Thursday, January 16, 2014

Suit the Action...

When I auditioned for my very first Unrehearsed show back in 2005, I was asked to cold read a monologue from Taming of the Shrew.  I stood there and delivered the lines beautifully and pronounced every word correctly.  Then the director told me to do it again, but this time "suit the action to the word and the word to the action."  I took a moment to look over the lines and then proceeded to do so.  This time during the monologue, I had gotten down on my hands and knees several times, galloped, fallen over, and re-enacted the story I was telling with such vigor that I was exhausted and sweaty by the end of it.  Then it dawned on me that is exactly what this particular character would have done and exactly what they would have felt by doing the same.  This character had just had an incredibly long and stressful journey, had witnessed the most amazing events, and was now telling the tale to their fellow house servant.

Here is the monologue (from the First Folio):

  Gru. Tell thou the tale: but hadst thou not crost me,
thou shouldst haue heard how her horse fel and she vn-
der her horse: thou shouldst haue heard in how miery a
place, how she was bemoil'd, how hee left her with the
horse vpon her, how he beat me because her horse stum-
bled, how she waded through the durt to plucke him off
me: how he swore, how she prai'd, that neuer prai'd be-
fore: how I cried, how the horses ranne away, how her
bridle was burst: how I lost my crupper, with manie
things of worthy memorie, which now shall die in obli-
uion, and thou returne vnexperienc'd to thy graue.

I was cast in the play a short time later (in two tracks: Bianca for some performances and Grumio for the rest), and couldn't wait to begin the process of learning how to use the text to tell the story, which is what the Unrehearsed Technique is all about.

Can you imagine the difference if someone came up to you and told you Grumio's story just standing there or if they acted the entire tale out?  The same words would be spoken, but would the same result be felt?  Would it change the delivery of Curtis' next line?

(also from the First Folio):

  Cur. By this reckning he is more shrew than she.

I remember one fellow actor's advice to another actor who was playing Curtis in this scene: "Just get on stage and hold on!"

-Elizabeth Ruelas

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