April 27, 2012
Sorry it's been so long since my last blog! It is getting quite hectic now, as is normal in rehearsals as more new ideas are thrown about and more roles are being cast.
I am now playing Titinius as well as Decius Brutus. Delighted. So, now am trying to imagine a life for this character who only really speaks in one scene and that scene is also the scene where he dies! A rather quick character arc, that.
Have been working with the fight director on death scenes and the assassination scene. I do not think I am giving anything away when I tell you that there are a few moments of quite shocking violence in the play.
It got me thinking how we often think that violence is a relatively modern thing. Well, the Romans could do violence awfully well. If any of you have seen The Hunger Games (the blockbuster teen movie with an element of violence), you may be aware of the Ancient Roman influences in that film/book.
There are the obvious ones like there being some kind of arena and gladiatorial element. But there is also character names in the film which are characters or referred to in Julius Caesar! Cinna, Portia, and Cato. The place where it is set is called Panem, which is a reference to Panem et Circenses which is a latin expression meaning, Bread and Circuses. This refers to the techniques utilised by the Roman Empire to keep the people happy and docile. The Romans are still with us. Reaching up from the past and tapping us on the shoulder.
There is the feeling as we work on the play, that we are doing a play that is very current. Our production is set in Africa. With all the references to violent political turmoil. This also means an accent. Which means Penny Dyer, our accent coach has become everybody's new best friend. To be truthful and clear is the aim and we are all working hard to achieve it.
All actors are wary of spending money, because we never know when the next job is coming. So we have all been mostly bringing in our own lunches, saving money and time during our break. What this also means, is that there are nigh on 20 actors and crew all talking and shouting and laughing and eating.
It is sometimes chaotic but also invigorating. It is like a little street party in the middle of the day. By the way, if anyone thinks that it sounds like, 'Hi diddle dee dee, an actor's life for me' let me remind you that most of the cast are dripping wet from dancing in the morning, one of us has to learn to play a new instrument, most of us are learning not only our lines but understudy lines as well and we are doing this all in a foreign accent! In addition: voice calls, costume calls, fight calls... Ok, I admit it, we are all very lucky!
Am off to learn a few more lines. I have loads of post-its with my lines written upon them stuck up all around my flat to help me learn it. Am not sure it helps but it makes me feel better when I start to panic. But the only way to learn is to be tested. Which I hate. Because the first time you do it, one invariably sound like a slacker who has done no work at all and are a bit rubbish. Sigh. Ah well, as the Romans would have said: 'aut viam inveniam aut faciam' (I will either find a way or make one).
Time for a little more humiliation on the road to acting glory!
by Andrew French
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