Entries tagged with “Kathleen Bode”.

Kathleen Bode as King Henry IV

I have the first lines in this play.

That was a terrifying thought for me.

It is not the first time that I have said the opening lines of a show for Pigeon Creek, but this time it seemed so much more challenging. My physical presence, voice, and stage presence for this moment needed to be larger than life. It has to set the tone for the entire play and everything that follows (not to mention sum up Richard II). Yikes.

I began with my physical presence. As I have said before, this is my biggest challenge. I did a lot of work with making myself more grounded (i.e.: having a slightly wider stance, balancing myself more evenly on my feet, and moving like a guy.

I spent several weeks prior to rehearsals observing the physical movements of many of the guys I know, and taking note of how these movements were different from my own. Men and women move in different ways based on some basic, biological factors such as center of gravity, a difference in hip and shoulder widths, and of course…

But what really struck me as I observed the movements of men, were the many subtle differences in posture, gesture and facial reactions. Have you ever noticed how men fold their arms? Have you ever noticed how women do? I knew that, while I may not be able to change my stride, gait, or center of gravity to that of a man, I could make some changes to the more subtle movements that I had observed.

Next came the voice. With the past voice work I had done with Heather Folkvord, I was feeling good about where to start. I worked on focusing the energy of my voice to the lower registers and resonators. This is more than just talking in a lower voice. I had to allow my breathing and vocal chords to support my voice from deep within. It was wonderful to be able to explore the use of these full and robust sounds.

As for stage presence, that was a bit more difficult. I tried several different tactics for these opening moments, but none of them seemed to be working. The intentions I was trying to convey (i.e.: hope, civil peace, and a focused mission), were not ones that were reading well or fitting in with the tone of the rest of the play. It was when Scott Lange, our director, came to me and said, ‘You are commanding. Try demanding instead.’ that things really began to click for me.

With presence and voice all coming together, the moment finally came through with the strength, support and vigor that it so desperately needed.

So, shaken as we are,…

This week, Kathleen Bode discusses playing Ariel in The Tempest.

For me, this week has been full of two thing; pushing my boundaries as an actor, and ibuprofen.

Ariel, much like Prospero, tells stories. The story of how the ship sank, the story of how he/she lead this group of people around the island, etc. But the way that Ariel tells stories needed to be very different from the way that Prospero tells them.

So I started with the fact that Ariel is a non-human character. So, how do you convey that to an audience? I needed to make it clear, visually, to the audience that Ariel is “other wordly”. There has to be a real distinction between how Ariel moves compared to how the human characters move.  Movement is not my forte, so I met with Katherine Mayberry (our producer) for some help with this. With her extensive dance training, Katherine would be able to help me better use my body to develop and present my character.

We started with some image work. I did some online research of animals, and brought a dozen or so pictures of different images that I found. Each of these images struck me, for different reasons, as ways that I could see Ariel. What surprised me most was that they were not all animals that fly. I started my research with birds, but only about half of the images I chose ended up being avian.

Once I had my images, Katherine had me replicate with my body each of the pictures I had chosen. From there, I began to use that image to produce a movement. How would an Arctic Skua move around the room? How about a Black Skimmer?

No one wants to feel like an idiot, and I was afraid of looking like one while doing these movement exercises, but I realized that if I didn’t make these choices big, bold – and confidently – then they would never read to an audience. They would look foolish because the audience would know that I felt foolish. But, using these images to create distinct and precise movements helped me to really embrace the sense of freedom that I found allowing myself to move in ways that are wholly unfamiliar to me. I found myself enjoying that freedom to move any (and every) part of my body.

Getting out of bed the next morning was a bit more challenging than usual for me. Having never been an athlete or dancer, my body was not used to those kinds of movement, and I had to pack a bottle of Ibuprofen along with my lunch that day!