There’s been a bit of a delay in getting this rehearsal blog out into t’interverse, as I’ve had to spend a few days in hospital; I was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and for lack of a better phrase I had ‘a bit of a funny turn’, resulting in a few unanticipated days of R&R curtesy of the NHS. Although I’d hoped to compartmentalise my life in that really healthy and efficient 21st century way and keep my health issues separate to my acting work, it seems I’ve been thwarted. For the time being, whilst the disease is active (and not in remission), Crohn’s has very much made itself at home in my day-to-day life, so I’m afraid you’ll be getting some bowel information for free with these rehearsal blogs from now on. Don’t say I don’t spoil you! That being said, I don’t want this blog to turn into an A-Z of diagnostics, so if you want any more information about Crohn’s apart from what leaks out in these posts, there’s a wonderful website full of helpful information at the bottom of this post (and of course if you see me, feel free to ask any questions). It’s going to be a learning curve for the both of us – this is my first acting job since being diagnosed and it’ll be trial by fire to see how I juggle both – and I’m not the most dexterous of people!
Now that I’ve got that semi-incontinent elephant out into the room, we can get down to the actual heart of the post… COFFEE! Oh… I mean, rehearsals. Since I last left you, I had been assigned the task of creating a series of lists about my character, Lisa:
- what she says about herself
- what she says about others
- what others say about her
- indisputable facts
Coffee and muffin ordered (purely for decorational purposes you understand), director Liz and I met one-on-one and settled down to start delving through my homework – I mean… um, yes homework! The first revealing thing that cropped up was the actual length of each of these lists – my character had a heck of a lot to say about other people (the longest out of these lists), but not an awful lot to say about herself; in fact, anything she does say about herself seems to be a statement or proclamation – “I am…” Clearly she not only has extensive and informed opinions on other people, but also has a clear idea of who/what she wants to be seen as by others. As we started picking away through these lists, we touched upon what our preliminary ideas of my character’s overall objective may be, her super-objective or life goal, if you will. Obviously this can and probably will change throughout the rehearsal period, but from the evidence gained from these lists, it seems that Lisa wants companionship (don’t we all?!). Not necessarily the romantic sort, but she wants a family unit, a sense of belonging – which is hugely important in terms of the setting of the play, this office environment. I was reminded of the BBC documentary ‘Penguin: Spy in the Huddle’ – that’s my initial impression of my character; she wants that sense of community, the rotation of all members to keep warm, the shared responsibility – so it’ll be a helpful exercise for me to go away and look at those sort of social pack animal groups (penguins, otters, meerkats) to see what inner or outer traits might translate to Lisa.
Obviously with any play, but particularly a two-hander, the crux has to be the relationship between the two characters – how they interact with each other, how their wants, goals and needs may overlap or obstruct the others’. With this in mind, we got talking about the office environment and dynamics between Simon and Lisa; the premise of the play could be pitched at a high intensity throughout (there’s some pretty high stakes if you read the synopsis) – but as an audience, you’d switched off, one level is boring! So we need to think about the power play between these two and exploring my findings with Liz was hilarious – high school really never leaves any of us! That’s kind of what the office is to Simon and Lisa; they’re both the bottom of the rung socially and certainly Lisa is fighting to be one of the ‘cool kids’. Lisa is very desperate to fit in; sponging and siphoning information from everyone around her – what’s cool, what’s hip, what will make her fit in? She’s very much a social chameleon, changing her colours until she can find acceptance; Sex and the City, chick flicks (The Proposal springs to mind here…), the Disney ideals of men… Poor lamb, we’ve all been there! Poor Lisa just seems to be stuck there!
As I’ve said before, I don’t want to take away the whole enigma of the play… This meeting has certainly given me a lot of food for thought (I’ll be sure to take my antacids don’t fret). I’ve definitely got a stronger sense of my character; the list of indisputable facts has highlighted nuggets of detail I’d glossed over, for instance stage directions regarding the contents of her handbag (note to self – must rent ‘The Secret’ from the Library…) and I’m able to go away with a sharper idea of what character research I need to complete to get a more rounded sense of who Lisa is – animal studies, what sort of job she has, an imagined set of previous circumstances and of course… watching a few Disney films and romcoms. It’s a hard life ain’t it?! But certain key questions are buzzing about my head in relation to my character… what happens when you constantly look ‘out’ for answers instead of ‘in’? How much of what my character says is actually true? You take it for granted that what your character says in the script is exactly right, but is she lying to others or even to herself? And crucially – what sort of legacy do we want to leave behind?
As i gather my cacophony of notes, I pass the baton on to Blake (Simon), tagging him in for his session with Liz. Which is just as well really, all this talk of Sex and the City has me gagging for a Cosmopolitan… Oh Waiter!
Until next time…!