In his fourth blog post, Tas talks about how his character has developed in rehearsals, the first run, and practicing the jig.
Transcript of Podcast
Progression in Rehearsals
I think we’ve turned a real corner now. We’ve put layers on top of layers. This week we started running the play in four sections so we split the text into quarters. It was the first time I’d sort of seen what was happening in the other world, in Egypt, and we got to see how they were moving and it really highlighted the contrast between Rome and Egypt; Rome being really ordered and duty bound and Egypt being quite lush and free and sensual.
Later on, we had our first run, and it was really lovely because we weren’t as nervous as we had been doing those little sections together. I think any time you bring together what you’ve done so far, even if you are not performing it as such and it is a work in progress, there is natural adrenaline and you can feel nervous. The run was helpful because we got to ‘feel’ the whole play and we got a sense of what hangs together and what needs a lot more work.
I think that the run was extremely encouraging. It does hang together and the narrative is so powerful that, if you let it, it will just drive us through. I think Dominic is going back now and he is beginning to tighten up scenes and moments. We are beginning to go back and find more layers.
I think one of the things we will be looking at is how we project each character. Through the course of the play, certain characters can be overpowering or over projecting whereas they need to be able to chart their emotional journey a bit clearer so that they are not peaking too soon, or they reach the peak and then try to sustain that energy level for too long. If you listen to a normal conversation between two people, you will notice that people speak very quickly indeed, whereas if you are on quite a high emotional pitch, the speed tends to slow down. We’re searching for the right balance and flow of emotional pitches so the audience can sense more colour in the language.
Dominic was really good in setting up the run because he said that we shouldn’t feel like we are performing to anyone. It is just so that we can see what we’ve got. He also said that we shouldn’t get angry with ourselves if we drop a line or mess up - don’t worry about it. I just thought that was really lovely because even though we were all focused and we know what we are doing it almost took us off the hook of having to be right. And that gave us freedom to just go for it.
Maecenas blending with other characters
In Antony and Cleopatra there are lots of individual characters, lots of messengers and soldiers, who just come in and do some reporting and I think Dominic felt that on a certain level perhaps Shakespeare was just showing his knowledge of some of these characters around Rome at this time. So you have lots of different names coming in and say just one or two lines. What Dominic decided to do was consolidate some of them into Maecenas which is great for me because it means I have more to do! It's also interesting because of what happens is that Maecenas - at the beginning of the play he is very much in favour with Caesar but towards the end of the play he loses favour and others come in and take his place so I suppose it changes it slightly, although I don’t think it changes my character very much at all – Maecenas informs and advises Caesar throughout the play.
Rehearsing the jig
The jig is something we’ve been working on this week. At the beginning of the jig, the Romans make certain moves which are really ordered and formal. Then the Egyptians kind of flounce in and they are waving their arms and being very fluid. Each set of movements is well supported in the music through the beat and the tune which is very good.
There is a moment when all of the actors get together on stage and we do the same thing. It is quite tricky and we are learning a lot very quickly. We found out yesterday that we are going to be singing while we are dancing so we are all busy learning this song as well! The song sounds amazing – we heard it on CD – and it just pierces your soul. Its tones and the key it is in make it sound quite like the Muslim call to prayer – that's what it reminds me of, anyway.
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.