Discoveries of Playing in Original Practices
SO FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW...
Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but I have felt that way now and then since beginning rehearsals for my first show with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company. I knew, of course, that this is an original practices ensemble and that we would be presenting the majority of our performances of She Stoops to Conquer on the thrust stage of Dog Story Theater, but I had not thought ahead of time how those realities would affect me as an actor. How one stands and moves relative to both the audience and one's fellow actors is very different on a thrust stage, and with many shows on proscenium stage "under my belt", I reflexively moved as one should on that stage, which, or course, is usually wrong on a thrust. But, with the patient help of my fellow actors I am gradually getting the hang of it, which is a delight on at least two levels. Firstly, I am adding to my tools as an actor, and then there is the pure pleasure of learning something new...not to mention the relief of not messing up!
Besides learning to move differently on stage, the biggest adjustment is the absence of the fourth wall. This is a big adjustment for me, as I have always used the fourth wall to control my performance anxiety: if I cannot see the audience, they are not there, and I am just my character. Why should I be anxious if I am no longer me? I suppose I won't know how that will ultimately effect me until we have an audience. But I already realize that as an actor I am getting something in return- the ability to play off the audience. Thank goodness I have some improv training in my toolkit!
As I write this, we are just two weeks into the rehearsal process. I am not rushing it- goodness knows we have a lot to accomplish in the next few weeks- but I am looking forward to seeing how these factors play out in my first experience as a Pigeon Creek actor. Verbose Wifey