When we were last in Paris (summer 2014) Bred in the Bone held discussions with Theatre De Menilmontant about running a festival at the theatre in early 2015. The idea was to not only showcase our work but also invite other theatre makers from the UK and beyond to share performances for three days in the French capital. Skip forward and it is 2015 and once again we are together as a company with the discussions previously held have now turned into reality. We are heading back to Paris with a variety of shows and fantastic directors to create a great weekend of theatre!
One of the pieces the company will be taking to be performed at the Festival is our very own Gabe Manthorp’s ‘Onwards, to Progress’, in which I will be playing the character of ‘Walker’, Alexis Ioannou the ‘Comrade’ and Kate Radford the ‘Jogger’. It has been slightly short of a year since we have worked with Gabe fantastic script and thus now is the time for the lines to be re-learnt, the structure to be reminded of and to re-establish the connections that are always there.
‘Onwards, to progress by Gabe Manthorp: A man and his comrade are walking by the sea, the man is lost and the silence and nothingness unleash an emotional outburst where life catches up with him all in one moment.’
What is nice this time round is the amount of time we have had to prepare the piece for the festival. Previously we had worked within a very short amount of time, with much of this time being spent learning the mammoth text. Now the text is learnt and the precision begins – what is nice about Gabe’s script is that it allows for much exploration and discovery; each line opens a new door in the high speed railway that is ‘Walker’s’ mind. Walker holds about eighty percent of the ‘Beckett like’ script; however, it is never all about him. Instead, it is about the relationships between the characters whom he shares the space with; fitting perfectly with the practice of our company. Time has now been spent on us three working once again in the space together, to re-establish our togetherness and to keep discovering new possibilities.
Outside of rehearsals with the ensemble there has been more work with myself and my approach to the script. We approach text in very different ways; this is to find the musicality of the text and also the power and strength of the words. Thus this has been the focus of my work, breaking the speech down and focusing on each and every word so they can fully resonate in me and with the audience. I find with actors we have a tendency to become lazy with text, throwing lines away or never truly speaking and exploring each word - it has been my aim to fight against this… for simply speaking the words is our portal to understanding the many dimensions of a character (in most circumstances). Thus, Amanda and I have been working to fully explore each word in the script, breaking it down to find the simplicity and power of the words and break any pre-conceived ideas about the rhythm or meaning behind the text. Essentially we go back to what Shakespeare wrote, to simply ‘Speak the speech’. By simply speaking the speech the emotions and journey of the character become more alive than they ever would if my starting point was the ‘psychological journey of the character’. In ‘Onwards, to Progress’ ’case the words themselves create the music, the emotion and the journey of the character for the actor and more importantly audience.
For now we continue Onwards until opening night. Back soon with another blog!