Thursday, May 04, 2006

Acting Shakespeare

MacB rehearsals start next week. I haven't sat down yet to 'prepare,' but while visiting my mom in Gulfport, I did end up rehearsing with her. She's not familiar with Shakespeare, having been scared off him by bad teaching and high falut'n ideas just like most people have, and so I read to her the key scenes in which Banquo appears, reading all the roles--witches, MacB, Seward, murderers--and unpacking them for her as I went, giving her the backstory, paraphrasing in plain English more obscure phrases (she turned out not to need much of that--she's a good reader and listener), and using her to help me work out phrasing I didn't understand myself. In fact, I did with her exactly what actors playing Shakespeare should be doing with each other, when they prepare a role.

One of the exercises given to us at Shakespeare & Company was to read our scenes with our acting partners while stopping each other for clarification of ANYTHING that didn't make sense, and much to our shock, much of it didn't. Lines we thought we understood were quickly revealed to be more obscure and denser with word play, meaning, and plot detail than we'd first seen. Hunh. Who knew?

I am hoping that in rehearsal for MacB, Jeremy will tell us to do this. Go into a corner with our acting partners, sit in a chair, read and question each other, and look especially for those points in which a new understanding of the text emerges (actors should come up with a minimum fixed number of new ideas so that they don't get lazy and claim they found none. There are never none.) At our first reading, I'll bring in with me a list of other acting games we used at S&C, as well. I'm interested to see how receptive the other cast members are to trying them out.

1 comment:

David Loftus said...

I'm not getting the hang of this. I posted a comment at this point a couple days ago, but I don't see it, so I must have done it wrong.

I wanted to say, David, that the exercise you describe in the third paragraph appeals to me, and even if it is not formally pressed in rehearsals, there's nothing wrong with actors doing it to one side when they're not working, or on separate time. Unfortunately, my character doesn't really have any meaty scenes opposite yours!