Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Richard III & Rep Training.

A lecture on the opening of Richard III this afternoon followed by a practical study of the breathtakingly audacious Lady Anne scene. For the actors playing the seduction it's a case of deciding how and when Anne goes from furious defender of her father-in-law's body to agreeing to be Richard's wife.

My theory is that it's a political realisation rather than an emotional one and behind Richard's sugared words lies the latent threat that if Anne can't find a way to love him, he'll ensure the further destruction of her fortune.

Richard could of course just be brutish about this, but in the most Machiavellian way he finds it more becomes him to toy with her, bringing her gently to the realisation that her choices are limited.

The key moment of the scene comes after she has spat at him. At once an agressive and intimate act. He feigns tears at the act and uses a personal anecdote about his own father's death to 'seem to' excuse her transgressive act. The response is, without doubt, surprising and often in productions it's played as if Anne begins to fall in love with Richard's apparent vunerability. The section is much more grotesque and more in keeping with the pre-renaissance sense of power politics, if both of them understand that the tears and the story are a cruel parody, demonstrating Richard's resolve to have Anne. This isn't to suggest he has to 'act' badly, just that Anne is not genuinely moved by any other emotion than fear at what will happen if she doesn't consent.

She begins the scene attempting the illegal burial of a denounced leader and ends it with the possibility, she believes, of retaining some form of status and protection in the new regime. Love has little to do with it.

After the lecture some of the Applied Theatre Level 2 students, Patsy and I ran a very jolly trainign session for student Programme Reps from across the University. We use a pseudo-forum technique firstly performing a disasterous programme board, in which both the staff and student characters perform badly. The audience watch carefully and then break into small groups to offer advice to each of the characters, who respond in role. After discussion and a couple of mock arguments we perform the scene again, taking on board the audience's advice.

It's the second year most of the AT students have done this and  it was good to see them settling into the roles and finding new nuances and possibilities. They're also getting ever more confident at interacting generously in role with a strange audience. It's very good to see.

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