"Olivia is this island and she's closed off, because she's had such grief from both her father and her brother dying. The household is just being run from one hour to the next: it's order and trying to get through the day. And this young man arrives and you see a chink, a little bit of light enter into her..."
As we enter Week 4 of rehearsals, Annette talks about her initial impressions of Olivia, character shrines, and grief.
Time: 4 minutes 13 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Rona Kelly: So let's talk a bit about the rehearsal room and your character Olivia. What were your initial impressions of Olivia?
Annette McLaughlin: Deep grief. I was really interested in finding that before finding anything else, as was Emma [Rice]. Emma talks a lot about catastrophic grief, which I feel is right. [Olivia] is this island and she's closed off, because she's had such grief from both her father and her brother dying. The household is just being run from one hour to the next, but that's all it is: it's order and trying to get through the day. So that was my first thing and the first thing we explored actually in the rehearsal room. And then you feel like she has a journey to go on, that this young man arrives and you see a chink, a little bit of light enter into her. It's finding all of that and AJ [Uwajeh] is wonderful to work with, and she's absolutely stunning. She's just extraordinary and so it's been really great fun finding that journey with her. It's all to be found, all is still to be found. But that seemed like the right place to start, from the sadness and the grief and the loss of identity.
RK: We spoke to Emma last week and I think she said one of the activities [for] when you're playing around with the characters and getting to know them. Olivia was going through the possessions which belonged to her brother with Malvolio, and maybe starting to unpack things...
AM: Exactly. I mean, Emma has such a wonderful way of storytelling. She is second to none and I have worked with her a lot. We were discussing, 'What could [Olivia] be doing? What could we see her doing? Is she by an altar...?' And the way Emma's mind works is fantastic, because she says, 'Well, maybe she's packing away all the clothes'. For anybody out there who has had to deal with grief, that's actually a really hard thing to do and a difficult part of grief. Losing someone's smell on their clothes, and we explored that which was a genius idea. So it tells you a lot and it's real, it's not something that we can't find that's in the past; it's real and now. I've experienced it and she has, and that felt a good thing to do in the rehearsal room.
RK: I think Emma's room certainly sounds very playful. Letting you guys explore the characters first, and then going into the text. Where are we at at the moment in the rehearsal process?
AM: Well, there's a lot of movement and song as well when Emma tells stories, which is wonderful. It's helping the story along. At the moment, we're working out what works and what doesn't, what helps and what hinders, and what's too long. We've done a lot of character work, we all brought in shrines to our characters and played music which we felt was either something that our character would listen to or maybe was the essence of our character. You just bring in something that maybe your character would have or that would be important to your character. Mine were very few, because I don't think at the beginning of the play there's much else in her world apart from the grief. So mine were to do with her grief. But for other people, there were lots of different things. So it's great, it's a great exercise in just exploring a little bit. We did do yesterday our first stagger through run...and when I say 'stagger through', I really do mean stagger through! But she needed to see an arc of the story and to see where we were with that. It was a very early run through, so we're going back and hopefully putting some detail on things now.