We tried some Alexander Technique today in the warm-up. Standing feet parallel, shoulder width apart, bending down and slowly rolling up through the spine. This relaxes the spine and allows the actor to breathe properly. We then moved on to looking into the musicality of speech by speaking lines of poetry to each other and reacting to the sounds we made. The actual language was unimportant it was the way the lines were said that mattered.
We then continued our detailed reading of the script. We considered whether the characters in the play are acting or not. The obvious example of this was the Leading Lady a character who comes on stage dressed like Titania. Is this an example of the theatrical intruding into the real? When she speaks her language is overly dramatic and hyperbolic possibly indicating that she has been altered by the parts she has played, something the Director accuses her of when he claims she is not speaking but quoting. The Director goes on to accuse her of being a shell, which is inhabited by characters. It’s as if she is so absorbed in the theatrical that it has overtaken her. Because he views her as being fake the Director feels unable to hurt the Leading Lady as it would be too real, indicating he believes the worlds of the real and the imagined cannot interact. The Leading Lady’s response is to morph into Lady Macbeth in an effort to be more real, yet she does it in an overly theatrical way which undermines this decision. As she becomes Lady Macbeth the lights change to red and backdrop comes down making the change seem deliberately theatrical. It’s interesting to note that the Leading Lady uses red light to create the imagined blood whilst the Director will not allow real blood on his stage.
Should the actor be visible in a character? Stanislavski argued that if you cannot be seen then you would be completely submerged in a character making you mad.
We continued our discussion of reality and illusion. Surely if a play contains its own reality which has a logic of its own then we can’t accuse it of not being true? The stage has a truth of its own.
We finally got the opportunity to mark the space. First we took positions on the set and mimed an action, which our character would do. Mine was the simple act of writing in a notebook. We then increased this in intensity to see how manic the stage could get. We then got our first chance to improvise in the space. This interaction gave us crucial insight into the motivations of our characters. I learnt just how frustrating it was when you were waiting for something to happen on stage after you had paid for it and it was clear that nothing was going to happen. The dominance and power of the Director was quite antagonistic and I could understand why the Spectator would get annoyed.
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