by Padraic Lillis · September 5, 2014
Ashland is in rehearsal and digging deep. They are drawing out details of the story and each of their character's experience specifically leading up to the event of the play. Each night after rehearsal I get a text or an enthusiastic call to talk about the discovery or question of the day. Mostly, it is about the ownership the students are claiming on their roles.
I appreciate hearing about the discoveries of the needs of the characters and what interests them. It is also a pleasure to hear their questions. I like hearing that the actor playing Connor, for example, is mining the clues in the text for the need of why he is at the gathering. Not settling for the simple - to mourn, or be with friends, or get laid. All of which he is doing. But the actor is looking for the strongest need. Hearing from Scott that there is a recognition from that at this point of the development it is not brought out as clearly as some characters - and because of who this character is, and how he behaves in the world, it may or may not be brought out more. However, the need is there. And the clues are there...and they are working at and enjoying bringing these characters to the world. I am hearing that about each of the actors about their character.
Tonight there was a photo shoot for the poster of the play. The school photographer had the set up in the studio theater. Scott played some Justin Timberlake - and he said he saw the actors commit to their characters. He spoke of two things that were really exciting. One is that each of them had a unique appreciation for their character and that they were behaving like an ensemble. I look forward to sharing with you the photos from the shoot.
|Trevor photo shoot option|
The ensemble is using social media to develop and research their characters, as well as bond as an ensemble. They formed a private Facebook page for the production. At least one of them is tweeting in character: BexFarrell08 if you want to follow. They have created a spottily play list where they are each contributing songs that feel like the play. They are posting videos. They are posting job searches for possible jobs the characters might have. They posted clothing options for advice regarding what to wear for the photo shoot as well choices they are making regarding the hair they think is most appropriate for the character.
I'm posting these photos with permission from Scott. In these photos there are examples of what the character might wear, as well as how the hair is different from their own. I love their enthusiasm and commitment to the pursuit of these characters.
The external pursuit is something tangible to grasp. To bring themselves into the world. The external is the most immediate way to connect with a character. A little dye, the right shirt or tie - all of it starts to separate the actor from the character. It also connects them to it. To get to experience the world differently. Or they get see what it is like for the world to experience them differently. That is really valuable when wanting to understand and empathize with the character. My impulse is to say it separates the actor from the character - however, I want to acknowledge it also connects them because it gives the actor permission to do something they may have wanted to do for a while. Dye one's hair, or wear a certain style. Those choices that are in line with how they perceive the character is a step toward connecting personally to the work.
I can share photos of the external work. And I look forward to seeing all of that. However, I also know that they are each delving into and connecting with the inner need of their character. Scott shared with me the multi-level conversation that the two actors had when discussing the discovery of when one friend discovers the other is sleeping with the Prom Queen. The multiple options - but also the detail of work: were there clues on Facebook prior to learning this? Why does this person's name come up? What does this discovery mean to how the entire night is going to go? The examination was from all aspects of the moment. Hearing about the exploration that is happening for each of them is fantastic because it is clear that they are taking nothing for granted. There is a true respect and appreciation for bringing these characters to life.
On the Facebook page they are sharing their thoughts on hair, jobs, apartments, and all things about their characters. They are also planning social gatherings as a cast, and it is where the stage manager shared that her mom would pick up a specific prop on her way up to visit. They are quite an ensemble. It is exciting to watch them begin this journey together.
Talk with you soon.