I need another weekend.
It’s been such a hectic weekend that it feels like it’s just been a really long week. A lot has happened.
On Friday, we had a FANTASTIC masterclass with Kelly Hunter. She came in at 2pm and we did a movement workshop based on what we’d seen in Metamorphosis. We approached creating characters in a Brechtian way, using a stylized movement to find the character and letting that inform the character’s emotion, working from the outside in. We played the game we played while rehearsing Cymbeline where we get into partners and position their bodies in a way to make them one of the characters. We then clap several times and each time they assume a new position, as if they are individual frames of a film reel. When we give a double clap, they perform the series of motions fluidly, as if it is a continuous action. We did a lot of exercises with creating the bug and the various family members from Metamorphosis. By the end we were all SO sweaty, and you could tell just how deeply some people really got into it! It was also great just to work with and catch up with Kelly again. After the two hour masterclass, we picked up with John’s class and ran through all our film scenes until six. It was the first day we had to be off-book, and my scene with Montana went pretty well. We got our shooting schedules, and originally I wasn’t called on the Sunday that we have shooting, but now I am because I carry on a basket in one scene. It kind of stinks that I’ll have to be there the whole day for just walking on with a basket, but that’s the nature of the beast and I might as well start getting used to it now.
Saturday it was up and at ‘em to go to Stratford. Whereas last semester we saw an evening show, this semester we saw a matinee. The only thing we really had time for before the 1:15 curtain (we arrived at about 11am after a two-hour bus ride) was going to see Shakespeare’s grave. Montana and I went because we had just missed it last time we were in Stratford; we arrived 5 minutes after it closed. It was cool to see this time around. I was surprised in general by how many people were in Stratford; it seemed like it was a lot more than last semester. But the grave wasn’t all too crowded by the time we got up close to it. Many members of Shakespeare’s family are buried there, and they also have him baptism and death registry there.
After that, it was time to hit the show. I was eager to see The Winter’s Tale since I had never seen it before and I do one of Hermione’s monologues from it, but that excitement was also tempered with a bit of wariness because the RSC’s work has been pretty hit or miss (mostly miss) in terms of what we’ve seen so far. I have to say, it was loads better than their Twelfth Night that we saw last time, but it was still a bit disappointing. I have to say that I think the RSC is like a machine that feels it has to have a certain unique take on Shakespeare’s material, but in my experience so far, that twist on it usually just makes the play not entirely make sense. In my opinion, the RSC has too big a budget and they put forth this manufactured product. There was no set, but rather projections onto a screen, which I honestly thought was just lazily done and not the best quality. Some performances were far better than others (loved Paulina), but some made me think, That is a very proficient “actor;” he is very good at imitating what crying looks like, but doesn’t give me the sense that he’s actually very emotionally connected at all. They set The Winter’s Tale around water, so the famous “exit pursued by a bear” stage direction was done as a projection of an enormous bear made of water jumping out of the sea and chasing a live actor offstage. What?
Anyway, as harsh as I’m sounding here, it was much better than what we saw last semester and I still did enjoy myself to a degree.
After the show a bunch of us joined up with many of the single semester students and went to a pub together to grab some food and drinks before the bus ride back to the Landward. Oh! And I also got this cool mug that is modeled after the Tube map. Each “line” on the Tube has a different name, like “Lovers,” “Mothers,” “Villians,” etc., and each “stop” on the Tube is a different character’s name who belongs on that line. It’s pretty cool.
This morning I got up and went for a run before our masterclass with Fiona Shaw! I was determined to get up and work with her this time around since I wasn’t able to last semester. She was about 20 minutes late because she had just flown in from Cork this morning and her flight was a bit delayed. She swung in in an outfit I would expect her to be wearing; kind of dirty, saggy pants with one of the buttons not done up, a chunky, multicolored scarf, and a shirt I can’t even remember but was undoubtedly well-worn. It is honestly exhilarating to just be in her presence. She began, like she did last semester, about talking about the different rhythms we use to speak and how that is influenced by our heritage, our cultures, and our families. She then launched into some personal stories, which she was shockingly frank about. I remember thinking as she was talking about her “first love” and how their relationship stands now, Wow, this woman must live such a huge and full life every single day to be able to talk about this really important thing in as flippant a way as she is. After we warmed up a bit, we got into a semicircle of chairs to start working on monologues or scenes. I deliberately sat in the front so I could jump up to work, and incidentally that meant I was sitting right next to her. I did get up first to work, and I did a Julia monologue from Two Gentlemen of Verona. Julia gets a love letter from Proteus, who she’s in love with too but has been trying to pretend she doesn’t. She rips it up and then gets very upset with herself for doing so:
O, hateful hands to tear such loving words!
Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey
And kill the bees that yield it with your stings!
I’ll kiss each several paper for amends.
Look, here is writ ‘kind Julia.’ Unkind Julia!
As in revenge of thy ingratitude,
I throw thy name against the bruising stones,
Trampling contemptuously on thy disdain.
And here is writ ‘love-wounded Proteus.’
Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed
Shall lodge thee till thy wound is thoroughly heal’d;
And this I search it with a sovereign kiss.
But twice or thrice was ‘Proteus’ written down.
Be calm, good wind, blow now a word away
Till I have found each letter in the letter,
Except mine own name: that some whirlwind bear
Unto a ragged fearful-hanging rock
And throw it thence into the raging sea!
Lo, here in one line is his name twice writ,
‘Poor forlorn Proteus, passionate Proteus,
To the sweet Julia:’ that I’ll tear away.
And yet, I will not, sith so prettily
He couples it to his complaining names.
Thus will I fold thee, one upon the other:
Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will.
Even though it’s a soliloquy to the audience, we put a “Proteus” onstage and a woman companion onstage that I could talk to. She had me run through it once, and then worked on it with me in terms of “turning the emotional voltage up on it” so that it would be closer to the truth of how high the stakes are. It was SO MUCH FUN. She had me running all over the place, telling me I had to either be under the bed with my girlfriend or on Proteus loving him. Needless to say, we all got quite close. But it was really, really funny and a ton of fun to work on. She told me afterwards it was fantastic and I basically felt like I could die happy. She also worked on monologues with two other students and it was so clear how she is able to draw out the best from people.
After that I went shopping with Montana a bit. We went to Monsoon on Oxford Street and unfortunately didn’t find much there that we liked, but we went to Topshop afterwards and I did get an electric blue sweater that I really love and will probably wear tomorrow!
Fingers crossed for the week to come. Audition slot sign-ups are tomorrow and I’ll probably be up working in Shakespeare. I’d love to go to bed right about…now.