Well, here we are in week four of the process of putting together The Lion in Winter. I don’t know why, but even after acting professionally for more than 10 years, I always feel like I am reinventing the wheel whenever I construct a character. The obstacle of the week: no empty space.
One of the magical things about theatre is the capacity to engage in an imaginary world. In the rehearsal process, much energy is expended imagining and creating in our minds the playing space. Rehearsals typically take place in a space separate from and usually not resembling the actual performance space. So it is with us upon arriving at 325 Tudor Court. Coming to terms with the actual props is confusing, reconfiguring our kinesthetic relationships is confounding and seeing just how close the audience is going to be is downright terrifying. Fortunately the work we have done so far as an ensemble is strong, so it is no small comfort to look in the eyes of my partner onstage and know that the other person is my anchor.
Something that I have been thinking alot about with this play is the extent to which expression can be achieved through stillness. I performed in Blue Man Group many years ago as a Blue Man and one of the directors was always urging the Blue Men to simply have the experience of the show and let the audience watch us go through it. Only then can we allow the audience to participate viscerally and imaginatively in the story of the show. Coming back to The Lion in Winter, I feel that the combination of this show, our particular director’s aesthetic and the limitations/blessings of our space require a stillness and focus that I have never experienced before.
I am sitting here on a break in our technical rehearsal anxiously anticipating the family style chinese food that one of the actors ordered for the cast. I will try and stretch before getting into a beautiful costume that is almost a quarter of my body weight. I will then warm up my voice and try and clear my head with a cup of coffee, a breath of fresh air and most likely an inspiring note from our director, Rick Snyder. And so I am living the dream….