After a weekend back home in Manchester it's bizarre to be in Stratford again, the cultural shift is so profound it's funny. Something that the average audience member probably wouldn't fully grasp is the intensity of the work and the tightness of the community for the actors in Stratford. Most of us live within 200 yards of the theatre and can roll out of bed, into rehearsals then into the Dirty Duck pub with zero effort. One of the cast members remarked that it's a bit like '"an actors' holiday camp".
Anyway, we are all mega excited to be back and had loads to think about since last Friday's read through. The actors who are playing spirits have been rehearsing with the movement director and periodically come out of their room with crimson faces and dripping with sweat. None of us are quite sure what they are being put through but they are very likely to be the most athletic group of sprites in the last 100 years of British theatre.
We are quickly forming four healthily separate groups as Greg works with us on our individual sequences or 'streams of the play':
- Prospero and Ariel
- Antonio and the Lords
- The island spirits and Caliban
- Us - Stephano and Trinculo, the idiots
I say healthily separate because having groups like this could be detrimental to a company feeling after a while but in this case, we will get several different types of energy running through the play which reflects the culture of each group of characters. Plus, everyone is very sociable outside of rehearsals so it's great.
Having spent last week around the table reading each other's roles, we have now gravitated to a circle of chairs where we sit and read our own roles. This can sound a bit boring, but there is something very freeing about not being expected to use the stage space yet. We simply have to listen and respond. I think this is very clever of Greg as we will find ourselves more and more confident with the language before we get on our feet.
Greg qualified his decision to work this way by telling us that 'the movement is in the argument '. I think that is a brilliant way to put it. The Hungarian choreographer, Rudolf Laban always said "man moves on order to satisfy a need". This is the same thing. If we know what we want from each other and play those intentions, our bodies will follow and we won't have to contrive our physical responses, they will be natural reactions to where we are in our negotiations with other characters...wow...deep. Time for a cup of tea after that one I think!