Measure for Measure is still running, but we’re already hard at work on Troilus and Cressida! Here, Killian Goodson answers our second round of acting questions.
1) When creating a Shakespeare character, do you start from the “outside” (voice and physicality) or the “inside” (relationships and motivations)? Why?
I think it is important, when creating a foundation for a character, to understand their arc throughout the play. To me, this is grounded in the motivations of the character. Getting inside the life and thought process of the character while understanding their values and priorities lends itself well to the voice and physicality of the character later because it becomes the natural response to the various internal and external stimuli. For example, Troilus carries the values Ilion, which is as much to say that honor and pride are important and formulate Troilus’ life as a warrior prince. Yet, his warrior tendencies escalate late in the play. To begin, he is so caught up with his feelings toward Cressida, that although the war and his family’s honor is something to take note of for Troilus, it isn’t until he loses that veil that he becomes as reckless, and bloodthirsty as he does. I enjoy going through this change with Troilus.
2) Is there anything about Shakespeare’s language you find especially helpful in preparing for a role? Anything that is always challenging?
Troilus get’s to speak in verse often in this play. The rhythm is so intuitive and has the ability to guide the actor to find meaning that may otherwise be glanced over. As I have learned from our directors and other members of the company, verse can often mean the character actually knows what they are saying, and they are trying to use wit and rhetoric to outlast the conversation and persuade others to play into their plans. Verse is easier to learn because the lines have to follow in a specific way or it quite obviously doesn’t sound right. On the flip-side, the few times Troilus speaks prose with Cressida, the lines seem to come in a more, one might say, random, way. There is still a through line and the various cues in the scene guide what will come next, but the middle lines can sometimes become problematic, at least for me.
3) How do you prepare differently for an ensemble directed production versus a production with a director?
I love having a director. My preparation for one type over the other doesn’t really change; I still like to begin with finding the characters motivations. With directors, however, I feel like they are the authority on how they want the play to play out and can offer loads more specificity than the tedious nature of ensemble directing. It is common that opinions get lost for the sake of tact, and it can lead to weaker choices and, in turn, a weaker story.
4) What is your favorite “Original Practice” (audience contact, cross-gendered casting, live music and sound, etc.) and what exactly do you love about it?
Fighting only feet from the illuminated audience, rallying them on your side during a scene, and knowing that you have them on the literal edge of their seat is what is most rewarding to me about original practices. Looking people in the eye, teasing and admiring the audience—I find this adds another dimension to the performance that you don’t otherwise get with proscenium or modern practices.
5) What is your dream Shakespearean role?
Whenever I am asked this I am slightly overcome with shame that I am not more familiar with Shakespeare’s characters. I will refrain from picking any characters from plays I have done. I think my usual go to dream character is Caliban. I find him so intriguing and know that language to him is important. I like how he develops and is challenged. I also have to say that I love any character that has to be drunk on stage.