Rehearsal blog for Moby Dick: From the perspective of Actor and Simple8 member, Hannah Emanuel

simple8 Production Diary, Uncategorised

It’s a funny thing being an actor. You spend weeks, months, even years yearning for
the opportunity to be in a rehearsal room again, and when it finally comes, it is
nothing short of absolutely petrifying…at first.

It’s a sign that you care, to have nerves or fear at the beginning of a process – and it
certainly doesn’t leave you short of the energy required to tackle those first few days,
albeit the nervous energy of high dose adrenalin.

It’s a familiar discomfort; an odd term for a feeling telling me that, although this is
uncomfortable right now, it is also a natural, expected and familiar part of a process
which we can’t – and shouldn’t – skip over or rush through. It’s a vulnerable place to
sit, but it’s also a crucial one; trust the process and don’t look too far ahead.
We start by making connections with the team we will be working with over the next
few months. By necessity this happens incredibly fast in a rehearsal room, but this
shouldn’t mean that these connections are shallow or less meaningful than ones
developed over a longer period of time.

But it’s after the initial dust settles that the work can really begin. Within Simple8
rehearsals this is a layering up; a rough sketch to be filled in with colour at a later
date once we have delved deeper into the play; music, movement, physical
precision, character choices all to be added, step by step, beat by beat. For now,
let’s just work out what needs to happen where and when, as simply and cleanly as
we possibly can.

The actor process creeps in fairly quickly though, in spite of efforts to keep our focus
on the whole. Small moments where you feel a tingle at the back of your neck and
you know you have found something, however small, that might help you unlock the
character or the relationships that will ultimately drive your character’s actions.
For now it’s mostly questions without answers: How do I feel about the other
characters in the story? Where does my character come from/what is his family life?
What drives him? What does he most fear? How does he see the world? What
excites him? Who or what would he die for?

It’s helpful that on this occasion there is a book with some of those answers
conveniently supplied. But they can never replace the imagination of the actor, only
support it. There is the Starbuck in the book, to whom I must in some part be truthful,
but there is also my interpretation of Starbuck within which there is room for my own
imagination to take flight. In an ideal world the two will merge into one. But that’s me
getting ahead of myself again…

Sit in the vulnerability, trust the process, be ready to fail, then fail better.

The rest is for next week and beyond.