Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
(Actor playing ‘Captain Loveit’)
The initial couple of weeks in the rehearsal process for Miss in Her Teens have been mainly geared towards trying to really get to grips with the text allowing us as a production to give the best performance we can of Garrick’s play. Along with textual analysis work, actors have been focusing on our bodies and voices, practicing and learning techniques to really allow us to feel at ease and relaxed with ourselves thus hopefully aiding our performance. In previous performances, as an actor I have struggled with nerves and as such become very rigid with my physicality and vocal performances. One of the techniques Lauren (The Director) has worked through with us is the Alexander Technique which aims to teach people how to stop using unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during their everyday activities. Personally I have found the technique very beneficial and have felt the effects in my performance in rehearsals. Through early character development work, I have started to get to grips with the character of ‘Bob’ Loveit. As a Captain in the military he would have a confident and calm exterior much of the time, obviously this is challenged within the play but as military personnel, an authoritative exterior would be paramount. And as such I have found the Alexander Technique to be incredibly useful in trying to achieve this on stage. Not only in my physicality but in my voice also, the Captain speaks very eloquently especially in the final scene of the play and as such I need my voice to be relaxed in order to deliver and articulate the lines to the audience. I know that the other actors in the cast have found the technique to be useful and I will be using it throughout the rehearsal and performance process.
(Actor playing ‘Tag’)
We have embarked on a journey into the world of 18th Century theatre, David Garrick and all things farcical. I am playing Tag in Garrick’s Miss in her Teens; the witty clever maid assisting Miss Biddy in her plot to be rid of unwanted lovers, and arrange the marriage between her and the man she loves. Rehearsals have begun by exploring vocal training in order to aid us in performing on such a large stage. Those who know me will probably feel like my vocal dynamics are quite loud enough thanks, given that you can usually hear my voice bouncing off ceilings for days after. However, according to professional actor training, it’s not acceptable to just go on stage, screech your lines and hope for the best. And I guess they’re probably right.
With this in mind, Lauren has been taking us through careful vocal warm ups and exercises to ensure that a) we still have voices left after 8 weeks of rehearsal and b) we learn how to articulate our lines properly. It has been tricky to get our mouths around some of the language in the play, not least negotiating which ‘f’s are actually an ‘s.’ The exercises have been focussed on the entire body, as all of the various tensions in our muscles have an effect on whether the voice is being strained and what kind of resonances it contains. We have explored the various parts of the mouth (who knew there were so many?) in order to see how they work and create different sounds. Our muscle flexibility has also been extended to yoga, with varying success, but we’ve all tried our best to contort ourselves into seemingly inhuman positions. As well as learning to create or lose certain tensions, we have also mastered what I believe to be the most difficult tongue twisters known to man! Hopefully, we will be able to put all this into practice and remember our lines. Given that our deep breathing practice has become so competitive we have almost caused ourselves suffocation, the audience should at the very least be able to hear us!
(Actor playing ‘Jasper/Fribble’
Normally when working in a group tension is something actively avoided, especially when working with people you have spent the best part of the three years with (those who know you well also know how best to get under your skin). However in the early stages of rehearsals for Miss in her Teens tension was a particular focus for us as actors. Borrowing from methods set out by Jaques Lecoq, and developing techniques used in a workshop led by Director Tom Wright, we set about plotting the different tension states each of our characters were experiencing in a given scene.
We were given nine states of tension which were as follows:
Using this scale we have been experimenting in the scenes, finding out which tension state works best at which moment for each individual character. So if when watching you sense an air of tension amongst the actors… Good!