In Tas' first blog post he discusses becoming and actor, auditioning for the part, and the first day of rehearsals.
Transcript of Podcast
Becoming an actor
I went travelling for a couple of years across Asia and Australia and while I was in Australia I did a lot of dancing. I joined a dance school and I did jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop - a whole mix of different types of dance, even a bit of classical and contemporary. I also did a bit of acting in Australia and when I returned to London in the mid nineties I thought about what I’d enjoyed most whilst on my travels and I thought that I really enjoyed the acting so I went to Rose Bruford College in south east London and trained for three years on the acting programme there. And once I graduated I just started to work in the business.
Before I travelled I hadn’t really done any acting, not even when I was at school. I remember a friend of mine saying once that I should do some acting and that always stuck in my mind, but I never did anything about it. I did my A-levels. So yeah I think it was the travelling that really inspired me. When I had the opportunity to try it I thought suddenly ‘Yeah, I really like this!’
After drama college
My first job out of college - I was quite spoiled - was with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was such good fun. There were 28 actors in the company so it was really massive and I was playing Mr Squirrel, a Satyr and some of the other animals in Narnia. While I was there I remember I wrote letters to the Globe, just to see what was going on. And then I got cast! So my next job after that was at the Globe in The Tempest and then The Two Noble Kinsmen so I really am just totally spoilt. Since then, I’ve done lots of other things and now I’m back here for the summer!
Actors I admire
There are actors who I think are really good but often its actors in particular things. In terms of young actors, contemporary actors, I quite like Ed Norton at the moment who is a film actor and who I just think is brilliant. He is very versatile and brings quite an intensity to the work that he does, somewhat like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino who we all respect. But for me it's definitely different actors in different things.
I came in to meet Dominic Dromgoole, the Artistic Director, and I was quite nervous. We talked about who I’d worked with and we realised that we had been working with similar people on similar projects. Then I had to do a speech for him and funnily enough I had prepared a speech from Titus Andronicus by a character Aaron which he liked. He said ‘That's good, but…’ and he gave me some direction and gave me another way of playing it, which I then did, and then that was it. We left it there. I didn’t hear anything for a while and I knew that rehearsals had already started on Coriolanus. And then out of the blue my agent got a phone call saying that they would like to offer me the role of Maecenas in Antony and Cleopatra. I was delighted! I’m also in the play In Extremis by Howard Brenton, which is great so I will be very busy this season.
First day of rehearsals
On the first day we had what's called a ‘Meet & Greet’ and everyone has a coffee and introduces themselves and getting to know one another. I knew a couple of people already and I think in some ways it was easier for me because I’ve been in and out the Globe so much so I’m fairly comfortable here. But still it was very exciting because there are all these new people!
There are 18 people in the Countrymen Company so it's quite big. I think there are three women and 15 men so it is a very male orientated play but then, if you think about it, Rome is actually very masculine. Caesar and Lepidus and Antony are the three rulers of Rome so it is a very male society.
Learning about Antony & Cleopatra
On the first day, we also had some lectures to help us understand a bit more about the play. One lecture was about the world of Rome by Dr Farah Karim-Cooper [Globe Education Lecturer]. This play is set at a time when Rome was a superpower in the world but there was lots of complexity, lots of tensions. Part of the rehearsal process is actually understanding the world which we are playing because then we understand politically what it means for Antony to be away in Egypt. We were also told about Elizabethan perceptions of Rome because that is obviously what Shakespeare is writing from so we are beginning to understand some of that connection.
I think these ideas will feed into my performance; not necessarily in a way that you can see it, nothing as clear as that. But I like to think that it feeds into our understanding of the play, and makes us clear about the world we are in. We understand the differences between the culture of the Roman era, the culture of Shakespeare's time and our culture now and I think it informs the play. Its gives me a kind of security.
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.