They Come Not Single Spies, But In Battalions

With days to go before our Two Gents becomes reality, Lizzie sees the company through the final push into performance

There’s A Lot Of It About…

This week’s been all shoulders to wheels, noses to grindstones and hearts in mouths. The work has, to quote several of the company, ‘got serious’ with a week to go. So, a lot of lines are being run, a lot of verses are being nursed, lot of anxiety and excitement is being felt, and a lot of that seasonal spanner-in-the-works is about: lurgy. Lurgy attacks caused a few reschedulings this week, and now I’ve got it. This lead to two V-N sessions (at home, luckily) with me in pyjamas and slippers. Ah well, not the first time, probably not the last.

A Lot of Discoveries

Verse-nursing this week has been popular. Mostly drilling lines and cues, reminding about technicalities like punctuation and phrasing that have dropped away during the grind of just learning the words, and a lot of “oh, that‘s interesting, let’s play more with that”. You have to know your text close to you as breathing, yes you really do, but then you have to remember what you’re supposed to do with it. That’s been the fun part, shaping discoveries into performances. Some discoveries were expected, as they’d suggested themselves when I worked over the script, but many more not so. And time and again, we have players concerned at their insecurities over scenes where their characters are insecure, confused or in the dark. The unfailing guidance of Master Will at work again…

A Truckload of Metaphors

One aspect of acting the language that comes back up at this stage is remembering to take simple and complex language as stage directions. Simple is anything simply said or expressed, like “Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day,” and the basic acting theory is you deliver that directly to someone else on stage. Complex is when imagery turns up, in metaphors, similes and personification, like saying “jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops”, rather than “the sun is up”.

The working theory for complex expressions is that they go out to the audience, or take the speaker for a walk around the stage as they use the metaphor to work through their thoughts or feelings. As we do in everyday life. Or to express ideas that ordinary language just doesn’t cover adequately, for example about emotional experience or physical pain. You don’t? What did you say last time you had a lurgy? Yesterday, I came out with “I feel like a puppet whose strings have been cut.” Hello Mr Simile, nice to have your help!

I love getting to paint pictures with the language, and feeling the power of the words ignite in the belly of speaker and listener alike. Well, it’s what acting Shakespeare is all about, when it comes down to it, isn’t it? Allowing the language to vibrate your soul, creating a moving dragon-flame of emotion which those same words enable you to harness and channel into living, breathing emotionally-fatted actions and moments. Those moments burn through the player, into the scene, wrap around the story and set the audience on fire. At least, that’s the aim.

And Really A Lot of Verse-Nursing

Verse-nursing has been a feeding frenzy this week, with Dewi and me doing whole days, with multiple players coming and going. It’s been non-stop in both living room and conservatory of our west London flat. We have to be very careful nothing vital gets “overheard”… And there are days more to come still. It’s only just tailing off now with Friday the last day, as you have to allow time for stuff to sink in. And December 13 is almost here.

For me, I just want to do this now. The show, the story, the characters, it’s all been living in my head since July. I cannot wait for it to finally happen on the stage.

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