prince’ and I said ‘I am your servant.’ Then we had to say what we wanted, so he said, ‘I want you to share your life with me’ but what he really meant was ‘I want to share my life with you!’ I said I wanted Don Pedro to be my father – I was thinking about him wanting to share his life with me because it's true, he loves me.
On the other hand, Don John certainly doesn’t care for me. The commitment to that was quite helpful because afterwards we went on to say what we wanted before each line we spoke in Act two, scene three. That's the scene when Don John comes in to tell Don Pedro and Claudio that Hero is being disloyal, and stating what we wanted before each line brought out a lot of things. For instance, I had found the part where Don John says to Claudio and Don Pedro ‘If you will follow me’ a bit difficult [III.2.108]. The line isn’t necessarily an instant ‘Follow me now’ but it does lend itself to an action. I think Don John's really saying ‘Come with me tonight and I’ll show you what I’ve been talking about, if you follow me.’ Once we had the intention there, right before the line, there was no need to add anything for that to make sense. It made sense already. So the exercise helped strengthen that moment.
I think it's quite a tricky scene, especially for Rachel [Sanders, Don John] because this scene is the first time that we all meet together, just the three of us, and Don John is embarking on a very dangerous project. If he is found to be a liar, his relationship with the Prince would definitely be over, and there's certainly a lot at stake for him. He has to do his job really well. There's a lot of pressure on him, and I think how that particular part is performed is quite tricky. Basically, Act three, scene two is about believing or disbelieving Don John, and I found there were times when I believed Don John and times when I didn’t. However Rachel chooses to perform it, the idea is that she performs it in a way that our characters will believe. Whether the character believes another character is different from me (as an actor) believing another actor, so it's a bit complicated. We’ll just have to see what happens. We’ve got another run this afternoon.
I see people and the way they behave near my home in London – there are lots of Claudios that are gorgeous! I’ve seen guys that I think would make exquisite Claudios, and I long to get in their shoes. Earlier in rehearsals, I had a week when I just walked behind guys, copying their walks because they were so cool. There was one guy who was so slow – he was walking at a normal speed, but it looked so slow that it must’ve taken loads of confidence. If I could act like that guy, then my life would be complete!
Holidays are also good times to see people and how they behave. I went to Lanzarote on my own for my last holiday. When you meet other people on their own, they’re often characters and they pour their heart out to you almost without knowing it. They tell you so much more than they would if you happened to meet on the Tube in London, and yet they are people that you could meet on the Tube in London. They’re just on holiday and making friends, so they’re more open, I suppose.
I’ve been to quite a few places: Nigeria, Tunisia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Turkey. When I travel, I look at people and their lives, and it amazes me (as it would anyone). I always think ‘I’ll knick that for acting.’ Nigeria was just another world. I wasn’t an actor then, but I remember things that influence my acting – how people tell stories, for instance; it's as much a storytelling nature as a case of ‘I’m going to tell you a story.’ I think there's a production of Mother Courage on at the moment with an all black cast, and I’d love to see that because these are characters that you see today. A lot of the theatre I grew up with did not necessarily have black actors or actresses – I had to go and find that. So it's nice to see part of the world I grew up in, in a play.
I love doing this play. Hero's amazing! I love it, and it feels very different from last year [2003 Season]. It's also very exciting because there's a lot to learn from this play. I like it because it's got love in it and there's so much love in the characters. It's about finding the absolutely perfect match, finding the right person and admitting it. There will be a day when we all come away and go ‘Guys – that was it,’ because Much Ado does have all these moments about finding your match and admitting it. That just needs to happen on stage when we all realise what we’ve got, what this is about, and what we’re doing. It's about all linking together, which sounds cheesy but it's true. I feel so secure on the stage; I feel like there's no one in the company that doesn’t care. Everyone's got their heart and soul in it.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.