Thursday, February 13, 2014
While shopping in a local book shop earlier this week, I came across a small volume of Shakespeare, printed in 1901, that contains Titus Andronicus, Pericles and Much Ado About Nothing. How could I pass this up? In complete honesty, I only saw Titus and Much Ado printed on the spine. My wife, with her superior eyesight pointed out the inclusion of Pericles, which only added to my curiosity.
Why include these plays together? There is no underlying theme announced in a forward or editor’s notes. In fact, the blurbs introducing each play seem to be taken from different sources. All in all, this combination of works leads me examine the breadth and variation of Shakespeare’s works. I can think of no other juxtaposition that would better illustrate all the worlds that occupied Shakespeare’s head and his stage.
At the same time, I was reading The Quality of Mercy by Peter Brook who ponders in several short essays different aspects of Shakespeare’s works and his own (Brook’s) productions. There was absolutely nothing scholarly about this collection of thoughts, but its power to inspire different ways of approaching Shakespeare is unmistakable.
My thoughts continually go our unrehearsed practice, and what it adds to the thoughts of this master theatre-maker and how it can illuminate such diverse worlds as Titus’ bloody, ritual Rome and the soft, warm air that permeate Benedick and Beatrice’s romance. That is what our work does: it adds and illuminates. It should never detract or distract. Of course that is the aim of any method or system of acting: to disappear. One of the worst things an actor can do is get caught acting.
These experiences are only connected by time, really. A germ of something has been planted, but what the flower will be, I do not know. Something awakened by this 1901 collection, stimulated by Peter Brook’s words, fed by our technique and seasoned by the music of Morphine is dividing and growing somewhere in the ether around me.
I write this to dispel any thoughts or criticism that what we do is driven by the technique. Although we do seek to use it and teach it and spread it, we do so because it serves the craft. It is not the only ingredient we use, but it is the main spice that informs the flavor of what we do.
Let us know who and what inspires you.