Greetings new and continual followers of The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and our informative blog, Chris S. Teller here, I am playing the roles of Caliban and Sebastian in our upcoming production of The Tempest. I really want to touch on two major elements that really intertwine during our particular rehearsal process, and they are topics that previous entries have touched on; they are movement and the ensemble direction.
To start the The Tempest is a very mystical piece as one may have gathered from possibly reading the play or from my fellow actor’s previous entries. This ideal of magic has really created a focus in rehearsal on movement for not only individuals like me portraying a monster, or Kate giving Ariel specialized moves, but from the entire cast; which in turn has really in a way created a whole new level of demand in the ensemble direction. It is one thing to be able to give notes to another actor on perhaps vocalization or textual information, but we all now have to examine and watch everyone’s movements. Without giving away too much of what we are working on (which is really awesome) there are scenes where we have to react and move as one group, or be individually overcome by Ariel or Prospero’s spells. This is all done in order to ultimately create magical conventions to spark our audience’s imagination, bringing them into the world with us.
One example I can give, and pardon me for being vague as to not spoil the beauty of the scene or the hard work that the actors have put in, but there is a scene we all were just not quite convinced was working in terms of movement. One of the characters is being led around by the magic of another “invisible” character, and one day it finally clicked. By simply changing the movement style of one of the characters, it completely changed the believability of the power and invisibility of the other character. It was one of those moments that the ensemble could relish because at that point we had all established a new way of doing something as a group, and would incorporate it into other scenes that required this “invisibility.”
This moment touches on the major challenge that can come up for an ensemble directed scene, and that to a point the group has to agree on every convention we create to establish continuity of the play. This democratic agreement amongst the cast at times can require, what seems to be long and arduous discussion, but pays off to be very useful to the production’s imagery as a whole.
I hope that you all come out and see the work that this ensemble has put together as a team, in which we have created a truly magical world, with some surprises at the end that require the audience’s imagination to take control.