Monday 16 August 2010

Establishing relationships

It is just under three weeks before audition day. At the moment I am working on the relationships my two characters have with the other characters in their respective plays, so I can build an emotional framework.

Now, working out what the relationships are intellectually is reasonably easy. For example, there is a could-be lover, who is really a misogynistic and violent bully who makes my character's life miserable. While this man really pisses me off personally, the character isn't just pissed off with him. Her emotional relationship with this man is much more complicated than that. While she is dejected, humiliated, threatened, hurt, utterly confused and trapped, I just want to slap the guy and fight back. So, I have to figure out what kind of relationship I would have to be in with this man to feel the way she feels. I can relate to her situation enough to have a genuine emotional response to it but not enough for it to work on stage.

To me, her bully of a potential husband is more like an agent who holds my budding acting career in his hands and has the absolute power to put an end to it - utterly and completely because he is the king of all agents and no one would dare defy him. If I imagine myself in a room with this person, auditioning for him, I just have to make him say all the things to me that we actors dread to hear and more. Then I imagine him giving me one chance to change his mind by doing him, lets call it a favour, and I immediately feel trapped, scared, humiliated, confused and hurt. The more outrageous I make this scenario, the deeper my feelings get.

But why on earth am I putting all this effort into establishing relationships when I am performing a monologue only?

Well, first of all it's fun! Yeah, it's work but it's actor's work and that's what I want to do. Secondly, knowing the relationships will make access to my emotions easier and more effective. And lastly, when I perform a monologue, I don't want to perform it out of context. A monologue usually is part of a bigger picture. I am painting this picture by choosing colours and shapes, light and shadow, the composition. Some of this is in the text of the play and the monologue itself but most of it is up to me to imagine. Isn't that just wonderful?!

Even though it is new to me, I like working with the other characters in this way. Even though they only exist on paper and in my head, it makes them real. The outrageousness of this imagined bully lover/agent gets my imaginative juices flowing, my emotions going and makes my characters REAL. If there was another actor in the room, playing this character, my responses to him would be REAL. And isn't that what we want to see in a performance; real emotions, real people, living in world that is real to them? Because there won't be another actor in the room there is no one to listen to on stage but myself. However, the relationships of my characters with the other people in their world's are what inform their choices, their actions and reactions, and their intentions. Knowing these relationships on an emotional level will bring these two women alive and make them and their emotions real - without the need for another actor that I can react to.

Once I can truthfully live in these two women's worlds, all I have to do is listen to my own responses to what I am saying and doing on stage, and maybe I will be able to create a little bit of real magic.

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