Archive for March, 2014

Frequent PCSC actor, Kate Tubbs (Puck) talks about the challenges of creating a non-human character.

Puck is the first Shakespearean Fairy character that I’ve played, so preparing for this role has created a lot of new questions for me and has been an exciting challenge. The first step in creating a non-human character is to determine how your character is different from humans, especially the characters he/she interacts with. In creating Puck, I started by deciding how my character is different emotionally and physically.

Fairy characters don’t feel emotions the same way that humans do. While Fairy emotions can be extreme, they are not as complex as human emotions. For instance, a fairy can get extremely angry or sad, uncontrollably happy or tired, but he/she can’t feel complex emotions like shame or regret, and cannot empathize or sympathize with humans. So this informs how I interact with and treat the human characters. Puck’s detachment makes him a playful plot advancer who is intensely curious to see things play out.

Similarly, magical or non-human characters have different relationships with their environment. Puck moves differently than humans. He positions himself differently and has different opinions on what is appropriate/normal for interactions. He also has a small amount of magical power. Sometimes he can bend the laws of physics, other times he can control the flora and fauna around them. This has to be a part of my physical performance.

Overall, I tend to think of non human characters as less limited and usually more powerful than human characters. This creates a lot of opportunities for actors to give a unique performance because we can make bigger or more drastic choices. We can raise the stakes much higher and go farther outside of ourselves. We can be as weird or crazy or active as we like. So we have a much larger foundation to build our character on. Our character’s pool of resources is larger and deeper so there are so many things to try.

But even though there are lots of new possibilities when playing a non-human character, in some ways, it is very similar to creating a regular character. You still must understand your character’s storyline — his arc throughout the play, what he does and why and how. Non-human characters don’t necessarily always have exciting story lines or arcs themselves, but they do often have a lot to do with plot development. So the actors have a myriad of whys and hows to choose from. That’s what makes these roles so much fun!

Introducing  Antonio Royce Copeland (Lysander)! A Midsummer Night’s Deam is Antonio’s first production with PCSC, so he’s answering round one of our Acting Questions.

1. How do your typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?

I approach every character I play from a similar jumping off point. Our actions as human beings are based on needs and wants (be they realistic, necessary to survival, or otherwise), so it is necessary for me to flesh out all of these first. Then I have to determine whether or not they are fantastical or within my reach, and just what I’m willing to do to get them. Once a character is driven, and those things are rooted in something; the actor – or vessel as I like to describe our part as performers – can personally connect with the character begins to take shape. As always much respect is due to the text (particularly when good ol’ Billy is involved), so you take care to fully understand The “givens” (i.e. who, what, where, when, and why). Once I get a grip on the environment I’m playing in; I focus on how the character is seen by those around him (or her if I’m lucky), and I decide which things are true, which things I’m aware of and how I react to said person as a result. The finishing layers such as physical traits, accents, and the rhythm/music of the dialogue, all fill out the role and let it become a living, breathing entity unto itself. So basically I read the script and wait for the director to tell me what to do. ;-)

2. What do you find to be most helpful part of PCSC’s standard rehearsal process?

It’s very apparent that the members of PCSC are also educators in one way shape or form. The rehearsal process is a safe space where EVERYONE is encouraged to provide input into not only their specific role, but anywhere they feel they can help. I imagine it’s what a brain storming session involving the writers for 30 Rock or The Golden Girls must have been like! Just someone saying, “it’s okay… just let your juices flow.”

3. What do you like to do for fun outside of theater?

I enjoy baking, and the Disney Channel…it doesn’t go much deeper than that…

4. What is your day job?

What is that?

5. What theater plans do you have in the next couple of months?

I plan to be singing and dancing wherever anyone will permit me. I feel the most like myself when I’m pretending to be someone else, so be it a gig at Tibbits Opera House (fingers crossed), or on the corner of 28th and Division if you belt it, they will come.  Or at least honk or throw something at you as they pass by!

Introducing  Chad Marriott (Flute/Peaseblossom)! A Midsummer Night’s Deam is Chad’s first production with PCSC, so he’s answering round one of our Acting Questions.

You must respect the Bard -  that is first and foremost.

When preparing for your character he has already done most of your work for you, but why did good old Billy have to be so smart? I’m not sure, but I know when I begin working on Shakespeare I start by figuring out what my character is saying. From there I figure out what they want and decipher how they are trying to get it.

After doing my text work I get to do, what I consider, the fun part. I put my personal twist on the character. For example, during Much Ado about Nothing (directed by PCSC’s own Katherine Mayberry at the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, 2013) I spent a lot of time figuring out what Conrad was doing and what he wanted, essentially what his role was in his group. After that I decided how my character felt about that. I played around with things until I found one that fit and took that and ran.

One of the interesting things with Shakespeare is that he forces you to use external techniques. I’m an internal process guy, but Shakespeare makes me do more external exercises than I typically would do.

At Pigeon Creek I’ve found that the directors’ openness has been really helpful. Knowing that I’m not going to be told “Do that again, but different” is definitely a helpful thing. They are straightforward with you, but not rude. This adds up to an encouraging environment for creativity.

I’ve also enjoyed working with a multitude of acting exercises. I once had a professor who said that he was giving us tools and if we liked them we could keep them and if we didn’t we could throw it away. We’ve worked on things like Laban’s movement tendencies, text work, and internal things, like head, heart, gut, and groin.

This is a great trait for a company to have because not every actor has the same process and being able to get across to all of the actors is vital to a show.