Entries tagged with “In My Mind’s Eye”.


Introducing  Brad Sytsma (Diomedes, Servant)! Troilus and Cressida is Brad’s first production with PCSC, so he’s answering round one of our Acting Questions.

1) How Do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?

This is my first Shakespeare show, so I can’t say that I have a typical way to prepare a Shakespeare character.  I think I pretty much followed my usual routine where I started by looking at the dialogue and figuring out my character was thinking, and what other people think about my character.  Diomedes doesn’t really say a lot, so I also dove into some of the other materials written about the Trojan war to figure out who he is, and what he wants.  All in all, researching this character was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and very helpful in my performance.

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

I think the most helpful part of the PCSc rehearsal process was the discussion.  Shakespeare can be difficult to understand.  The heightened language can be challenging to wade through and understand exactly what a character’s thoughts and motivations are.  Being able to discuss different thoughts and opinions on the approach to delivery and action was extremely helpful in figuring out how to perform in my first Shakespeare play.

3) What do you for fun outside of theatre?

More theatre.

4) What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?

I am currently a Give a Wow Specialist for Terryberry, an employee recognition company.  I design websites in conjunction for employee recognition programs for businesses worldwide.  I would love to make theatre my day job, whether that be writing, acting, or even directing, I would love to be able to spend all of my time in a theatre.

5) What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?

I will probably audition for some of the other shows happening in the area.  I’m also writing a series of 10 minute plays, two of which won contests and were produced this summer, that I would like to try and produce sometime this fall.

Introducing  Kerissa Bradley (Menelaus, Helenus, Helen)! Troilus and Cressida is Kerissa’s first production with PCSC, so she’s answering round one of our Acting Questions.

1) How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?

When I am preparing a Shakespearean character I do research on the actual people. I look for what status they were, how some artists portray them, and what they are most known for in history. I also go through the script and write down how other people describe my character. If the character was made up, I go through the script and see what other character’s say about my character and then choose two animal qualities to incorporate into my character.

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

What I find most helpful about PCSC’s standard rehearsal process is the text work. It was really helpful to break down each scene into beats and paraphrase the lines, it made the scene more clear and the beat changes became more distinct.

3) What do you do for fun outside of theatre?

Outside of theatre I like to make jewelry, hang out with friends, and go swimming in Holland.

4) What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?

I work at the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum as a visitor service associate. I want my day job to be acting and doing the public relations work for a theatre.

5) What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?

I will be in Much Ado About Nothing at GVSU in the fall.

Introducing  Brandon Marino (Agamemnon, Paris)! Troilus and Cressida is Brandon’s first production with PCSC, so he’s answering round one of our Acting Questions.

1) How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?

How do I go about preparing a Shakespearean Character? Well everyone has their own way, but what works for me is looking at it like a regular character, When I was younger I used to think everyone was refined or goofy and those were the only Shakespearean characters. But now I realize that is not the case, they are people that act a certain way because of something, and the something is usually your choice as an actor, the only difference between doing a character for a modern piece and doing a character for a Shakespeare piece, to me, is the language. The trick with any character is to know your history for the time, to not focus exactly on what you say but how you say it or the subtext of what you’re saying.

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

What I find extremely helpful about the Pigeon Creek company is the people involved with it and the people who run it, From what I’ve seen a lot of them are teachers or people in teaching or mentoring positions. This means that when you need help you always have it, and it means that people bring forth a lot of knowledge to the table that someone might previously not have known. It also means everyone has a good work ethic and attitude and that rubs off on people. Also, everyone is a theater nerd, and that’s great because that means everyone is passionate and wants to help you be that way as well. Most of all though, everyone is welcoming and it feels very much like a family, which is a great work environment.

3) What do you do for fun outside of theatre?

I think people ask actors the question of what they like to do outside of theatre a lot. My answer to that question is unique I like to think. I like science, I was actually a chem major with a pre-med focus before switching to theatre. the reason for the switch was simply because I decided not to be scared of a career that isn’t stable and to follow what I really loved. But because of my love for science, I tend to read a lot of science books in my spare time, also comic books, just to confirm those suspicions of my nerdiness.

4) What do you want to be your day job?

My day job is a student. Currently, however, I am working two jobs, one, at Mcdonalds which is as great as it sounds. And the second is actually me working with a children’s theatre. I think, the ultimate goal of any actor is to make a living acting. My personal goal is to do that, probably with a traveling company either doing children’s shows or Shakespeare. I would do this for a few years, and then I would try to settle down somewhere like New York or LA and truly try to follow that actor dream, but that’s real long term, right now it’s graduation of college and then a travelling company.

5) What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?

My plans in the theatre for the next few months are limited because of my going back to school, obviously I would audition for the upcoming plays, one of which is The Merry Wives of Windsor, But as of right now, I have no roles after Paris and Agamemnon.

Matt Fowler (Elbow, Abhors0n, 1st Gentleman, Friar Peter) talks about his first experience with ensemble directing.

1) How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?

I work well with an outward-in approach to Shakespeare.  How does my voice initially react to the script?  How do I feel my body wanting to move to compliment my voice?  I read each line 10 times, trying 10 different things for each one and then pick my favorite line read from each one.  Then I read each line another ten times after I sleep and wake up again to solidify them in my memory.  Is there something physical I want to try like a new walk or a new gesture? Be fearless!  Quite honestly, the thing that has worked best for me is to start with a feeling; How do you want the audience to feel and how should you accomplish that?  Ultimately when audience members forget an actor’s lines, name, or even what he or she looks like, they will remember the feelings the actor gave them for decades.  I approach every role with a specific feeling that I want to share with the audience.  Surprised?  Amused?  Excited?  Anxious?  Compassionate?  There are a ton of options out there, and the way to share this feeling is not always apparent, but a solid goal in mind certainly helps me; as I’ve learned before, exhaust the ordinary to get to the extraordinary.  The things that are most important at the end of the day are that I commit to a role 100% and that I take pride in a performance.

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

This is my first experience with an ensemble directed show, and it is not quite how I expected it to be.  The thing I learned most heavily in Measure for Measure is to become self-validated in my work instead of relying on the validation of others.  I thought that an ensemble directed production would allow me to run wild and free With any impulse I have for a character, but I quickly discovered just how little confidence I have within my own inhibitions and fears.  After listening to Rocky’s theme and being in a fighting montage, I got into the habit of challenging myself to discover more about my characters with restless disatistifatcion;  I could pat myself on the back when performances came around.  Now I am proud of the work I’ve done and I have learned a lot from this experience.

3) What do you do for fun outside of theatre?

I enjoy animating, backpacking, and going on epic adventures with this production’s stage manager, Erin Feiner.

4) What do you want to be your day job?

My dream is to become a motivational speaker.  I want to speak to the young people of the world about self-esteem and body image issues.  I think I’m just the right person to spread positivity and inspiration into the world.

5) What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?

I will be appearing in Grand Valley State University’s Much ado About Nothing as Don John and Verges in the fall and I will be directing Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang right after.

Stephen Wright (Claudio/Barnadine/Justice/Boy) answers our first round of acting questions about the rehearsal process for Measure for Measure.

1) How do you typically go about preparing a Shakesperean character?

The first thing that I do is read the play, then watch a film adaptation or two and read a summary (to make sure I’ve got the story). Then I begin memorizing lines. If I’m unsure about the meaning of a line or a word I look it up on Dictionary.com. Then I start asking myself questions, questions like, “Who is this person?” “What are his relationships to the other characters?” “What kind of psychological center is this character; head, heart, pelvic, stomach?” “What kind of animal is this character most like?”

One I’ve asked myself a number of these questions I like to get what I am doing on its feet and run it with others. I think that my characters are most fully explored when I’m given the freedom to engage with the other actor and let the character evolve, piece by piece. Getting to this point where I can engage requires a lot of concentration, so honing my concentration is part of this process. “Finding the game”, finding the game that characters play with each other in every scene helps me to build both this concentration and my character.

Along the way I keep asking questions but, essentially, I like to get my character on its feet and play around with the scene.

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

I find the suggestions of my fellow actors to be the most helpful part of the rehearsal process. For instance, one actor suggested that I deliver a certain section of text to the audience rather than just to another actor in the scene. This unlocked the whole scene for me and gave me deep insight into my character. This simple suggestion gave me a little spark from which I’ve begun to construct my character.

3) What do you like to do for fun outside of theatre?

Outside of theater I mostly hang out with my girlfriend and watch television. I watch way too much Fringe (which is fantastic) and Star Trek, but enjoy other shows too. I also play guitar, am part of several organizations on Aquinas College’s campus, write plays and poetry, and volunteer at American Model United Nations (among other things).

4) What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?

I recently gained employment at The Gluten Free Bar, a company that makes gluten free protein bars. In a shift, with others, I’ll help to mix the bars, roll them out in a pan, cut them, store them and package the previous day’s bars. I’ll also attend to general kitchen duties. I really like this job and my co-workers. It’s one of the better one’s I’ve had.

My career plans are a bit sporadic. I want to do many different things and often daydream about them. I know that I want to continue writing plays and that I would like to see them produced. After I graduate from Aquinas College I want to teach abroad, probably in Russia or Taiwan. Someday, even if it is thirty years from now, I’d like to teach Philosophy or another subject at the college level. But beside these things it’s all quite up in the air because I have a lot of different career interests.

5) What theater plans do you have over the next couple months?
Over the next couple months I plan to write several plays. Before summer’s end it’s my goal to finish writing first drafts of two ten full length plays, two one acts and a few ten minute plays. I am also considering auditioning for more Pigeon Creek shows!

This week, Macbeth cast member Kate Tubbs (Lennox, Messenger) answers our acting questions.

1. How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?
Many people I know view the complete works of Shakespeare as the bible, and for an actor it is. Text is key and king when playing Shakespearean characters. Speaking, reading and acting Shakespeare can be difficult, because the language adds another layer that an actor must dig through when preparing a role. You simply cannot act Shakespeare if you do not understand the words. Once you understand his Early Modern English you can start to fall back on other acting methods or techniques to develop your character. After that he’s just like any other playwright, and if you find and pick up his clues into your character, you’re well on the way!

2. What do you find to be the most helpful part of PCSC’s standard rehearsal process?
This production of Macbeth is my first with PCSC, and our rehearsal process has been much different than PCSC standard. This show is ensemble directed, meaning there is no director. Each cast member is also asked to help direct the show; any decisions or problems must be dealt with by the cast as a whole. I love collaborating with others on almost everything I do; and working so closely with other castmates allows an actor to really fine tune her work. When you receive feedback from a few different people it can seem daunting, but overall it makes for a much more flushed out performance. I’ve really enjoyed our rehearsals so far and it’s been very welcoming to join a cast that wants your feedback and your thoughts on all creative decisions.

3. What do you like to do for fun outside of theatre?
I like to meddle in lots of different art forms, including painting, photography, illustration and book making. I love film, literature, music (listening and singing)…anything that is a creative outlet. I also do yoga and love the great outdoors. Camping, hiking, swimming….I’m just kind of a hippie…

4. What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?
In February I started a new job in Brand Communication at Steelcase. I assist the PR team and 360 team (which publishes the quarterly magazine 360) with a little bit of everything, but mostly administrative & support tasks. My dream day job wouldn’t really be a job. I’d love to be able to honestly introduce myself as an artist, someone who survives by creating. My office would be my studio, or wherever I am inspired. My boss would be me and my only deadlines would be the bottom of the page.

5. What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?
Don’t know yet! Anybody know of upcoming auditions?!

Pigeon Creek newcomer Dynasty (Third Witch, Donalbain, Menteith, Second Murderer) talks about her experience rehearsing Macbeth.

1. How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?
When first starting to prepare for a Shakespearean character I make sure I have a full and clear understanding of the play itself. By understanding the play’s intent I am then able to understand the intent of both my character and other characters as well. I find that this helps to create a smooth and clear message to both the other actors in the scene and audience members, painting a better picture of what’s going on scene by scene. After getting the broader picture I try to fine tune it buy assessing each one of my character’s lines as well as going over scansion and pronunciation. Another thing I like to do with pieces by Shakespeare is to go over each word breaking down consonant and vowel make sure that they are highlighted throughout my speech so that audience members can clearly hear each word that is spoken.

What I find to be the most influential in character development, whether it be a Shakespearean character or any other, is to really do my best to embody the character I am playing; meaning behave, move, and have the energy level and needs that particular character would have.

2. What do you find to be the most helpful part of PCSC’s standard rehearsal process?
This is actually my first time working with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and I find that most helpful throughout the rehearsal process is the feedback that you get from all of the other actors. we are all directors as well as actors within the production. I find it helpful that the same person I’m out there acting with is also collaborating on the direction of the scene. I feel like this method helps to bring all the actors on to the same page at a quicker pace.
 We also collaborate on talking about the scenes together and discussing the intent as a whole and that really helps to know that everyone is understanding the material as a whole 

3. What do you like to do for fun outside of theatre?
This question has always been a struggle for me to answer. I feel like there’s not enough time in a lifetime to do all of the things I like to do. With that being said, I probably like to do to many things so I guess I will just list a couple of my favorite things. I love to travel places I’ve never been, hike, camp, fish, dance, play the guitar, sing, shop, have game nights, and be lazy.

4. What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?
Well I don’t have a day job per se I have a night job. I work at an adult foster home for developmentally and mentally disabled women. it is quite challenging and often fun but ultimately I want to be a psychiatrist working with the mentally ill.

5. What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?
Acting wise I’m always an open book and ready for anything that comes up. Sometimes I have to work on pacing myself and not doing too many things at one time. As of now I have a couple film projects in my future. And nothing planned so far within the theatre but I am excited for what may come. I have been away from the acting world for a while and I am more than ready to dive right in!

This summer, PCSC has started a new means of gathering the inside scoop of our actors in their processes. In addition to the normal blog entries you read on here, there will also be a series of questions posed to our actors. Enjoy.

This week: Repertory Company Member, Kat Hermes

*****

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

I start with the basics; looking at the way the character uses text, at what the character says about themself and what the other characters say about them.

Then I start to physicalize what I now know about the character. What works best for me is playing with images, sometimes drawn from the real world and sometimes from pop culture. I usually end up with two or three distinct images and build the physical character using parts of each. For example, my most recent role with Pigeon Creek, Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost, was part Antonio Banderas, part Captain Jack Sparrow and part a guy I went to graduate school with. For Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the character I’m currently preparing, I’m looking at a lot of images of magical women in fantasy, such as Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings and Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

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

Typically the first time we run through the entire show we do what’s called a “Ren Run” (short for Renaissance Run), where we put the show on its feet as though we were performing for an audience, regardless of how polished the staging is for each individual scene. This gives us a chance to get an early sense of the feel of the show as a whole, without stopping and starting, and allows us to test how well each of us really knows the story the we’re telling. I always make interesting discoveries during the “Ren Run”. While working Romeo and Juliet this spring, the “Ren Run” was the first time it really hit home how little time Romeo and I spent onstage together. Sean Kelley (who played Romeo) and I rarely even saw each other backstage, and I found that as the run went on I started to miss “checking in” with him. We only had two little moments together between scenes (after the balcony scene and before we enter together after our wedding night), so pretty much everything that we needed to communicate to each other, both as actors and characters, had to happen onstage. That sense of intimacy and urgency in the face of distance was part of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship that I had thought about how to convey, but when we put the show together I realized that Shakespeare had already done that work for me, that I didn’t have to “act” it, just let it happen.

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

I read a lot. I watch a lot of Netflix. I sleep.

4. What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?

I work full time as an assistant teacher at a daycare and accredited preschool, with ages ranging from infant to school-aged. Though I love teaching and working with kids and will probably always do so in some capacity, I’d like acting and costume design to be my day jobs, eventually.

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

In addition to my work with Pigeon Creek, I’m also a board member of Dog Story Theater in downtown Grand Rapids, so you’ll be able to find me there most weekends working the box office. I’m also thinking of venturing into non-Shakespearean theater with a close and talented friend of mine, but those plans are still too vague for a formal announcement.

This summer, PCSC has started a new means of gathering the inside scoop of our actors in their processes. In addition to the normal blog entries you read on here, there will also be a series of questions posed to our actors. Enjoy.

This week: Repertory Company Member, Scott Wright
*****

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

The first step is most often just carefully reading the play – more than once – sometimes well before the first rehearsal…! The text usually has everything you need to know about a character, and Shakespeare almost always gives you plenty of details. What a character says reveals much about him but there is much more detail available – usually in the things other characters say – or don’t say – about your character, maybe in the stage directions, or sometimes in what the character says about himself. So while you’re going through the text in those first read-thrus and early rehearsals you have to pay attention to those character details, who says them, how and why they say it.

Some roles are very well known, famous characters and much has been said and written about them. Scholarly analysis is sometimes less useful than the work of other actors and directors, but it’s always informative.

Some roles are historical characters whose lives and activities are a matter of record. A little digging can glean a great many details about who someone truly was – though Shakespeare was more often interested in drama than history…

Whether a character speaks in verse or prose is a very important clue to a character’s social status and/or emotional state. Sometimes dialects or accents are written into the script giving excellent and sometimes very funny clues to a character’s class or attitudes. But then there are characters about whom very little is said or offered by the playwright. What those characters say and the situations they are placed in is about all you get and you get to fill in lots of details yourself.

We ask ourselves questions about the character – “What is the character doing (feeling, etc.)?” and “What does the character want?” and use the other tools available to us as actors. The answers to those questions give us actions to play that will bring our characters to life.

The other players, as they work through building their characters, give you feedback and active/motive stuff that helps you discover more about your character and how much or they “want.”

Eventually though, you have to get on your feet and try some things out – try it on and see how it feels. Pigeon Creek favorite Heather Hartnett has described the process as a little like making a coat – cutting it out, sewing it, adjusting when it doesn’t fit the first time, trying it again, & etc. I think that’s a great metaphor, but even more than just trying on different hats or masks, I find that part of what we try out are the strong feelings and larger-than-life actions that are often part of our characters’ realities. Those actions & emotions aren’t always familiar or comfortable for me the actor. Once I put the script down and start putting together a sequence of the character’s thoughts and actions and feelings within the action of the play, I find I discover even more about the character and what he has to say.

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

I really enjoy the very early rehearsals where we go through the script, consult different editions, talk about the relationships between the characters and what’s actually happening in a given scene. Going through and working out the scansion in the verse lines and those sort of Shakespeare – geek-y things.

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

I am an avid sailor and sailboat-racing enthusiast. I race as often as I can in my Rebel – a somewhat traditional 16-foot one-design sloop which is also a great day-sailing boat. My son Soren says he prefers sailing on our Hobie 16 catamaran – I think because it’s just so much faster and more exciting – especially when it’s breezy. We do more day-sailing on the Hobie, mostly because there’s just less opportunity to race.

I am also a long-time rugby fanatic. I’m currently a referee and referee-coach/evaluator, but I’ve been involved in rugby either as player, coach, or referee for about 20 years now. I don’t play very often anymore – and when I do my body protests mightily the next day, but as we say, “It’s the pain that let’s you know that you’re alive.”

4. What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?

I work for Distinctive Machine Corp. in Rockford, where I am the CAD/CAM/IS Manager. I’m a tool-maker by trade and qualified as a journeyman building plastic-injection molds. DMC builds metal-stamping dies, and I do CAD work and support the company’s computer systems that do computer-aided design and machining. I have often thought over the years that I would like to design and/or build boats. Especially wooden sailboats. They’re like pieces of art – beautiful and functional, and the building material lends them a sort of mysterious, magical quality – though I’d probably enjoy designing and building boats in modern materials too.

I think I’d like to be a professional actor too… not just making a little bit here and there at it and being referred to as, and being expected to behave and perform like one – but actually making a living at it. I’m not entirely sure I have the courage to be a struggling, starving artist at this stage of my life and I’ve got plenty of excuses for why I can’t – “There’s not enough opportunity in this area…”, I have a lot of other obligations, & etc. – and plenty of self-doubt… But then, “For the believer no proof is necessary – For the unbeliever, no proof is sufficient…”

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

When Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival’s Richard III is finished I’ll get a little break and then start rehearsals for Pigeon Creek’s All’s Well That Ends Well that will hit Grand Rapids sometime in January. I hope to win a role in one of PCSC’s spring or summer tours, and of course there’ll be a few other local opportunities available too…

This summer, PCSC has started a new means of gathering the inside scoop of our actors in their processes. In addition to the normal blog entries you read on here, there will also be a series of questions posed to our actors. Enjoy.

This week: Repertory Company Member, Elle M. Lucksted

*****

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

My character preparation involves reading and re-reading lines, paying attention to who my scene partners are and establishing connections with their characters. Developing a back-story–especially for less significant characters–helps create motivations for all of their actions. By that, I mean putting motivation behind every move (e.g.: why is my character walking away/toward this person at this moment?) Physical motivation, emotional motivation, whether the words my character speaks are sincere, sarcastic, flat, designed to pull a particular emotion out of my partner, etc. Specific to Shakespeare, of course, is prose/verse writing. If my character switches between the two throughout the play, you must pay strict attention to which style they speak with which characters and why.

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

I have a feeling that this answer will be unanimous, but the most valuable part of Pigeon Creek’s rehearsals is the ensemble (Specifically the ensemble directing of shows, but I mean “ensemble” as in the entire process is team-based.) That means that as an actor, you get productive feedback from a lot of directions, but also that everyone contributes equally to create the final product and has the opportunity to have their voice heard in the process. Aside from that, PC spends a good deal of time working through the text before jumping into action. Beginning rehearsals often consist of read-throughs and partner line-work so that we can build and understand the words first and foremost, which is so important with Shakespeare.

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

I like to travel, read, write, amateurly analyze politics (I run a political and a feminist blog), and stumble upon internet things. I’ll choose going out with friends or staying in with a movie depending on my mood.)

4. What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?

I am a full-time student by day, supplemented by unpaid internships. I guess I would say my “job” is my current internship at my university’s Women’s Center. I am the undergraduate VAWA Grant intern (Violence Against Women Act) –a federal grant that funds projects and events for Domestic Violence Awareness month. If I were paid for this position, I could do it for the rest of my life. My ultimate dream-job is working in Human Rights or Social Work with domestic violence victims and survivors, which I will accomplish once I have my master’s degree down the road!

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

Unfortunately, my acting plans have taken a backseat to my academics as of late (I’m a senior psychology major doing psychology and graduate school prep-type things.) But my internship with the Women’s Center will give exposure to some great theatrical involvement this fall. ReAct is an on-campus theatre troupe that promotes anti-violence through scene performances, so we’ll be working closely with them at times. We are also hosting a production of Remote Control, an interactive play designed to raise questions and encourage men (and women) to step into abuse-prevention roles. Besides that, I will be happily/nostalgically attending upcoming Pigeon Creek and Grand Valley performances to cheer on my friends and cast-mates.