24
Aug
07

What, Exactly, Do You Mean?

You’ve read much about the often rehearsed but still in progress Boar’s Head scene wherein I first get to strut and fret, or in this case scuffle and roar, my brief hour as Pistol.  You know it’s a big scene, part of which is devoted to seeing the relationships of the people in this tavern and what happens when an uncertain quantity is introduced to this late night Bacchanal.  There’s furniture and tankards and food and knives and swords, all of which have to share the space with the many actors in the scene.  There’s a big chunk of the story that needs to get told in this scene so we continue to chip away at the words, looking for the meat at the heart of this nut.

 This is a tough scene for me and I can already tell it’s going to continue to evolve right up until the day we close.  To work properly Pistol needs to ebb and flow, give and take, flare up and subside all on the flip of a dime with very little warning.  This will help give the scene a sort of precarious, lurching, druken quality that will really set the mood of this tavern at four in the morning after too much Sack.  I rely on my fellow actors so much in this scene.  Lesley Handelman, who flawlessly plays Doll Tearsheet, is my nemesis for this scene and her constant barrage of insults ultimately sets off the Pistol powder keg.  Kevin Loomis expertly guides the helm as Falstaff and provides the focus for Pistol’s chivalrous devotion.  Marcy Kearns and I are fleshing out the relationship between Pistol and Hostess Quickly*.  Jake Russo returns as Bardolph and continues to amaze me with the quiet brilliance of his portrayal.  All of my bravado is fed by these and the many other talented actors in the scene who supply the shock, laughter, mockery, and terror that will help me to build and build my part of the scene, rather than just arriving already at the top of my lungs and maintaining one level throughout.

 One of the things I’ve been working on is specificity**.  Specificity happens when an actor knows exactly what prompts his character to deliver a line; what’s he looking at, what he means, what has driven him, to whom or what he is referring when he delivers a line.  Having this idea will give each line a specific target, thus making the delivery more real and tangible to the actor and therefore to the audience.  This can be a very simple choice or sometimes something so esoteric that only the actor knows the source of a particular thought.  It’s not always important that the audience knows, but the specificity must be there for the actor to realize each notion.  For a character like Pistol who likes to speak in  broad, ancient, and often inaccurate terms this can be hard.  So I have to decide things like which three drawers will become my Sisters Three, what the infernal deep looks and feels like, and how can I communicate the innuendo of the word Hiren.  I’m getting closer by degrees, but I’ve a long way to go.

Thanks for listening.

*SideBard:  An actor rarely wants to play the end of the scene or the end of the play and Marcy and I are trying to avoid this trap.  At the same time she and I have wondered what happens between the end of 2 Henry IV and the next play in the cycle, Henry V, that prompts Mistress Quickly and Pistol to get married.  Is there some spark evident in this play?  Maybe, or you may have to wait until next season to answer that question.

 **SideBard:  I first became aware of the term “specificity” as it applies to acting while fulfilling my acting internship at The Rep.  My friend and mentor Brent Hazelton, who heads The Rep’s Artistic Intern program, likes to wield the term specificity like a cudgel in his note sessions, but always with deadly accuracy.  Sup, Bhizzle? 

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1 Response to “What, Exactly, Do You Mean?”


  1. 1 brenthazelton
    August 24, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Sup, Hickster?


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