Caminando with the RSC: Getting the part
May 29, 2012
I'm a Mexican actor who was born in Germany, studied for a time in London and at the moment is working in the production A Soldier in Every Son with the RSC. I'm a full time member of the Mexican National Company of theatre.
Last year Roxana Silbert went to Mexico and had us read a play by a Mexican play writer, Luis Mario Moncada, about the rise of the Aztec empire and the disputes between the different kingdoms in the Mexican valley in the beginnings of the XV century (100 before the Spaniards arrived, in case you were wondering).
The play is based on three of Shakespeare's History plays, Henry IV, King John and Richard III; taking the scenes that were similar to our history from the plays and adapting them to the Mexican universe.
I was very excited about the project and the possibility of coming back to England (I left in '97) but since the play was about indigenous people I had little hope. Thankfully Roxana's ideas of the play were really open minded about casting and I got chosen with other 10 actors of our company as a possible candidate.
After that it was a long wait since the text needed a lot of work so no final casting decisions could be made. The play went from being three autonomous plays to a single play. Finally in December they gave us the name of the six actors who would travel to Stratford.
Our grasp of the English language was very different so we started working with an English teacher. We started work with an early draft which was just a literal translation from the Spanish text. We didn't have any assigned roles but the idea was to practice our English and getting into the world of the play.
I have to say that this period of history is very obscure to us as Mexicans as well, because we just glide over it at school, and a lot of it is lost between fact and myth. So it was a great opportunity for us as well to get to know our roots.
Trips to the museums, talks with anthropologists, walks through the ruins,etc. My take on it was, well if my English is not going to be spot on at least my knowledge of Mexican history should be.
Our anxiety grew as the weeks went by, and we didn't have definitive roles, the play kept changing, and we felt an urge to learn our lines.
We didn't know how the actors prepared for they roles here, but we had heard that you had to start rehearsals knowing your lines (this proved to be false in this case, but it had us going from feeling anxious to terrified).
Finally Luis Mario made a final trip to the UK and came back with some information about the roles, but with the announcement that there were more changes to come for the text.
On 11 May we flew from Mexico to Stratford. We arrived on a sunny day at the Old Ferry House, facing the river and just a few steps away from the Swan Theatre.
We were amazed with the landscape, the river, the swans, the little rowboats with Shakespearean names, the houses, and it would take us a few days to get our bearings on how to live in our new home.
On the 13th we had a greeting at the Swan with the other actors and we got to meet them. We didn't know what to expect, maybe they would be nice, maybe they would be snobs, who knew, but they welcomed us with open arms. And now it was time to start.
In the next entry I will start to talk about the rehearsal process but I felt the need to make an introduction to the road.
by Andres Weiss
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