In this first blog entry, Laura Pyper [Cressdia] shares her first experiences of Shakespeare at school, how she became an actor and her intial impressions of the play and the part.
Transcript of Podcast
Shakespeare at school
I obviously know Romeo and Juliet and I have tried to read a lot of Shakespeare over the years. I studied Antony and Cleopatra for A-level and I absolutely loved it, it is still one of my favourite plays. When you study something it’s often not the case that you come away and still enjoy it. I loved the characters, both Antony and Cleopatra, the depth of the imagery and the sexiness. I particularly loved the description of Cleopatra as a mass of contradictions and I think that’s what the play is – sex and love and war.
Becoming an actor
I suppose the idea of acting crept up on me at school. In my last year, I did Frank McGuinness’ Factory Girls and I was hooked. After that I got a bit more involved at school and then went to Trinity College in Dublin for four years to do English and Drama. Whilst I was there I got heavily involved in the fantastic theatre society in Dublin. When I was in my third year at Trinity, I answered an open call for a big film that was being made there called Reign of Fire, I was very happy to get a part. Filming for that was my first experience of being a working actor, so I went in right at the deep end on a huge film! It was so much fun and I did a couple of months filming in the Wicklow Mountains outside Dublin, which was beautiful. I got an agent through that, then did a film in Dublin called Head Rush and when that came out I came over to England and got an agent over here. I never went to drama school. That’s why I’m so thrilled to be here at the Globe; it’s such an institution and it’s great to be trained properly in projection and movement and Shakespeare – I’m really excited about learning a lot here!
The Audition Process
Before this, I’d never read Troilus and Cressida and didn’t know much about it actually. I suppose I’d heard of the history of the war, and all the well-known Greek characters – everybody has heard of Helen of Troy – but I only knew a little bit. I read it before my first audition, and then I re-read it, and I was a bit baffled; it’s an extremely difficult play to read. My first audition was quite low key. I met Matthew [Dunster, director], he picked a couple of scenes and we read over a table. He didn’t give us any particular scenes to prepare, which is always quite scary because normally I like to learn all my lines and get to know the scenes really well for an audition. Then I had my second audition with two actors auditioning to play the part of Troilus. Dominic [Dromgoole, artistic director] was there as well. We put the scene on its feet in that one. One of the guys was Paul [Stocker, Troilus], so I met him in my second audition. It was really nice as we got the tube together afterwards and we just clicked instantly and got on very well. My third audition was on the stage at nine o’clock in the morning, which was terrific. I got there a bit early, so Paul and I had a chat and then we did a couple of scenes together – we just went for it. We did the scene when Troilus and Cressida first meet properly (3.2), and the scene when Pandarus tells me I’ve got to go back to my father and I initially refuse, but then end up going (4.2). They were the two major scenes that we focused on in the auditions.
Initial Impressions of Cressida
The second time I read the play, I began to feel I understood Cressida, and that’s when I knew that I really wanted to play her. I think people sometimes have a very adverse reaction to her. They think she is terrible for leaving Troilus, whereas I want to fight for the woman. She really does have a hard deal, and I feel like she’s been wronged. As I’ve been reading it, I’ve been getting to know her and getting under her skin – she’s a really feisty character! She’s been brought up by men, so she stands up for herself and is really ballsy. I’m just so excited about the prospect of playing her.
Preparation before Rehearsals
I’d done a lot of work for the three auditions because it was spread out over six weeks so I deliberately didn’t want to do any more preparation before rehearsals. I didn’t want to have too many ideas in case they all went under when I came into the rehearsal room. I like to come in fresh and see what happens and I’m glad I did that because I’m really starting to get a sense of her now. It’s amazing how much clearer it all is already, even at the end of week one.
These comments are the actor's thoughts and ideas about the part as s / he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his / her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsals progress.