Kat Hermes answers our first set of acting questions.
1. How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?
I start with the basics; looking at the way the character uses text, at what the character says about themself and what the other characters say about them.
Then I start to physicalize what I now know about the character. What works best for me is playing with images, sometimes drawn from the real world and sometimes from pop culture. I usually end up with two or three distinct images and build the physical character using parts of each. For example, my most recent role with Pigeon Creek, Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost, was part Antonio Banderas, part Captain Jack Sparrow and part a guy I went to graduate school with. For Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the character I’m currently preparing, I’m looking at a lot of images of magical women in fantasy, such as Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings and Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
2. What do you find to be the most helpful part of PCSC’s standard rehearsal process?
Typically the first time we run through the entire show we do what’s called a “Ren Run” (short for Renaissance Run), where we put the show on its feet as though we were performing for an audience, regardless of how polished the staging is for each individual scene. This gives us a chance to get an early sense of the feel of the show as a whole, without stopping and starting, and allows us to test how well each of us really knows the story the we’re telling. I always make interesting discoveries during the “Ren Run”. While working Romeo and Juliet this spring, the “Ren Run” was the first time it really hit home how little time Romeo and I spent onstage together. Sean Kelley (who played Romeo) and I rarely even saw each other backstage, and I found that as the run went on I started to miss “checking in” with him. We only had two little moments together between scenes (after the balcony scene and before we enter together after our wedding night), so pretty much everything that we needed to communicate to each other, both as actors and characters, had to happen onstage. That sense of intimacy and urgency in the face of distance was part of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship that I had thought about how to convey, but when we put the show together I realized that Shakespeare had already done that work for me, that I didn’t have to “act” it, just let it happen.
3. What do you like to do for fun outside of theatre?
I read a lot. I watch a lot of Netflix. I sleep.
4. What is your day job? What do you want to be your day job?
I work full time as an assistant teacher at a daycare and accredited preschool, with ages ranging from infant to school-aged. Though I love teaching and working with kids and will probably always do so in some capacity, I’d like acting and costume design to be my day jobs, eventually.
5. What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?
In addition to my work with Pigeon Creek, I’m also a board member of Dog Story Theater in downtown Grand Rapids, so you’ll be able to find me there most weekends working the box office. I’m also thinking of venturing into non-Shakespearean theater with a close and talented friend of mine, but those plans are still too vague for a formal announcement.