In her third blog post Philippa discusses how her character will interact with the audience, her costume and the final stages of the rehearsal process.
Transcript of Podcast
Running the play
We’re starting to run the play more frequently now. During the last run, I tried to play about more with my character than I’ve done before. It’s too easy to get stuck into doing the same thing each time, and Mike encourages us to discover something new about our characters every time we perform, so, I thought I’d have a go during that run. I don’t think it went that well; I felt my performance was a bit boring, but I now feel much more confident to try something totally different next time.
"Points of Concentration"
Our schedule has settled down into a regular pattern. We spend our time rehearsing specific scenes, with the occasional voice and movement session in-between. I’m enjoying working on my scenes in much more detail than ever before, and trying to approach each scene from a new angle every time. Mike [Alfreds, Master of Play] is doing a new exercise with us called "Points of Concentration." Instead of concentrating on the small details of a scene, such as what a particular word might tell me about a character or a situation, this exercise encourages us to stand back and think about the whole scene at once whilst concentrating on one thought in particular. For example, having worked on a scene in detail, Mike might tell me to try it again using my love for Lysander as a point of concentration; this means that everything I say and do in that scene is affected, even if only a little, by my love for Lysander. If you imagine the scene as a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, over the last few weeks we have been concentrating on the little bits of orange floating in the juice. Adding a point of concentration to the scene is like adding a drop of a different flavoured juice to the glass: the whole drink still tastes mainly of orange, but it looks and tastes slightly different. Each point of concentration is relevant in some way to the scene, and you mustn’t use each point of concentration more than a few times because your ideas would get stale. It’s just a matter of doing the scene lots of times and absorbing all the different ideas you have. Some of them will come back to me during the performances, some of them won’t, but the exercise encourages me to keep having new ones!
Playing to the Audience
When I was here in 1999, I had lots of opportunities to speak my lines directly to the audience. In The Comedy of Errors, I was always pulling funny faces at them. This year, I feel I don’t have many lines that I can deliver to an audience in the same way. Although the audience are on my side, Hermia is such a contained and focused character that she doesn’t speak to them that much. There are some points where I could talk to them directly, for example when I say "I am amazed and know not what to say", but otherwise it’s much harder to say my lines to anyone but myself or the other characters. At the end of act ii scene 2, Hermia is alone on stage having just woken from a nightmare. This seems like a good opportunity to speak my lines out to the audience, but if I were to do that, it would only be for the sake of doing so and not because Hermia wants to. She is too scared at that point to do anything else but look for Lysander.
I finally got to see my costume the other day, and it’s gorgeous; I love it! It’s just pyjamas, basically, but really nice ones in a 1930s style; high waisted fitted trousers with flared legs, a little top and a velvet bed jacket. Everyone will have small lights, fairy lights I suppose, fitted into their costumes in various places. This is because when we are playing a character from the fairy world, we will be able to flick a switch and our lights will come on. This is all meant to help the audience distinguish whether I’m playing Hermia or a fairy when I’m on stage. My lights will be fitted into the little bow on my top, and I’ll also have some in my hair as well. I can’t wait to see what it looks like!
We’re now in the final stages of rehearsal, which does mean that some days can get quite frustrating. Mike [Alfreds] is making sure we know whenever we’ve made a mistake, even a tiny one, whether it be with our voice, our movement, or with our lines, in every rehearsal. It’s important to do this, and I’d rather we did it at this point in rehearsals than at a later time, but I still get annoyed because we (the company) feel we’re at a stage when we want to experiment with letting the play flow. I don’t like it when I have to keep stopping and starting. But still, we’re about to start performances and it’s very exciting!
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.