17
Sep
08

a winning way with words.

So having a run of this length allows me to keep discovering things after opening. Not that I could suddenly decide that Katherine is a mute, or a prude, or a nun, but I have been discovering further shades of my character. 

One thing I learned in graduate school (you hope to learn at least one thing [I, in fact learned many]) was to trust whatever reaction I had during a performance and to use it. Don’t ignore the fact that your scene partner is really pissing you off, because you may just find that it has more to do with character to character interaction than actor to actor interaction. Besides if it is useful, and you block it, you could be blocking off a whole set of instinctual responses, which causes your performance to be, well, boring. Again, this doesn’t mean that if your scene partner happens to step on your foot that you can just belt him in the mouth, but it does mean that every response you have may have validity in the piece. It must be through the filter of character and given circumstances and all that, but by this point that stuff is fairly automatic. 

Anyway, last weekend I noticed that as Katherine, I was really irritated with Berowne. I mean, I just wasn’t impressed by anything he was saying. I thought about this off stage and started to realize that this makes a lot of sense. Now this doesn’t mean that I have some sort of vendetta against Berowne, or that I intend to punch him in the jaw, but it goes along quite well with my cynical response to their first offer of love and to my career, etc.

As you may remember, Katherine is an author. She is amazing with words. So amazing, in fact, that she stumps two people in the play with her word-play. First she gets Rosaline (Rosaline’s response to her is “What is your meaning, mouse, of this dark word?” and “We’ll need more light to find your meaning out.” Then, in the masque scene, she completely baffles Longaville (and, as I hear from Julia and Jarrod, she baffles Maria and Dumaine as well.)

So I believe that part of the reason she dislikes Berowne is that he fancies himself a word-smith and she finds most of his banter lacking in some way. Not to mention his speech in which he declares he will only use simple means of wooing (no flowery words or courtly antics) in a sonnet. A sonnet, I tell you! I believe, as Katherine, that I could beat him at word-play very quickly, but he’s not really worth my time. As Maria and Boyet say of him, “Not a word from him but a jest” “And every just but a word.”

By the end of the play they are all shaken, and this is no longer a factor in the scene for me, but before that moment it is. It clarifies my relationship to a person that I have obviously met before (in the text it says he was at the party where I met Dumaine). I played with that today and found it to be successful. Now, no one probably notices unless they are very specifically watching me, but anything that makes your performance more specific is a good thing. 

Perhaps by the end of the run it will be a vendetta. One can only hope.

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