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

simple8 Production Diary

This week has largely been a continuation of last week’s efforts, in so much as we
are still busy putting our energy into creating the whole. There is a huge amount yet
to do, but we have now made our way through the entire play, albeit with a fair few
cracks left to fill. At least we now know what beast it is that we are trying to tame.
As far as character work goes, my overriding sense right now is to avoid the
temptation to do too much work outside of the rehearsal room. We can only really
find the truth of a scene through connection with others so by definition this can only
happen when we are all together. How can I know how I’ll speak a line until I know
what it is in reaction to, or how I feel about the character speaking to me? Isolated
work tends to lead me into overthinking and makes me less ready or able to fully
listen to what is being said – and, more importantly, how it is being said. It is only by
achieving this openness and awareness that I can hope to be genuinely affected by
their words.

I might well spend time outside of the rehearsal room thinking about what my
character wants, yes, but I can’t pre-empt or discover alone what will get in the way
of them achieving those desires; that can only be discovered once the other actors
also bring the needs and desires of their characters into the situation as this is what
will ultimately shape how my character then behaves.

In terms of Simple8 and the style of the piece, I must remind myself to remain playful
at this stage, especially when looking at the big, physical sequences. I sometimes
become locked into an unhelpful seriousness when working to ‘get it right’. So
instead of asking what should we do, I can free myself from chasing this
mythological right answer with a slight shift to the alternative question, what could we
do? This allows us space to fully explore any different ideas that emerge in the room
and also helps the ensemble begin to take ownership of the show – an ethos at the
heart of all Simple8’s work and one which we are deeply passionate about and
committed to.
In terms of Starbuck, physical anchors are slowly beginning to help me find him.
Which part of his body is he led by? Where is his centre of gravity? He is a man of
authority; where is this held in his body? The hard graft of whaling will have taken its
toll on him physically; how and where is this manifested in his movement?

Another big consideration for me currently is when and how Starbuck expresses his
emotions. He cannot easily show his feelings, given the subservient nature of his
relationship to Ahab, so when do these emotions begin to push through the cracks –
and at what point is he no longer able to contain them?

How could I possibly answer this question alone at home, given it will, at least in
part, be created by the actions of other characters? There will be clues I can pick out
from the script for sure, but they won’t tell me the whole story.

With that in mind, it’s probably time to put down the pen again for now, make a cup
of tea and wait to explore this all further with my fellow castmates on Monday.