Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Today, the real work on Tilly No-Body began, in that my director - Miles Anderson - and I sat down to watch a very rough recording of the basic script that I made a few weeks ago to send to David Roesner, the composer. As an actor, it's always very difficult watching work that hasn't been specifically made to be filmed. Also, at this stage, I've not worked on character and interpretation in detail: the recording was pretty much a moved reading. What became instantly apparent to us is to ensure that (a) the story is clear and (b) Tilly garners the audience's sympathy and empathy. Life in 1900's Germany was tough: there was a lead-up to World War 1; there was a certain disposability of life (Wedekind's Spring Awakening was written as a protest against teenage suicides); there was a certain 'dramatic' quality to life. While wanting to harness all those elements, it's important that we find the charm in Tilly, as well as the evident depression and despair that haunted many at that time. Even at this stage - before the real rehearsals start in September, and as I start now to learn the lines - it's important to consider Tilly's 'voice'. I have to focus on vocal warmth, and not be shrill. I have to find a physical liquidity that will be expressive and engaging, while also remaining (as an actor) grounded in a fairly (character-led) eccentricity and drama. As part of this, a certain kind of 'training' must begin. I need to ensure I do some vocal work every day, as well as physical work (I'm currently swimming and doing a particular favorite yoga routine), at the same time as hardening up my finger tips for playing the lute. In other words, it's time now to shift quite radically from researcher-writer mode, into actor-interpreter mode. Anderson will be a great - and very tough - director. He won't let me get away with anything. This is both terrifying and heartening. He is a director who understands acting processes - a rare and valued attribute - due largely to his own acting prowess. He's currently gaining glowing reviews for his wonderful performance of King George in Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III at San Diego Old Globe.