Approaches to Character
Measure for Measure, aka the problem play, which to me was like red rag to a bull, if I was going to be challenged on this module I may as well make it as tough as possible.
Before we got into groups and chose texts we looked at ways of connecting with a characters emotions, one technique that I found very useful was to regress to a time I felt happy sad, pleasure or pain; to find those truths and transfer them in order to offer your audience something real. It opened new doors to connecting with a character and showed me a whole new level of commitment, as Sonia said, ‘if you want to know what its like to be cold, go home and have a cold shower’ she used many phrases along these lines including going to a supermarket and talking to the vegetables, see how the people react. Some people giggled at that, but the look in her eyes said that she was deadly serious, and if that is what you have to do to identify the truth in what you are ‘pretending’ to feel, then go and do it.
We started by reading the scene, act 3 scene 1, Claudio and Isabella; said with the upmost honesty I had absolutely no idea what the scene was about. I got the gist that somebody was going to die and wasn’t overly keen on the idea, but I had not even scratched the surface of the richness and depth of the text in front of me. Let alone who I was, what did I want, how was I going to get it and what would happen if I didn’t get it?’ . So we ran the scene, over and over, and eventually got it to the stage where we thought we had done well, that we had deciphered the text and characters where beginning g to surface; how wrong we were. After showing Sonia what we had come up with we realised that we’d actually been wondering into the wilderness in the wrong direction. But I didn’t find this disheartening in the slightest, it actually gave me a greater respect for the task ahead and put me in awe of what can only be described as the genius of William Shakespeare. Not only did I not get it, I was a long way away but the inspiring thing was that I was now on the right road and enjoying it.
We gradually edged our way through the scene under Sonia’s guidance, the text was becoming clear, and my objectives were crystal clear, now I had to find the man. I felt that he was in a foreign environment, this was not the life that he was used to, I was an alien, confused, scared but most of all desperate to live. We all want to survive it’s a natural instinct, but many men of this era were prepared to die, however Claudio was not, why? Because he was an atheist, in his mind when he swung and might we add unjustly he was going to be put in the ground to rot. The promis of the afterlife did not reside in Claudio’s heart, this life was the only one he was going to get and he was desperate to hold on to it. the one thing standing in his way was his own sister, who had quite opposing views on god. But it was clear that this man was willing to sacrifice his sister’s virginity, which to her was worth more than his life in order to save himself. I was able to learn more and more about Claudio from this, I could to begin to paint a picture of his life, I saw his childhood, more interested in adventures than bible readings, He loved his family and indeed his sister but gradually their difference in believes would flow like a river between them and soon the bridges would begin to crumble, he fell in love, then he and his wife in waiting would have had secret affairs until eventually his luck ran out and all of this was snatched away from him..
As I started to find the man I now had to connect with the world, I developed the cell where he was held, it was cold, wet and dark, when the door opened the bright lights from the Italian sky shone in and momentarily blinded him. The smell of excrement and insane chattering’s of inmates flooded the corridors, People in the adjacent cells were dragged away pleading for their lives, Claudio knew that soon this would be him.
Simply put my aim was to be somebody else, for a brief moment on stage to become another person, but not just pretend; to breathe, walk, blink as they would, right to the smallest detail, predictably I failed; we only got one shot at the scene, and looking back I know there was so much more I could have done. But I take that as a positive, if I didn’t think there was anything else I could do with my performance I should either be a star of stage and screen or heading into the arena of self-worshiping mediocrity. I feel the process was a success, the guidance from the lecturers on this module has catapulted me into a new realm of preparation, and I am excited to use these new skills in forth coming projects.