In her second blog post, Tonia discusses the relationships between different characters, the outcomes of her research and her costume.
Transcript of Podcast
I have been looking at language and verse and counting out the beats in the lines that I have to speak. I had a session with John McEnery and Julian Glover. They were exploring the scene between the Fool and Lear. Barry [Kyle, Master of Play] wanted me to be there, because of the relationship he sees between the characters of the Fool and Cordelia. I am uncertain of the relationship between these two characters. However, after going to that session, I now have my own ideas about their relationship. It came to my attention that when Cordelia disappears, the Fool comes in, and when the Fool disappears, Cordelia returns.
I have also had a session on Cordelia's return in the final part of the play. Cordelia returns with the King of France, who then has to leave again (I am uncertain to why he leaves). At that point Cordelia is left on her own again. She justifies her return by saying that it is not for her benefit in terms of political conquest.
We have been trying to develop the relationship between the actors. On Monday we had a session with the entire company. We read through the entire play again and Barry picked out the themes that he thinks are important. Our discussions with Barry were based around the ideas of blindness, seeing, insight and madness. We explored this by carrying out simple tasks like walking across the room with our eyes closed. This was done to see what would happen if we lost one of our senses.
We have also been exploring the importance of animals in the play, as there are numerous references to animals. One task we were set was to write down all of the animals that we remembered being mentioned in the play. Animals such as horses, crows, snails, ox and owls are referred to. Then, we had to try and decide which actor was like which animal. People matched me to a gazelle and a ‘bush baby’ (an animal with huge round eyes, which comes from Australia).
We have been working through the play backwards, concentrating on the last scenes first. I have not had any sessions with my father or sisters, as Barry does not call in people scene by scene. Instead, he is trying to find connecting groups of characters. Being able to ‘dip’ in and out of the play, in this way, makes rehearsals more interesting, and easier. I find it very inspiring.
Research and themes
I have been carrying out my own research. I am currently looking into the theme of nature, plants, flowers and leaves. This idea came from one of Cordelia's speeches when she calls upon the powers of the earth. In this speech, she is constantly using words that relate to the process of healing, such as ‘restoring’ and ‘weaving’. From this research, themes have emerged on rituals and witchcraft.
Another important theme that we have looked into is the position of women and marriage. How were women treated in marriage? I feel that women were literally sold by their family. They were given away with a dowry, and they had no say into their marriage. It was a patriarchal society. The first son would inherit everything; the second son would be dependent on them.
I have seen some of the costumes, and there seems to be a unifying design to them. They are going to look as similar as possible. Originally our dresses had a very simple and loose design; they were just hanging body folds of fabric, with an almost medieval look. However, Felicity (Dean, Regan) and Patricia (Kerrigan, Goneril) felt that it would be better to have the dresses corseted and straight. I thought it was quite important for my costume to look like Goneril and Regan’s. I did not want to stand out from them. We all look very different. One of the casting ideas was for us to each be very different. Barry felt quite strongly about this, as there is no mother in the play. The mother is only mentioned twice. I have not yet come to the conclusion about what has happened to their mother or if indeed the sisters have the same mother.
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.