Sonia has been considering the effect that working on the Globe stage will have on her performance.
Transcript of Podcast
Sonia has been considering the effect that working on the Globe stage will have on her performance. On the stage characters who listen to a scene (such as Nerissa) provide a ‘window’ on that scene for members of the audience who may not have a clear view of the character who is speaking. This makes Sonia's reactions very important.
Sonia has also been considering the physicality of her character e.g. what part of the body does Nerissa ‘lead’ with? Or in other words which part of her body dominates the way she walks and moves? Sonia decided that Nerissa led from the back and shoulders, she is elegant, muscular and strong.
This has been a difficult time for Sonia because her horse died. The horse had been with Sonia for many years and she was very distressed by his death; this event took much of her emotional energy and she was not able to take time away from rehearsal. At this time as part of the rehearsal process the whole company went away for a residential week to an old air craft base where they created the appropriate environment for their characters and acted out the scenes that are not in the play. In other words what happens to the characters when they are not on stage (Sonia called the process the ‘not play’). This is helpful because it gives the cast a common memory, which they can draw on in later rehearsals. It also helped Sonia with her portrayal of the clerk, she has decided to play the clerk as a young boy who takes orders from Portia as Bellario. This provides a direct parallel with Nerissa's position as Portia's maid. Sonia feels that Nerissa is quite wise within the limitations of her world, she knows her limitations but is also willing to take the ‘main chance’ and the main chance is Gratiano – Lord Bassanio's friend.
Sonia has decided that Nerissa is not in love with Gratiano, she likes him and promises to be faithful to him, but sees him as a way to strengthen her position. Sonia feels love between them will happen, Nerissa's real love or devotion at that time lies with Portia. Nerissa will only marry Gratiano "if it please" Portia. Gratiano is in love with Nerissa – there is no social advantage to him in the marriage. Sonia and Andrew (the actor who plays Gratiano) have decided that they met on an earlier visit to Belmont, the reason Gratiano wishes to return to Belmont with Bassanio is to see Nerissa.
The director has decided that Nerissa will bring out the caskets. This gives her a highly visible role in these scenes. Sonia feels that this is important as it will help Portia strengthen her resolve to abide by the terms of her father's will. She has also decided that Nerissa definitely knows which casket contains Portia's portrait but she doesn’t know what is written inside it.
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.