Gotta’ Walk the Walk

I’ve been away for a bit. I’m creating a character – using the same tools I talk about in this blog. Walkin’ the walk…

Macbeth is the character. The show is an original comedy written by Lloyd Schwartz called Classic Couples Counseling. Lady M and I are one of the five sets of characters from Shakespeare who are seeing a therapist to work out our various issues. It’s a smart, warped twist on the classic characters. Lloyd has added a funny, modern sensibility while staying true to the original source material.

Putting this character together is very much like the work we do for immersive environments. Here’s the process I used to get ready for rehearsals. It’s exactly what I advise you to do in this blog.

Given circumstances. The show pulls from Shakespeare’s play. Once I got our script I read it front to back a couple of times. Just to get a feeling for the tone and energy in the writing. Then, came notes on any reference to time, place, weather and people in the scenes – all the facts written in the script. Then, more notes on all dialogue describing my character – said by myself or by others.

Getting to know the original IP. For this show to work, the characters must stay true to the original intellectual property (Shakespeare’s play). I re-read the original play a couple of times. And watched a few different films based on the play. This helps me build a sense of the things that make Macbeth tick and have his history fresh in my mind.

Scene objectives. Next, the script got broken down into bite-sized pieces. I looked at what was physically happening in each bit and decided if it fit into Macbeth’s plans or was an obstacle to be overcome. In the scenes, as my obstacles change, I now change how I behave to try to get what I want. This is where connecting with the other actors and interacting out of their ‘offers’ comes into play.

Super objective. This is knowing what was most important to Macbeth – what he expects to gain from everything he does and what he ultimately hopes to finally achieve. This tells me what I expect when I enter each scene. Also, it gives me guideposts to tell me if I’m getting what I want or not.

This is where the deepest feelings come in – knowing if I’m getting my life’s dream or if I am being frustrated is very emotional. The cool part is – my feelings are tied into what is going on around me – not to a general idea that describes my character. This frees Macbeth to change any way I need to move closer to my goals. So, I have available a million subtle ways to behave and play with the characters around me.

AS – IF. This is the connection between my own (Joe’s) emotional life and the character’s. As I work, I pretend AS-IF I am in a similar situation from my own life. I experiment with my own reactions to the circumstances of the scenes. This part changes a lot as I work with my scene partners and the director. I have to stay open to their work and play each moment as it happens.

Work with authenticity, moment to moment. We are in rehearsal now. The director and other characters all have an affect on what Macbeth does next. As we work, I have to stay connected and aware – to make the right adjustments as things change. Still, all the adjustments are informed by Macbeth’s history, desires and the roadblocks placed in his way.

At the most basic level, I’m ready to react, as Macbeth would, to everything going on around me.

This is the foundation to create a character that is connected and genuine.

Next Up: Body Language Cues

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