Becoming Caliban
Chronicles of a production of The Tempest
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Opening Day and Night

The first performance, at ten o'clock this morning, seemed marvelous. Lots of energy, but also a lot of precision, which is something we'd often lacked in rehearsal. The pacing felt just right, at least for the scenes I observed or was in. There was a real joy in performing this morning, the joy of doing something marvelously challenging, of pulling it off, of capturing an audience's attention and imagination, of feeling the language push you forward, of giving yourself over to the circumstances of each scene and discovering new possibilities within each moment.

I came home, took a shower to get the quarter-bottle of gel out of my hair and all the eyeliner and eyeshadow off my face, and then fell asleep in a 2-hour nap. I woke shortly before my mother arrived to come drive up to the theatre with me.

The second performance felt a bit more sluggish, probably because we were all a bit tired, but nonetheless seemed to go well. One of the younger kids, who hasn't done many shows before, went up on his lines in one scene, slapped himself on the head, and said, "Oh. Uh. Um. This island's like ... well, I don't remember what this island's like." He felt horrible about breaking character, but it was actually kind of cute and funny.

The audiences reactions were quite positive, but most of the audience members knew or were related to people in the show. My mother's usually a reliable critic, though, and her only major complaint was that my face wasn't dirty enough. She liked the physicality of Caliban -- half the time I feel like I'm in a modern dance -- and said she wished more actors had a stronger sense of their physical presence, which was an interesting comment. It's something that can get lost in a lot of American training; I know of plenty of acting teachers who think that everything must be internal, and so the concept of, for instance, starting with physicality and bringing a character forth from that is anathema to them. (In some ways, this is the stereotypical difference between American acting training and British. It's stereotypical because most programs and teachers fall somewhere in the middle, and anybody whose done much actual acting [as opposed to teaching] is likely to say, "If it works for you, do it," which should really be the only major rule.) Because I find the constant psychologizing of plays by traditional method actors to be both boring and annoying, I tend to like approaches that use more than just internal motivation, which may be why I enjoy finding interesting physical approaches to roles. Caliban, of course, particularly lends himself to such an approach.

Two more performances tomorrow. Then Saturday I can sleep in.......

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

the production
The Tempest
produced by Advice to the Players
at The Barnstormers Theatre
Tamworth, New Hampshire, USA

March 17 & 18, 2005
at 10am & 7pm

March 19
at 7pm

March 20
at 2pm

shakespeare links
Open Source Shakespeare
The Tempest Text
Elizabethan Pronunciation
Perseus Project
Early Modern Literary Studies
collection of Tempest links
Images of The Tempest
The Tempest in old postcards
Post-Colonial Tempest Links

2005-02-27 2005-03-06 2005-03-13 2005-03-20

Site Feed

about the writer
Matthew Cheney teaches English and theatre at The New Hampton School.

This weblog chronicles his experiences rehearsing and performing the role of Caliban in a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest.


Primary website: The Mumpsimus

Powered by Blogger