Archive for July, 2010

This week we start some actor blogs from the cast of Henry V, which will open at the end of this month!

Hey folks! It’s Arielle Leverett here to share my experiences in Henry V so far. In this production I play an English boy, the French Princess’ maiden Alice, along with various English lords and soldiers. Now I have played young men before (Octavius Caesar was my quintessential little know-it-all emperor to be) so that part is not a big deal to me. The big road block be me is the fact that both the boy and Alice have scenes in French. Folks, I don’t know French. I studied Japanese for four years and quite frankly that doesn’t help.

The most terrifying thing about this was I actually had to do a cold reading, speaking French, for the audition. I’m pretty sure this was torture for everyone in the room. So a large part of my initial rehearsal process was learning how to say my lines. Luckily Katherine Mayberry, executive director and fellow cast member, is a French guru and she made a CD of my lines so I could listen to how it sounds everyday. The French is going well now. I have to say I really enjoy tricking people into thinking I know languages than I really don’t and thanks to Henry V I’m adding French to that list (boo ya!).

Aside from the sexy French I’m learning, I’m really enjoying my characters. The boy and Alice both engage in comic scenes which are a needed relief for this heavy war play. The boy is really interesting. He was originally Falstaff’s servant boy but when he dies the Boy has no choice but to go off to the war with Pistol, Nym, and Bardolf, the spunky ragamuffin trio that the boy can’t stand. I love how smart and morally sound the boy is despite his poor upbringing. I think living on the streets of London has made him resourceful. Also, being around losers like the trio has shown him the exact kind of person he doesn’t want to grow up to be. Plus I think it’s funny when the kid is the smartest one of the bunch.

My other larger role, Alice, is pretty great as well. First of all I’m happy I get to play a woman in the show, especially one who is apparently going to resemble a hot librarian. I love the dynamic between Alice and Princess Katherine. Sarah Stark (Katherine) and I have decided to make the two characters close like sisters. Of course Alice is older and worldlier which is why she knows some English. Though Katherine is Alice’s superior they have a relationship where their roles can be reversed. I decided Alice is pretty sassy and sometimes she has to catch herself when she gets snippy to people like King Henry. Anyway, this play is really fun and going very well so far. So go see Henry V so you can be smacked in the face with Shakespeare awesomeness (oh yeah, it happens). See you in August!

“The Master, the Swabber, the Boatswain and I”

Hello again out there all you Shakespeare mavens and Pigeon Creek enthusiasts – Scott Wright here and it’s my turn again…

I never cease to be amazed at what I discover working on PCSC productions.  From the beginning rehearsals where we pore over the script and reference materials working out meanings of obscure words, debating pronunciations of particular words, and reveling in the subtleties of scansion (yes, I’m a Shakespeare nerd…), to the final stages of preparation as we work (sometimes sleep-deprived…) to get the finishing touches on the show.  The perseverance and talent of the people around me in this company inspire me to seek and strive for my very best – to dig deeper than I’ve ever had to before.

One of my big challenges working on The Tempest was in the company’s well-known practice of doubling.  I was given multiple roles in Macbeth – my very first show with PCSC – but since then I’ve pretty much never been “doubled.”  Being a rookie on Macbeth, I didn’t truly appreciate what it takes to convincingly pull off dual or even triple roles.  Using costumes is the most visually direct way for an audience to differentiate between characters but as an actor, what else can I do?  It’s still my voice and my face and my body they’re looking at…!

The two characters I play in The Tempest are Alonzo, King of Naples and Stefano, “a drunken butler.”  The distinctions between them in the script manifest in the undercurrents of their social status, but mostly in the way they talk.

Alonzo speaks in a fairly tragical/poetical mode throughout the play.  He has lost the pomp and ceremony of his majesty – sure he’s still king, but being king of a few foolish people on a desert island might be thought of as something of a step down…  The order of his world where a hoard of people saw to his every human necessity and where his son would carry on his legacy seems to have been completely shattered.  His grief over the loss of his son and the Island’s magic draw his mind toward despair and madness.

Stefano on the other hand, suddenly finds himself free of the oppression of class and service, and with all the necessities of life at hand (i.e.- a small instrument and an intact and full butt of sack…) now fancies himself his own king.  The script shows him speaking in what seems to be a coarser dialect than that of the “court” and his mood seems to be considerably more buoyant – he’s first seen singing to himself, and especially when he finds two “subjects” & drinking buddies in his old friend Trinculo and the monster Caliban.  He never strays far though from the profane and violent truth of the world of the lower class…

So finding the ways I, as an actor, can make all these distinctions clear to the audience with my voice and movements has been an adventure that’s been both fun and challenging, and the ideas and suggestions of the other company members have been invaluable.

Well, I guess that’s about as tedious-brief I as can be about that…

Come see The Tempest and let us know how successful our doubling was (-or wasn’t…!).  Hope to see you!

This week we hear from Morgan Springsteen, who is currently acting in The Tempest.

As is always true in life, for everything there must be a beginning, for each path a starting point.  My interest in theatre stretches back as far as I can remember.  However, I remember distinctly the first time I stepped onto a stage and decided, almost instantaneously, that acting was my passion.  This production of The Tempest marks another first for me.  This is my first time acting in one of Shakespeare’s plays.  It is an experience unlike anything I have ever had in many ways, some which I have found challenging, all of which I have found exciting.

Working with Pigeon Creek requires a level of self-management that I had not yet experienced working in educational theatre at Grand Valley.  A major reason for this is that this show was ensemble directed.  Ultimately, what we as actors choose to put on the stage is our choice.  However, we are dependent on the cast as a whole to make sure that everything looks cohesive and makes sense.  In order to be a functional and effective cog in the machine, you must be willing to take constructive criticism you’re your peers and not be afraid to give it out.  As a novice to Shakespearean acting, it was difficult at first to pipe up and give direction.  However, as my understanding of the process grew, so too did my confidence.

Another thing that sets this experience apart is that I am playing multiple small roles, on top of understudying the role of Ariel.  Trying to flesh out the characters of a salty mouthed sailor (the Boatswain), an eager and optimistic lord in the company of the king (Adrian), and a rainbow goddess at the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda (Iris) requires a keen sense of contrast.  It has been fun finding the nuances of each character and discovering what makes each one stand out from the others.

On top of these three parts, it has been an added challenge to keep track and learn all of the things Ariel is in charge of throughout the play.  I am still working to find the balance between following the character Kate has fleshed out and still allowing room for my own interpretation.  I am excited to tackle the role in a few weeks when we head to Toledo, and I only hope my performance lives up to Kate’s.

This truly has been a hugely valuable experience.  I’m sure I will find myself comparing this production with new theatre experiences as they come along.  I am so glad I got to work with this amazing group of people and put together a show that I not only feel much attached to, but extremely proud of.