The shape of things
October 22, 2012
Well here we are. Stratford-upon-Avon. I'm sat in my living room, in my digs, overlooking the river. It's beautiful. Both the view and the feeling of being here again. These last two weeks have been incredibly taxing on us physically and emotionally. And the shows are looking good!
The phrase 'the shape of things' plays around in my mind. We start rehearsals with no shape in our minds. The director usually begins with a mental shape that he or she will investigate with our help. All actors think they will influence the shape of the play, but it's actually the other way around. We need to fit the play - the play never fits us.
At the end of five weeks we're running the first and second half of the play and a more concrete shape makes its presence known.
'Oh! THIS is the play I'm in' I think to myself. My face starts to change, my beard grows, my hair grows. We've been doing acrobatics core workouts that make us sweat buckets. Bodies getting stronger, tummy flatter…changing shape. I look around on our last day of rehearsals in London for The Orphan of Zhao and I marvel at the beauty in the room. We're from all walks of life. Every colour, every size, every shape.
Matthew Aubrey makes me laugh with every word he says. Adam Burton wields his assassin's sword with the same joy as his wit and camaraderie. Joe Dixon is a force of nature that I'm eager to learn from - hilarious too.
Jake Fairbrother proves every day that he's as beautiful on the inside as he is on the outside. Lloyd Hutchinson is a blast to be around and so impressive to watch work.
Chris Lew Kum Hoi, my boy!, moves us all to tears repeatedly in his final scene at the end of the play. Siu Hun Li has the warmest smile and more charm than I could ever hope to get. Patrick Romer, the fountain of knowledge of all things theatre - I can't begin to tell you how valuable a mind and talent like that is to us young wannabes.
James Tucker breathes pure beauty into every syllable he utters; he could make the phone book sound engaging. Lovely Graham Turner brings a smile to my face the minute he walks into the room…his incredible Cheng Ying breaks our hearts every time he sets foot on stage.
Stephen Ventura has, in my opinion, the greatest laugh in the world and his Emperor of China is a work of meticulous preparation.
I could talk to Philip Whitchurch all day long…about theatre, cooking, movies. I could laugh with Lucy Briggs-Owen all day, forever, while her Princess is a work of heart wrenching clarity.
Nia Gwynne made me weep uncontrollably when she sang her lullaby to a plastic baby doll!
Gorgeous Susan Momoko Hingley works harder and with more skill than I could ever do myself. Her 'Maid' scene will be talked about for a long time to come.
Joan Iyiola brightens up the room the minute she enters.
Will Tuckett's gentle and warm personality make me look forward to every movement session.
While finally Greg Doran our director, whose integrity and decency of character continues to effortlessly receive all our loyalty and love, gently brings our different shapes together to form the picture we hope to present on opening night. A picture where you no longer notice the colours and shapes that makes it up. Courageous. Genius.
We have a beautiful family. Every shape. Each shape, a different colour. Each colour another reason to wake up and smile. The shape of things to come.
by Youssef Kerkour
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