January 9, 2006.
Since January 2nd we’ve been putting the shows up on their feet- blocking, choreographing movement sequences and running scenes in sequence. It’s been an exhausting week and on top of that there were stage managers and props masters to hire, costumes to approve, programs to write, posters to design and no rest for the weary.
Last night I finally tackled my two toughest scenes in Hamlet and the dread I’ve been carrying around with me has lifted. The first was the “nunnery” scene between Hamlet and Ophelia. We had spent some coaching time with the director on it but last night was the first time we tried it with blocking. We worked on it for an hour before rehearsal started and it was problematic. I was worried but determined, during our run of Act I, to get better with it the second time around. My first scenes went well, which established some confidence, and then something clicked with that scene. Every time I’d done it before I’d felt awkward and frustrated. I couldn’t get into it or even come close to feeling what my character was going through. But during the run I connected with my scene partner and it went leaps and bounds ahead of where it had been earlier in the night. Now that I know where to go, I can commit even further; my body will remember what to do so that I can be consistent. The director told me in notes that he loved it and just wants to “turn the volume up” on what’s already there.
After that I was surprised to learn that we were going to stage the madness scene. I was glad to have it sprung on me so I didn’t have time to get anxious or self-conscious. I again made an effort to fully commit and the director gave me some very nice blocking that helped tremendously. He told me afterwards that it was already at a place where he could “feel” things from it and that I had nothing to worry about. It feels incredible to have gotten past these hurdles- scenes I’ve been worrying about for months.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the act of commitment. I’ve no trouble with it in real life but on stage it’s my nemesis. What’s helped me most, strangely, is a book by Deepak Chopra called Peace is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End. It’s not even about the artistic process but he writes about the fact that all of us have access to everything we need. I’ve often thought of talent as something that was bestowed on certain people but not on me. I haven’t felt that I deserve to act or even have the right to. However, Chopra writes each person can bring about the kind of life they wish to live; in fact, no one but that person can do so. For some reason the light has turned on for me. I realize that whatever I want to do is possible and that I have already have everything I need to do it. Now, instead of feeling that I don’t deserve to play these roles, I’m going to take great joy in the fact that I already am.