Entries tagged with “Rehearsals”.

Playing Rosencrantz

I’m Brooke Heintz, better known as (deep breath now) Rosencrantz, Francisco, Reynaldo, the Ambassador, Captain, and a pallbearer.  That’s right, it’s a regular revolving door of characters for me during any one of our runs.  Along with this, I’m our production’s Prop Mistress.   This means it was my duty to work with our director compiling a list of necessary props, determining what look we were going for, and then actually going out and finding them all.   Sharing production duties is one of the most unique things about working with Pigeon Creek, in my opinion, because we eliminate the line between actors and crew, and it allows the show to feel fully ours.  We take ownership of every aspect, or trust the people from our own ensemble to do so.

Speaking of unique opportunities for teamwork, I wanted to focus on the experience of playing half of the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern team.   I haven’t played a lot of male characters, and we also wanted to develop synchronization between R&G’s movements, so I was focused quite a bit on physicality when preparing my roles.  Sarah, who plays Guildenstern, worked very closely with me on developing where we wanted the characters’ center of gravity, how we wanted them to walk, to sit, to stand, to react physically in fear or indignation.   Near the beginning of rehearsals, we would use a mirroring exercise, where we simply stood face to face, and followed each other’s movements, trying to keep it as organic as possible, and get our bodies physically in tune.  We did a lot of work in front of mirrors as well, trying to get our stances to match while keeping it natural.

Once we were confident in the things that matched between the two, and felt that they translated visually as a set, we focused on what differentiated the characters.  Guildenstern is more of the alpha dog of the two, and we decided that they vary strongly in that Guildenstern tries to keep his reactions in the “head” most of the time, whereas Rosencrantz (not very “heady” whatsoever) reacts to most things directly from the heart.  It allowed for us to create tiny physical mannerisms that were opposing, but still complemented those that were synchronized: Rosencrantz was more likely to react to things openly, shoulders back, heart bared, whereas Guildenstern tends to shrink inwards.  When these reactions were combined, it still creates a visual illusion of them being two parts of a whole.

Playing someone’s “other half” so to speak has been a brand new experience for me, and required more specific physical work with another person than I’ve gotten to do before.   Hopefully it pays off in comedy for our audiences.   You still have a chance to come and see for yourselves, at Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, May 13-16th!

“To thine own self be true…” is one of my favorite lines in Shakespeare.  On the surface it is so simple, however when you dig deeper at the meaning of this simple phrase the complexities and levels begin to form. This is why I love to perform and study Shakespeare. His words may be constructed in way that is foreign to the modern ear, yet the meaning and emotion transcends time.

Hi, my name is Heather Folkvord and I am playing Gertrude in PCSC’s production of Hamlet! I have had such a great time during the rehearsal period and now performances of Hamlet.

My feelings of the character I play often change from rehearsal to performance. I think of my character as a “jacket” or “coat” that I put on and take off. In the beginning it is just a pencil sketch…very simple…a general shape (text analysis). Second I add color to the sketch and then choose fabric for my “coat”. This step often takes a little longer because type of fabric, color, weight, feel makes a huge difference to character (emotion, mood, first impressions). Third I “stitch” my character coat together weaving thoughts, emotion, voice intonation etc. During this time, my “coat” doesn’t always fit. It may be tight in some places or I don’t like where I place a pocket or seam and have to make adjustments. I borrow something from another coat I’ve worn. Next I add embellishments to my coat…a brooch or trim, maybe some special stitching (back story, core beliefs, main motivations). I try it on and it feels pretty good, fits fairly comfortably. Then I perform in this coat I have created in the last 5-6 weeks, and under the lights with the other characters and the eye of audience scrutiny it fairs well. But during a scene all of a sudden my coat sleeve feels tight or I can’t breathe with the buttons buttoned, so back to my sewing room for more adjustments and additions (or subtractions). This process continues through the entire performance period. So the coat I started with on opening night is not quite the same on closing night. I am always filled with a bittersweet feeling when I remove my character coat on closing night. But as I hang it in the closet with all of my other coats I know that someday I just might need that pretty Gertrude brooch to complete my next coat.

I hope you all will come and see Hamlet. It really is a wonderful play and for a tragedy it really is funny. It has transcended the ages and I find it hard not to think of all the generations of actors and audiences that have explored the world of Hamlet and all who have yet to start their journey. See you in Denmark!

Here is the first in our series of actor and director blogs regarding our production of Hamlet, which began rehearsals on February 15.  Check back each week for another actor’s perspective on the production!

This is Joel L. Schindlbeck.  I’ve got a couple different hats that I’m wearing for Hamlet, which is normal for my work with Pigeon Creek.  Currently, I’m playing Polonius/1st Clown, directing the music, sitting on costume crew, as well as my normal board work with the company (e.g.: PR/Marketing management, sitting on various committees and all those other beautiful and clandestine inner workings of the modern theatre organization.)

Thus far, in rehearsal, we haven’t spent too much time at all on character.  This first week has been mostly introduction to the different production aspects (i.e.: music, combat, text and housekeeping.)  We start all rehearsal periods with orientation to the company and the specific production, integrating the company of actors, which often includes a combination of veteran company members and actors who have not worked with us before.  Not only does it offer us the chance to spread our mission statement to other people, and therefore increase our presence; but it also gives us a chance to refortify our philosophies and beliefs in ourselves via constant training to others.

But, anyway, you want to know about the actor’s experience.  Fine.  I’ll take off all those other hats for a moment (which in all honesty, is difficult to do!).

I think it’s no mere coincidence that our director and artistic board has doubled Polonius and the 1st Clown.  (They’ve also gone and doubled Ophelia and the 2nd Clown.)  Pure genius, in my opinion.  In my research and analysis so far, Polonius acts as a bit of a minor foil to Hamlet, but also (more importantly) as a comic parallel.  Yes, yes, we all know about Shakespeare’s genius way of juxtaposing stark images of comedy and tragedy next to one another.   Both Polonius and Hamlet offer such stark and juxtaposed images, often inside of scenes or monologues themselves.    But, I’m digressing.  I want to focus on the parallels of Polonius and Hamlet.

Both characters are in similar pursuits of the truth.  Mind you, Hamlet actually knows the truth and is trying to get the world to admit it; whereas Polonius doesn’t know the truth, but is trying to seek it out tirelessly.  Whatever the foundation of their pursuit, both Polonius and Hamlet share the same strategy, which is best summarized by this speech of Polonius:

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out:
-Polonius, Hamlet, II, i

Both characters strongly feel that in order for truth to best be discovered, one must create an atmosphere of falsehood and white lies in order to bring honest confessions.  Both Polonius and Hamlet set up plays of different sorts (e.g.: Hamlet with The Mousetrap and his madness, Polonius with Ophelia and Gertrude) in order to get others to dictate and pronounce the truth.  So, why have two characters attempting the same arc?

As, I stated before, Polonius is a comic parallel to Hamlet.  They are both attempting the same means of discovering the truth, however Hamlet’s is mostly serious and delivered with speeches and soliloquoys of sincere self-judgment and pondering, whereas Polonius’ is seen as a buffoon and an old fool (in all senses of the word.)  Inside of these two characters, we can see the same story being followed along different paths, and in my opinion, the jocularity and drollness of Polonius’ path only strengthens the seriousness of Hamlet’s in the audience’s eyes.

What I guess the real question is, is since both characters meet their death somewhat via these “indirections”, is that the moral of the story?

Now, these are all preliminary thoughts, mind you; and judging by my own perusal of all I just wrote, it seems that Polonius was a bit of a typecast for me, but whatever.  I’m at the beginning of my discovery process with this play, and only time and rehearsal shall tell.  I’m going to start my process by focusing on this mirror between the two characters, and well…just see where it takes me.