Saturday, 19 May 2012

Two Down

The first two rehearsals of The Lower Depths have come and gone. We have blocked the first act and about a third of us are off book. (That includes myself, shakily. Although I have very few lines in the first act, the time I should have spent learning them has been taken up with bookselling and the July Solo Festival.) It looks like a good start, with some life and movement and humour emerging. Like The Duchess of Malfi, another play which did little to inspire me on the page - perhaps because I was unfamiliar with it - it is fascinating to see flat words on the page transformed into flesh and action.

Once again there are distinct differences among the players. Three or four have leapt into their parts and when they move or speak immediately become the centre of attention. At the opposite spectrum, three or four mumble through their lines, their eyes glued to the script, their stance unmoving, and my eyes glaze over. Victor The Director seems unconcerned and I remind myself that this is early days and there is plenty of time for us all to get up to speed.

I am probably somewhere in the middle of the group, neither the best nor worst of actors. At some points I move as I think the character dictates and get Victor's praise. At places where I underact, he makes a suggestion which I adopt and gain his approval. Each time I am onstage I gain more confidence and improvise a little more. Towards the end of my short scene, when Vassily holds a knife to my throat, I find myself breathing rapidly and when he lets me go, I am trembling with fear and outrage - and find myself still shaking when I leave the stage. That, to me, is a distinct improvement and I end the day on a high.  

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