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PERFORMING THE ROLE OF MAGGIE IN THE PLAY BY HAROLD BRIGHOUSE By EMILY GREEN A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PRESENT ED TO THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2014
Copyright 2014 Emily Green All rights reserved.
4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would first like to thank Dr. Charlie Mitchell, without whose excellent direction, patience, and advice I could never have created this performance. I would like to thank Kathy Sarra for her support and guidance in helping me find greater ease in my work and in myself. I would also like to thank Kevin Marshall for introducing me to the Michael Chekhov Technique, which I found crucial to my process. My absolute love and gratitude to my family and friends for their support and the cast and crew of for their hard work, affections, and talents. Finally, I would like to thank Tiza Garland and Dr. Ralf Remshardt for their invaluable guidance and mentorship throughout my time at the University of Florida.
5 T ABLE OF CONTENTS Page AKNOWLEDGEMENTS............................................................................. ....................... ........ 4 ABSTRACT.................................................... ............................................................................. 6 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................. ........7 TEXTUAL ANALY 8 ........................... .................... .. 8 The Play wright ......... ............ 11 Style and Themes ........................................................... 13 ..... ... 15 17 Characterization: Preparation .......................................................................................... 17 Characterization : Practice ......................... 19 Vocal Life ................................................. 2 4 Physical Life ..................... ............................ 28 THE PRODUCTION ................................................................... 32 Final Rehearsals 32 Performances 33 Personal Evaluation 35 ......... 36 APPENDI CES A PRODUCTION 38 B PRODUCTION 50 REFERENCE LIST 54 BIOGRAPHICAL SKE 56
6 Abstract of Project in Lieu of Thesis Presented to the College of Fine Arts of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts PERFORMING THE ROLE OF MAGGIE IN THE PLAY BY HAROLD BRIGHOUSE By Emily Green May 2014 Chair: Kevin Marshall Major: Theatre by Harold Brighouse, under the direction of Dr. Charlie Mitchell. The play had a select run from January 3 th rough February 7, 2014 for the students of HUM 2305 before opening t o the public on February 8 and closing on February 16, 2014 This paper begins with an analysis of the script and playwright before moving to an exploration of my research and process in creating the role. I examine the acting, vocal, and movement techniques I employed during the rehearsal process as well as the successes and challenges of putting those techniques to use in the rehearsals and productions. I concl ude with a self evaluation of my work on the project.
7 I NTRODUCTION When I first read during the season selection process I found the character of M aggie slightly flat and one dimensional The play had its charms, but the character c ame across in the text as consistently strident and unmovable in her pursuits. I was, however, attracted to her strength of will and commitment to her purpose. My opinion of the play improved after viewing the 1951 film adaptation which showed more fully the comedic potential of the script, as it seemed to be a script that played better than it read. I became intrigued by the challenge of finding the different levels inside the character of Maggie as well as embodying a character that drives the action thr oughout the play. I was also excited by the opportunity to play a character close to my own age, which I had not yet done in a mainstage production at the University of Florida. The chance to work under the di rection of Dr. Charlie Mitchell was also very a ppealing. I had worked with Dr. Mitchell once before and fully trusted in the quality of his direction and his ability to push me to excellence in my acting. After coming to these realizations, I pushed hard to obtain this role for my thesis project and, l uckily, was successful. A fter securing the role, I looked more deeply into the script in the hopes o f finding more layers to the character. I became attract e d to the relationship between Maggie and Will, the character who becomes her husband in the play. There seemed to be great potential to show softer underbelly through the development of th at relationship. I also found additional parallels between Magg ie and myself beyond age goals with a dry wit and a distaste for the exhibition of weakness. Maggie seemed to be right in my wheel house and a perfect fit for me, which was not the case with any of the characters I had already played in mainstage productions at the University of Florida I was excited for the opportunity to play this c haracter. T hough I found her to be quite challenging, in the end I found
8 her infinitely rewarding to cre ate. TEXTUAL ANALYSIS The Play takes place in Salford, England in 1880. The first act of the play is set impatiently waits for a suitor to arrive, her older sister, Maggie enters from upstairs. Alice inquires as to when their father will be leaving, as she is anxious for him to be out of the house, but Maggie informs her that Hobson, a heavy drinker, has barely gotten out of bed after a long night out. takes over the situation and cajolingly forces Albert to buy an expensive pa ir of boots before sending hi m on his way. As Alice begins berating Maggie for her harsh treatment of Albert, Hobson crosses through the shop on his way out. After his daughters remind him about dinner time and warn him oo long, Hobson launches into a long speech about receiving the proper respect and decorum from his daughters, ending in an admonition that he will choose husbands for Alice and Vickey. The two girls leave in an indignant huff. Maggie questions her father about finding a husband for her, but he only laughs at her in response. The scene is broken up by the arrival of Mrs. Hepworth, a wealthy customer, who demands to see the person who made her boots. The audience is then introduced to Willie uneducated, yet talented boot hand. Mr s. Hepworth leaves after giving Willie her calling card and praising his work, which earns some grumbling from Hobson after her his
9 daughters. After learning that dowries would be expected to marry off his daughter, Hobson master plan, calling Will up from the shop and working to convince him to marry her. He is reluctant, yet Maggie is persistent, even after learning that Will is already engaged to Ada Figgins. Ada shows up at the shop with dinner for Will, and Maggie informs Ada that her engagement to Will is now off. Ada objects, but she an d Will are powerless in the face of her sister s enter the shop. Vickey and Alice are aghast at the news that Maggie is planning to marry Will, and inform their father when he returns home. Maggie and Hobson face off, and she tells him her terms: either agree to the marriage and start paying Maggie a wage or she will leave the shop with Will to start a new business. Hobson refuses and calls Willie up, threatening to beat the love out with a belt. Will, emboldened by his anger at the threat of violence, tells Hobson that he will leave the shop with Maggie. Time jumps forward one month in the second act, which opens on state of somewhat d n o help in either Vickey or Tubby, the shop foreman. Maggie enters with Will and Freddy Beenstock, a young grocer who is also a suitor to Vickey. Freddy breaks the news to the girl s that Hobson has been found asleep in his cellar after drunkenly falling into it the previous night Maggie sends Freddy to get Albert and then starts arranging plans with the surprised Vickey and Alice. She pushes the girls into giving Will a kiss as their brother in law to be, buys a brass ring from the shop to use for her wedding that afternoon, and sends Will to fetch some old furniture in the house. Vickey and Alice resist, but Maggie assures them that she has a plan to get them both married to the men of their choice. When Freddy returns with Albert, Maggie sends Freddy
10 to help with the furniture w hile discussing with Albert the lawsuit for trespassing she had drawn serve the legal paper to her father and persuades Albert to carry the furniture back to new home in Oldfie ld Road while she heads off to the church with Will and her sisters. obviously prep ared and taught to him by Maggie, though the other four are impressed with his newfound education and abilities. As the guests prepare to leave, Maggie asks Will to clear the dishes. She then forces all the men to clean up after Albert laughs at Willie. As the women go into the bedroom to get their hats, Will asks the men for advice on how to deal with Maggie on his wedding night, being very uncomfortable and nervous at the thought of being with her alone. Freddy and Albert are not much help, however, and t he women soon return. The wedding party is surprised by the arrival of Hobson, who is awake and in distress after learning about the lawsuit against him. The sisters and theirs suitors hide as Will, encouraged by Maggie, puts on a as part of the family and also to get him to agree to settle the case out of court. Albert, with some input from Maggie, negotiates a settlement of 500 pounds with Hobson, who then bec omes dowries to marry their suitors. He leaves in a storm, soon followed by Alice, Albert, Vickey, and Freddy. Left alone, Maggie and Will awkwardly maneuver aro und each other before finally heading to the bedroom for their wedding night. are worried about Hobson, who woke up gravely ill. Hobson enters, complaining that he i s on the
11 verge of death and Tubby goes to fetch a doctor and, of course, Maggie. Doctor Macfarlane diagnoses Hobson with a severe case of alcoholism, and tells him that he must abstain from all alcohol and convince Maggie to come and live with him again to take care of him. The doctor apprises Maggie of the situation as she appears before taking his leave. Hobson bristles at her presence at first, but eventually relents and tells her that he wants her to stay. She reminds him that he has two other daughters as Alice and Vickey arrive in quick succession, though both girls seem unwilling to come. Maggie convinces her father to go put a collar on in preparation for gh life with Albert, and Vickey who is now pregnant, are both unwilling to come. Maggie goes to welcome Will, who is a newly educated and confident man, as he arrives. He aggressively negotiates with her sisters as Maggie goes to fetch her father. Vickey and Alice leave at their Maggie alone with Hobson. Will takes the lead in the negotiations, astonishing Hobson with his success and stature, proposing that Maggi e and he return to take over the shop, with Hobson as a but Will refuses to back down and Maggie relents to his authority. When Hobson leaves the room, it becomes his strong showing. The two share a sentimental moment, then leave with Hobson to draw up the paperwork for the partnership. The Playwright Harold Brighouse was an English playwrigh t who was best known for his regional plays set in Lancashire. Born in 1882 in Eccles, Lancashire Brighouse did not originally set out for a
12 location near a theatre that first exposed Brighouse to drama (Tyson 77). Brighouse beca me further involved with theater during his brief residence in London from 1902 to 1904, attending begin writing, feeling that he could do better (Tyson 77). He moved back to the Lancashire area after a failed business venture and became a fu ll time writer. His first full length play was rejected by Johnston Forbes Robertson, a theatre manager, who rec ommended Brighouse start with one act plays and write about the life he knew (Smigel 67). Brighouse took Forbes advice to heart, and became a prolific one act play writer specializing in plays set in Lancashire. Ironically, Brighouse is best re membered now for his highly successful full length play written in 1915 r ather than for his one act work r epertory theatre in England at the time of his writing and is considered to be a part of the Manchester School of regional theatr e artists. His career was heavily supported by productions of his work at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester, managed by Annie Horniman; along with writers Stanley Houghton and Allan Monk house, he became part of a group of local writers whose works for the Gaiety most often had a Lancashire setting (Hollingworth). dels aiming instead at (Brighouse 11). plays of this time focused on domestic or economic themes, using dialect, regional setting, and local topicality to appeal to the regional audienc es of the repertory theatres (Smigel 74). The true feather in the cap of which was first produced in New York in 1915 before showing in London in 1916; this play was vastly popular on both sides of s career as it would be the only popular
13 play for which he would be remembered. The im mense popularity of the play caused Brighouse has adaptations, a musical adaptati on, and even a ballet continues to be produced by theatres with regularity today. Style and Themes is a social comedy rooted in realism in which the humor grows out of the domestic conflict be tween characters. King Lear with the father demanding submission, rather than love, from his three daughters, who rebel against his authority (Gregor 247). Critics have noted that in this play, as with much of Bri expect in the The play works best when the comedy grows naturally out of the characters and situation using the realism of the play to appeal to the universal experience of domestic conflict The success of comes from its into a form that is neither a caricature nor condescendingly folksy uses the Lancashire setting as a lens through which to view the development of his characters; he relies on the actors to depict the truth of these characters without overemphasizing the idiosyncrasies of the Lancashire lifestyle. The title of the play contains one of the central thematic elements of the in the 17 th century from a horse carrier named Thomas Hobson, who gave his customers the door or none at all (Knowles 333). Throughout s: in the first act, she gives her
14 father Henry Hobson, the choice of agreeing to her marriage to Will or facing the loss of both Will and her fr om the shop; to her sisters and their suitors, she offers the choice of going along with her plans or losing the opportunity to get married at all; in the last act, it is Will who offers Hobson a choice similar to the one given in the first act agree to partners in the boot shop or lose Will and Ma ggie yet again. In the first ac t, by refusing the Henry choice is taken have positive results; the two young couples are successful in getting married and Hobson wins Maggie back by agreeing to the partnership with Will. Here, Brighouse seems to suggest that people are better served by taking what is offered rather than turning their backs on opportunities. Another central theme of the play is family. Br ighouse illustrates both the creation of daughters look to create a new family life by marrying their intended husbands; all three gh unconventional in her methods, upholds the most traditional view of the family unit with her continual push to get her father and unit becomes complete when W ill becomes strong enough to overrule her at the end of the play. Maggie also illustrates the duty that family members owe to one another. She break s this duty by nd of the play, as she is the only daughter willing to move back into the house with her father to take care of him. She also continually pulls her sisters back into their familial duties demanding they take pa rt in her wedding and respect Will as their n ew brother in law. Through her respect of the
15 s not complete until she has found the traditional Victorian valuation of family w ith the husband as the respected head of the household. Context Understanding the Victorian setting is central in giving context to the action of the play, as it both upholds and inverts traditional Victorian values. The social atmosphere of Victorian Eng land was fundamentally dr iven by the class system. S ociety was divided into three main class groups: the rich upper class, who carried wealth, land, and influence ; the growing middle class of businessmen and professionals ; and the lower working classes (Su pple 92). The Hobsons of are distinctly middle class, a fact that Henry Hobson is quite proud of in the play tyle and contacts which 94). Brighouse imbues all the middle class characters of the play with the se qualities to some degree. The play also reflects the nature of int eraction s between classes in the Victorian age. The class own place in the social class hierarchy (92). These attitudes are reflected in the play through the Mrs. Hepworth, an upper class character, as well as the overall approach to the depiction of class in the play. The play also demands an exploration of the role of women in Victorian society. During this time, English society was undergoing much social and institutional reform with a growing
16 emphasis on modernization after t he advances of the Industrial Revolution. A t the same time, valued proper decorum and traditional social conventions (Burrow 123). The role of women reflected thi s conflict, as they began to push for greater freedom and responsibility even as they were expected to maintain a traditional domestic role. The traditional Victorian female ideal was sac rifice, and quiet suffering while maintaining an expert touch on the maintenance of the home (Dyhouse 174). This ideal place in society. However, women were gaining gr eater freedoms in other areas. Feminism was on the rise in England during this time, and feminist groups League, formed throughout the second half of the twentieth century ; larger numbers of employment opportunities were becom ing available, mostly in the service sector through clerical or secretarial work, and a greater value was given to the education of girls (176). However, work remained the purview of working class or single women; the middle class woman was expected to fil l the role of dom estic angel, the silent partner to her husband. Victorian society butted up riding a bicycle, reading advanced literature, and otherwise eschewing c onventional femininity (188); this image was simultaneously mocked by the traditionalists and rejected by feminists. While the feminist movement was beginning to gain some traction during the late Victorian period, the average middle class woman remained s ubject to traditional values of the gently suffering goddess of the household.
17 THE PROCESS Characterization: Preparation To begin my work on the character of Maggie, I knew that I would need to research the Victorian era in order to get an accurate picture of the manner and decorum of a Victorian woman. In reading the script and other research of the Victorian era, it was cl ear that Maggie was not a typical Victorian woman, but I felt it would be important to know what the conventions of the time were so that I could make informed choices about when I broke those conventions. The wealth of etiquette books from the time offere d advice to the ideal woman, a picture of civility, grace, and politeness offered this advice to the Victorian lady : Let your carriage be at once dignified and graceful. There are but few figures tha t will bear quick motion; with almost every one its effect is that of a jerk, a most awkward movement. Let the feet, in walking or dancing, be turned out slightly; when you are seated, rest them both on the floor or a footstool. Carry your arms, in walki ng, easily; never crossing them stiffly or swinging them beside you. When seated, if you are not sewing or knitting, keep your hands perfectly quiet. This, whilst one of the most difficult accomplishments to attain, is the surest mark of a lady. Do not fid get, playing with your rings, brooch, or any little article that may be near you; let your hands rest in an easy, natural position, perfectly quiet. Never gesticulate when conversing; it looks theatrical, and is ill bred; so are all contortions of the fea tures, shrugging of shoulders, raising of the eyebrows, or hands. When you open a conversation, do so with a slight bow and smile, but be careful not to simper, and not to smile too often, if the conversation becomes serious. Never point. It is excessive ly ill bred. Avoid exclamations; they are in excessively bad taste, and are apt to be vulgar words. A lady may express as much polite surprise or concern by a few simple, earnest words, or in her manner, as she can by exclaiming "Good gracious!" "Mercy!" or "Dear me!" Remember that every part of your person and dress should be in perfect order before you leave the dressing room, and avoid all such tricks as smoothing your hair with your hand,
18 arranging your curls, pulling the waist of your dress down, or settling your collar or sleeves. Let the movements be easy and flexible, and accord with the style of the lady. Let your demeanor be always marked by modesty and simplicity; as soon as you become forward or affected, you have lost your greatest charm of manner. (Hartley 150 153) These points of advice painted a picture of the model deportment and decorum of the Victorian woman. However, the script often had Maggie breaking these guidelines in her brazen approach to pursuing her objectives in the play. Maggie is a character with, u ltimately, traditional Victorian desires of marriage and monetary security she is just unafraid of pursuing those desires in a highly untraditional manner. I looked to use the model etiquette of the time as the basis for my physical comportment, while also recognizing the potential for breaking the rules of etiquette as Maggie. The knowledge of the idealized decorum of the time allowed me to make informed ch oices about how and why I might break those rules in my performance. In the preparatory stages of characterization, I also did an initial script and character analysis. I broke the script down into units, large sections of action focused around a single o bjective smaller sections of action focused around a single tactic the means by which the character goes about achieving that goal. At this point, I did not articulate these objectives and ta ctics on paper. I have the tendency to feel the need to stick to choices once I have written them down, wanting to ensure that I have reached the most ideal choice before committing it to paper. My goal in this process was to maintain a sense of flexibilit y in my choices and allow myself the room to play and ex periment in rehearsals. I had an internal sense of the possibilities for obje ctives and tactics, but it was no t until later in the process that I began articulating them on paper. This was a mistake o n my part; it would have been more productive for me to come into rehearsal with clearly articulated
19 objectives and tactics and simply give myself permission to adjust and experiment with these choices. By keeping my options as ideas without a written arti culation I kept myself from finding the greatest amount of specificity in my early objective work. At the time, I was more focused on finding out who Maggie was to me. As part of my early characterization work, I also studied the script for character clu es. I wrote down everything that was said about Maggie, both by herself and by other characters, looking for a sense of who this person was. The script drew a picture of a woman who was very self sufficient, head strong, controlling, and talented in busine ss. Maggie is also genuine ly in love with Will, and wants others to respect Will as her husband and the head of their household. At heart, Maggie does hold traditional Victorian values and definitions of success, but unafraid of pursuing those things in un traditional ways. I also reviewed the script with an eye to ward journey. After sensing the potential pitfall of flatness in the portraying of Maggie, I wanted to av oid simply ordering people around through the entire play. I marked all the moments that I thought held the opportunity for Maggie exposing vulnerability or weakness in the play. M oving into rehearsals, it seemed that I perhaps focused too much on this asp ect, as Dr. Mitchell kept giving me notes to make Maggie more business like It would take me most of the process to find the key to making Maggie a three dimensional character: playing the obstacle. Characterization: Practice During the rehearsal and performance process I employed my own hybrid of acting techniques that I have learned across the course of my training to work on creating the character of Maggie I started with a foundation of Stanislavski and moved toward the approach outlined in A Pra ctical Handbook to the Actor coupled with elements of the Chekhov T echnique. I found
20 that this multi pronged approach allowed me to utilize the components of each technique that worked most effectively for me I t is useful for me to center on a select num ber of foci; this prevents me from casting my mental net too widely and failing to give full attention to each element of my technique. For Maggie, I utilized the Stanislavski objective the Practical Handbook ychological Gesture and Archetypal Gestures, and finally returning to a sense of the Stanislav s ki obstacle. My approach to action changed throughout the course of the process. In the first half of the rehearsal process I employed the Stanislavski objecti ve. He defines good objectives as tasks that are necessary, directed towards the other actors, creative and aesthetic, fascinating and ). I used a method of objective articu lation that I learned in my undergraduate work, which states the character ) to ( achievable, measurable goal Scene Five, for for many years, yet here it felt somewha t incomplete, not exciting my imagination or evoking strong personal response in me. I decided to switch my approach to ac tion, and began working Practical Handbook This essential think the author is saying the character f eels at any given moment in favor of what he is trying to E ssential action is discovered by asking a series of questions 1. What is the character literally doing? 2. What is the essential action of the actor in this scene? 3. Wha t is that action like to me? It's as if The essential action shares many of the same qualities of a good objective; according to the Handbook an action should be specific, fun to do,
21 and focused on the other person (Bruder 13). It serves a similar function, though it is articulated differently. I found that using the technique of essential action helped spur me toward a clearer, more energetically activated goal, though I did not alwa implementation. For example, in the scene I reference d earlier Act 1 Scene 5 Maggie is get a l oved one t getting Eric (an ex boyfriend) to admit that I was right in an argument but I never ended up using this personalization on stage I often found essential action F ocusing on playing the action itself and affecting the other character within the circumstances of the play was often enough like extraneous information that I could not actively access without sac rificing another area of focus that was more essential to me. I found greater utility in focusing on marrying the main t hrust of my essential actions with the psychophysical approach of the Chekhov Technique One central element of the Chekhov Technique that I used in my approach to character was the Psychological Gesture. This is a full bodied gesture that expresses the thoughts, feelings, and will of the character in a single movement ( Chekhov 60). I employed a version of the P sychological Gesture that I learned in the Chekhov Intensive that took place on campus over the winter break. This involved a set of three gestures: a gesture of loss, the central Psychological ture of victory. For Maggie, the gesture of loss was a crouched position with the hands held t ogether in front as if shackled. The success for Maggie defined as mar riage to a successful man that could effectively command the respect of others and lead the household as well as a stable, successful business. M y seed of the
22 need gesture was a estures of Push and G ather as I push ed obstacles out of my way and gathered what I needed to succeed. M y victory gesture was a spreading of the arms in a wide stance, as if joyfully looking at a ring on my finger. I perform ed this Psychological Gesture series three times before each entrance on stage. After exploration, I found that moving from the victory gesture through the seed of the need and ending in the defeat gesture was most effective in both plugging into the character as well as driving me toward action by fighting against the imag e of the defeat. the typical Stanislavski approach to tactics. Archetypal Gestures are universal physical actions th e ten identified by Chekhov are: Push, Pull, Smash, Lift Gather, Throw, Tear, Drag, Reach, and Penetrate I married each beat with an Archetypal Gesture as a means of physicalizing the action of my essential actions; this replaced the standard use of ing verbs as tactics for each beat in the Stanislavski approach. I find that the Archetypal Gestures lead me toward more specific, full bodied work in my pursuit of my essential actions. The main Archetypal Gestures I used for Maggie were Push, pushing ot her people in the direction I wanted them to go ; Gather, collecting what I needed to achieve success and bringing order to the situations and people around me ; and Penetrate using my sheer force of w ill in a laser like fashion to influence others to bend to my desires However, in my private scenes with Will, I utilized more frequent moments of Reach, as I tried to express and receive love, and Lift, as I worked to build him up. My father also brought out more frequent uses of Tear, as I tore up his object ions to my plans, and Smash, when I needed to forcefully show him who was boss. The use of the Archetypal Gestures helped me physically articulate my intentions and means to achieving my essential actions.
23 The final, crucial piece of the puzzle for me in c characterization was the playing the obstacle, what gets in the way of achieving the essential being more primarily focused on the discovery of essential action and Archetypal Gesture as well as my physical and vocal life. It took me a while to truly identify and internalize the obstacles, since Maggie gets, eventually, everything that she wants in the play; the character was one of the few I have ever played that achieves total victory by the end of the play. As such, I was not allowing the other characters to truly challenge my ability to achieve my essential action, leading to some flatness in m y acting I rec og n ized that there was some ingredient missing in my work, so I sought out advice from Dr. Mitchell who gave me a piece of guidance that became invaluable in taking my performance to the next level: a character is always asking himself, in my pursuit of essential action, instead of assuredly steamrolling through the other characters. I found tha t this addition of obstacle added an exciting layer of scrappiness to my work that brought me even further into the full bodied psychophysical approach of the elements of the Chekhov Technique. Even though Maggie does continue to achieve success in her act ions in the play, I discovered the journey of fightin g for each victory by playing the obstacle that I had to overcome to win those victories. I am truly indebted to Dr. Mitchell helping to bring me to this realization of obstacl e, which elevated the overall level of my entire performance.
24 Vocal Life My first step in working on the vocal life of Maggie came in working on the Lancashire, or British North Country, dialect, which was central to the creation of this character. I knew that nailing the dialect would be a vital part of creating the world of t he play in a believable way for Acting with an Accent: British North Country which came with written and audio material, both of which were infinitely oks and tapes to learn previous dialects, so I was already familiar with his system and felt confident in my ability to achieve success in this case. This was decidedly a more difficult accent for me to learn, in that I had no real foundation of knowledge material two week before rehearsal began. In the beginning, it was very much rote repetition of the sounds without a strong internal sense of the dialect; however, once I fo und some pop culture examples of the dialect, I had a much easier time. About a week in to my work, I realized that Ygritte, a character on Game of Thrones and Mel B, former member of the Spice Girls, both spoke with this dialect. At that point, my learni ng began to progress much more quickly, as if a switch flipped in my head that allowed me a greater sense of the life of the dialect which seemed to improve my ability to make accurate substitutions as well as internalize the dialect work The most impor tant aspect was capturing the appropriate placement of the vocal resonance. In this case, the British North Country dialect is laced at the front of the mouth, just course in rehearsal. This became quite popular among the cast members, and many of them also adopted this habit. Other significant aspects of the dialect were: elim inating diphthongs by
25 elongating only the first vowel sound in each diphthong, substituting the schwa in words like 11). I marked all the substitutions in each and every one of my lines in my script using IPA, the International Phonetic Alphabet, a series of symbols that represent vowel sounds. This helped me identify all instances of vowel and consonant substitutions in my lines and helped me transition from the coached In w orking on the dialect in the beginning of the rehearsal process, I found it useful to simply commit fully to the dialect and try to avoid second guessing or equivocating in my vocal choices. I did, however, find myself flattening my vocal range in my attem pts to stay accurate in the placement and substitutions. After getting a note about this from Dr. Charlie Mitchell I focused on widening my vocal range and avoid getting similarly caught up in the technical accuracy. I found it somewhat difficult to let g o of this focus in the beginning, as the production did not have a dialect coach who was consistently present at rehearsal. T his was somewhat disconcerting for me, as I could not both focus on the consistency of my dialect at the same time as my acting cho ices. I simply had to trust that Dr. Mitchell would inform me if my dialect was going off course. I later received feedback from Yanci Bukovec, our resident vocal expert, that my vocal use was still lacking the musicality necessary for the dialect, so I fu rther focused on widening my range of vocal choices. I watched several movies with the North Country dialect, such as United and the British miniseries North and South I found this helpful in bringing a stronger sense of the Lancashire life to the sound a nd freeing up my vocal choices. However, I developed a tendency to mechanically broaden my range without tying those choices to my
26 further into the rehearsal process and technical elements were added. I sought out advice from Dr. Mitchell who told me that I should focus on fully and clearly pursuing my objectives and tactics, ensuring that I was focused on the other person and not the sounds of the words. I found thi s direction invaluable in moving forward and bringing greater life and authenticity to my vocal work. In concert with the British North Country dialect, I also used element s of the Lessac vocal technique and Alexander T echnique in my vocal work in order to find the necessary richness of tone and strength of sound in order to fill the large space of the Constans Theatre. The Lessac technique stresses the value of adopting a forward facial posture, a focusing of the vocal resonance and facial muscles toward the front of the mouth, in creating tonal NRG. As 276). Finding and utilizing this tonal NRG was central to creating the energetic vocal life of Maggie as well as projecting my voice to the last row of the theatre. Luckily for me, the first major place of resonance for the tonal NRG is the hard palate jus t behind the gum ridge, which was the same placement for the resonance of the dialect. I worked on exploiting this overlap by using the necessary placement of the dialect to reinforce the natural tonal resonance of the hard palate. The Lessac work was als (Lessac 68). For example, in Act Two Scene Two, in my li I
27 and as a kind of vocal version of the archetypal gesture Drag. I found these kinds of opportunities through my vocal exploration throughout the rehearsal process; as I became more adept at focusing on using my vocal choices as direct expressions of my objectives, these opportunities became clearer to me. Throughout my vocal work, I also utilized the Alexander Technique in order to maintain ea se in my vocal use and keep my voice healthy. I have a tendency to hold extra tension in my throat and over effort my voice by pushing the sound from the back of the throat, creating vocal fatigue and lessening the resonant quality of my voice. In this pro cess, I wanted to focus on using the Alexander Technique to alleviate some of these problems by practicing inhibition, the When I felt extra tension around my v ocal cords or pushing from the back of the throat, I worked to employ inhibition to cease and release the tension and come back to the forward facial posture that encouraged the resonance focused on the gum ridge behind the teeth. I also focused to maintai ning a connection with my breath, the foundation of all vocal production. I found that by giving awareness to taking full and complete breaths, I was able give more support to my voice and maintain the appropriate resonance placement. I also learned to tru st my resonators to do their job in conducting the sound without extra effort on my part. The Alexander Technique unwanted responses, which leads to the discovery inhibit the extra tension as well as pushing from the back of the throat in order to discover the appropriate effort needed to work from the forward placement. As I improved in my ability to
28 use a higher quality of breath support and maintain awareness of my resonance placement, I was able to find a much greater sense of ease in my vocal life. Physical Life When I first began my work on this life, I failed to make the physical life of Maggie my first priority. I relied mostly on my sense of the standard decorum and carriage of the Victorian woman to inform my physical choices, working from a base of an erect posture and minimal gesturing as fit the conventions of the time. My physical life was greatly informed by the addition of a rehearsal corset and petticoat around the fourth week of rehearsal; these pieces greatly aided my sense of how the period garments restricted my range of movement. However, it was not until I added elements of the Chekhov Technique to the physical life of my character work that Maggie truly began to take shape. The use of an Imaginary Body and the physical manifestations of the Thinking, Feeling, and Willing forces brought greater specificity and an individual sense of being to my work. Ad ditionally, I made significant use of the Alexander Technique in maintaining ease in my physical life. Body As defined by Chekhov, t he Imaginary Body is an imagined body that is different from the My first incarnation of Imaginary Body was as an eagle, which, for me, conveyed her regality and domain over her territory. However, I was not fully satisfi ed with that image in working with the lower half of my earth. I wanted my Imaginary Body to be more fully grounded and rooted in the earth. I realized that the key elements of the eagle for me were the wings and the attitudes of the head as it turned its head, smoothly and penetratingly surveying the surroundings I married those two
29 elements with the Imaginary Body of a Victorian woman, as I found the ad dition of a sense of reality and time in which she lived helpful in fully internalizing my Imaginary Body for Maggie. I created an image of a strong, slim hipped femal e body with wings growing out of her back. This body had an erect posture, as if held up by a string passing through the spine and pulling up the back of the head as it passed through the top of the skull. In the first act, this Imaginary Body also wore an armored breastplate, which served the dual purpose of drawing the shoulders back and pro tecting the heart; this breastplate also returned in the fourth act during the conflict with her father and sisters, serving as an extra layer of strength and invincibility. At times this Imaginary Body would express itself in my own physical body movem ent in my arms, f or instance, where there was movement in my imagined wings; at other times the movement was wholly in the energy body of my Imaginary Body. Within this body, the position of my wings served as an imagined p hysical expression of my power. My wings could wrap around my body, making me impenetrable to outside resistance and shoring up my strength, as in Act One, Scene Five as I waited for Willie to come up out of the trap before asking him to marry me. They could also spread and flap as I gat hered power or worked to influence others to bend to my will, as in Act Two, Scene Three when I admonished Albert and Freddy for being too greedy in the negotiations with my father. They could also spread widely and I would soar in moments of total victory as in Act Two, Scene Eight when Will ie dictated to my father the terms of the partnership without any assistance from me. The outward expression of these attitudes, when it happened, was always smaller in my physical body then in my energy body, a graspi ng of the hands in front of my body when wrapping my wings, or a release of the hands when spreading them. The other key element in finding the specificity in the physical life of Maggie was my
30 exploration of the elements of Thought, Feeling, and Will as physical expressions of character. Chekhov believed that characters were always predominantly Thinking, Feeling, or Willing, and, further, that each predominant character approach could be married with a quality (160 161). He also associated each with an a rea of the body: Thinking with the head, Feeling with the chest and heart, and Willing with the legs and feet (52 53). In my character work, I found that Maggie operated primarily with an unrelenting Will force, which I then used to inform my physical choi ces, using both elements expressed by Chekhov in his book and techniques I learned from Lisa Dalton and Wil Kilroy This approach views the Will force as expressed not only in the legs and feet, but also in corresponding areas all over the body the thumb s, the heels of the hands, and the chin. I also explored areas of the play in which Maggie switches to a primary core of Thinking or Feeling, such as Act 2, Scene 4, in which she is alone with Will ie in their house on their wedding night, when Feeling beco mes the central element. Just as the Will force can be expressed in both the macrocosms (i.e. legs) and microcosms of the body (i.e. heel of the hand), so can the Thinking and Feeling forces, such as the tips of the fingers representing Thinking and the pa lms of the hands representing Feeling. Throughout the course of the play, I explored the use of these different forces through their corresponding physical locations in the body, which helped me marry the psychology of Maggie with her physical expression. I found this very helpful in working with the limited vocabulary of outward expression most often afforded to the Victorian woman. As Maggie is a primarily Willing character, I used a core attitude of clasping the hands in front of the groin with the fing bottom parts of the body. I also worked with leading with the heels of my hands in gesturing. However, when Maggie was in Feeling mode, I switched to holding my hands p alm to palm
31 the central parts of the body. Additionally, I used movements leading with the tips of my fingers and the top of my head when expressing new ideas o r formulating plans in order to reflect the Thinking force as emanating from the uppermost parts of the body. The physical expression of these forces served as a baseline for my movement and helped me in adding greater specificity to my work. Throughout my physical work, the use of Alexander Technique played a central role in maintaining an ease of movement and access to the use of my whole body. The core of my AT practice here was staying connected to Primary Control, which is the relationship between th e head, neck, and spine from which all movement originates. It was vital for me to maintain a strong sense of Primary Control and ease through the neck in order to allow for freedom of movement through my whole body. A key element was the sending of the ce ntral Alexander Technique directions: Allow the neck to be free to let the head go forward and up so that the back may lengthen and widen I would send myself these directions whenever I sensed tension or blocking in my neck in order to encoura ge release. This became especially i mportant when I was employing the eagle like head movements of my Imaginary Body, which often lead to a spinal twist as my head moved to face a different direction than my chest. I found that releasing up and out into Primary Control played a significant part in maintain the full flow of energy and power through that movement. unproductive physical habits. This played an important ro le in stopping the unnecessary holding of tension in my thighs and knees, which was brin g ing me overly forward and off center. I also used inhibition to interfere with a pattern of tension in my lower back, which I noticed with the
32 addition of the corset a nd petticoat to my daily wear, as well as a pattern of rounding forward in the shoulders, which is a personal habit of mine. In addressing all of these habits, it was with myself, performing a conscious internal check of my physical use, inhibiting any holding, and then sending myself the main Alexander directions. By maintaining a consistent awareness, I was able to find a desirable ease of movement and fully embody th e physical life through my Imaginary Body. PRODUCTION AND PERFORMANCE Final Rehearsals The addition of the technical elements as we moved into dress rehearsals was very stressful for me. Ideally, an actor will feel a sense of last piece of the puzzle com ing into place as she puts on her costume and starts using the actual performance props. I, however, initially had the opposite reaction. During our first dress rehearsal, I felt quite out of sorts, as if I were somehow in conflict with everything that I w as touching and that was touching me. I felt that it was important that Maggie be in complete control of her domain, but I was having a lot of difficulty handling the props in the deft m anner that I wanted to. We did not r eceive the majority of our actual props until the tech rehearsals started, and they were often quite different from what we had been using as rehearsal props. Where I wanted to be smoothly moving through my use of the objects and space around me, I found myself struggling to maintain ease. completely at home in my costume, as if it were something that was simply laying on top of me, rather than a part of my sense of self. The quick changes also seemed much more difficult than I expected, which I allowed to cause me furthe r consternation. These struggles were also manifestations of the stress and doubt I was feeling about my own work in the week leading up
33 to this first dress rehearsal. I had been putting immense amounts of pressure on myself to be excellent and carry the s how and impress people with my work; I become too caught up in I left our first dress rehearsal feeling very defeated and doubtf ul about the quality of my work. After this rehearsal, I knew that I needed to find a way through this self doubt back to a feeling of freedom and ease. I had a meeting with Dr. Mitchell who did a lot to quell my fears by talking me through taking the st ress off of myself and bringing my attention back to the fundamentals playing the obstacle and taking my time living in each moment I also worked to utilize my practice of the Alexander Technique to come back home to myself and find a greater feeling of ease. By releasing some of the mental tension, I was able to come to the second dress rehearsal from a place of strength instead of fear. I was also buoyed by some alterations in my costumes; my corset and skirts were taken in, which greatly improved my f eeling of the fit of the costume. For the first time, I felt like Maggie in those clothes, which was a joy and a relief would have that feeling of completeness well made before; they were beautiful, right from the start. I just needed to be ready to fill those shoes, and on that day, I was. There were still the typical bumps in the road in the last few rehearsa ls made friends with but the road toward our opening felt much smoother starting with the second dress rehearsal. It was not a very technically demanding show, so my prim ary focus could be on my work and marrying that with the final technical elements. Performances
34 had a unique performance run W e opened for a select group of University of Florida freshman enrolled the first nine performances before opening to the public for our final eight performances. I anticipated a distinct difference between the two audiences due to the variance demographic s and, for t he most part, I was correct. f reshme n was a bit nerve would buy in to the humor of the show. Al though it took time for each stud ent audience to warm up to the show and exhibit a high level of vocal response, ultimately they seemed to quite enjoy it. Their in particular were very rewarding. Before this show, I had never experienced an audi ence breaking into cheers when I kissed someone onstage, but every night without fail, the wedding night scene drew whoops and hollers from the audience, which I found very satisfying. However, during previews I started to become a bit too focused on the a udience response, resulting in my chasing the comedy rather than letting the comedy happen naturally. I started feeling like I needed to compete for attention with Sean Cancellieri, the actor playing Will, who was hilarious in the role and regularly drew m any laughs from the crowd. In A lexander Technique terms, I began endgaining, focusing on the end result rather than the process of getting there. I was over efforting in my pursuit of humor However, I was successful in recognizing where I was straying off course and, again, used a combination of refocusing my own thoughts as well as discussion with Dr. Mitchell to help get my performance back on track. Here I focused on playing the truth and coming to the play with a fresh set of eyes, truly using the obst acle to launch my pursuit of the essential action, and always assuming that the character is not doing well in that pursuit. I also came more in touch with Maggie and started engaging my lower body more as I utilized my Will force more strong ly. I felt as if I
35 had truly come home to Maggie by our sixth performance for the students. Our public audiences were, for the most part, quite a bit more vocally respons ive than our student audiences. This was particularly evident in our opening night au dience. The humor of this play is primarily intellectual or situational and naturally appeals to a slightly older audience, so our public audiences which consisted of a wider range of ages, had an easier time relating to fully on board with us. Yet after refocusing my energy, I was able to simply remain present on stage and worry less about what t he audience was thinking. I made it my nightly goal to maintain my focus on the present moment onstage without working any harder to engage the audience, ho wever, as Sean suffered some illness and injury during this period. At one point, he got pinkeye, which was problematic because we kiss several times throughout the show; there was a strong fear that I, as well as other members of the cast and crew, could catch it. We discussed possible alterations of the blocking with Dr. Mitchell but I decided that I was fine with taking the risk of touching and kissing Sean despite the pinkeye, because I felt that the show would lose something without the physical expre be a productive choice as I never caught pinkeye thanks to a con s i derable amount of hand washing and strategically placed hand sanitizer. Sean also injured his knee in our second to last performa nce during a particularly energetic wedding night scene; he had to muscle through the pain for the last two performances. All in all, our performance run was very successful and I had the most fun I have ever had onstage performing Maggie. I would have bee n happy to continue the run indefinitely, but as a whole, the show was ready to close by the time closing night came as our set, costumes, and even some of the actors were starting to show significant wear.
36 Personal Evaluation I am very proud of the wor k I did in Several people remarked to me that it was the best work that they had seen me do at the Universi ty of Florida, and I agree While my work throughout the process was not perfect I found a level of ease, moment to moment focus, a nd full bodied life that I had never before r eached. I was also reminded holding myself to a standard of ion was not useful as perfection is not possible. Throughout the process, I was able to utilize the training I received during my graduate studies to elevate the quality of my work. The extended run was an invaluable learning experience for me as I continued to grow in my performance even after the show had opened. There were some areas of my work that could have used further improvement I will need to continue to work on finding ease in my vocal use and broadening my vocal range in my future stage work My dialect could also have been more consistent and carried a stronger sense of the musical life of the dialect. My work also would have be nefitted from more specific ally and clearly articulated objectives and essential actions earlier on in the process. Additionally, the added pressure and stress I put on myself during the final stages of the rehearsal process was unproductive. However, in t his matter, I am proud of my ability to recognize when I was taking missteps and refocus my work in a more productive fashion. I am learning how to take a proactive role in examining my app roach to the work and utilize the director as a resource to identif y the means to improving my performance. In the end, I was able to thoroughly enjoy myself onstage and give an energetic and effective performance. CONCLUSION The process of creating the role of Maggie in was difficult, but ultimately very rewarding. The use of essential action, the Chekhov Technique and the
37 Alexande r Technique were crucial in my development of this character. This kind of hybrid approach was very productive for me, and one that I will continue to use in my future acting w ork. I greatly enjoyed working with my director and cast mates; the chemistry we created and the affection we all had for each other were present in the rehearsal room and onstage in every performance. I am proud of the growth of my own work as well as tha throughout the process and believe that the production as a whole was quite successful. I feel grateful for the lessons I have learned in creating and performing this role and am confident in my ability to transfer those skills into my acting career beyond the University of Florida.
38 APPENDIX A PRODUCTION PROGRAM
50 APPENDIX B PRODUCTION PHOTOS Act 1, Scene 1: Act 1, Scene 1: saleswoman, but Act 1, Scene 2: could see themselves as men see
51 Act 1, Scene 3: Act 1, Scene 6: looking to. Act 1, Scene 9:
52 Act 2, Scene 2: got their chance to make me bleed Act 2, Scene 3: Act 2, Scene 4: The Wedding Night
53 Act 2, Scene 8:
54 REFERENCE LIST Works Cited Brighouse, Harold. Preface. Three Lancashire Plays London: Samuel French, 1920. 7 21. Web. 22 Mar. 2014. Bruder, Melissa, et al. A Practical Handbook for the Actor New York: Vintage Books, 1986. Print. Th e Victorians Ed. Laurence Lerner. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1978. 120 138. Print. Chekhov, Michael. On the Technique of Acting Ed. Mel Gordon. New York: Harper, 1991. Print. sacrifice to self The Victorians Ed. Laurence Lerner. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1978. 174 192. Print. Gelb, Michael J. Body Learning. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1981. Print. The Hudson Review 17.2 (1964): 243 249. Web. 21 Mar. 2 014. Hartley, Florence. Boston: G.W. Cottrell, 1860. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Web. 22 Mar. 2014. Lessac, Arthur. The Use and Training of the Human Voice. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 1997. Print. Payne, B. Eden. Introduction. Garden City: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1918. v xi. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. British Playwrights, 1880 1956: A Research and Production Sourcebook Ed. William W. Demastes and Katherine E. Kelley. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996. 67 80. Print. Stern, David Alan. Acting w ith an Accent: British North Country Lyndonville: Dialect Accent Specialists, 1983. Print. The Victorians Ed. Laurence Lerner. New York: Holmes and Mei er, 1978. 90 117. Print.
55 The Tulane Drama Review 10.1 (1965): 148 157. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. Dictionary of Literary Biography Ed. Stanley Weintraub. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1982. 75 80. Print. Works Consulted Nicoll, Allardyce. English Drama 1900 1930 London: Cambridge University Press, 1973. Print. Reed, John R. Victorian Conventions Athens: Ohio University Press, 1975. Print.
56 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Emily Green earned her Bachelor o f Fine Arts degree in Acting from Millikin University in 2006. After graduating, she served one term of service in AmeriCorps as a member of City Year Columbia in South Carolina. She also worked for two years as an Applied Behavior Analysis Implementer at a private school for children with autism in Kansas City, MO before pursing her graduate degree. During her studies at the Un iversity of Florida, Emily has put her training into use in a variety of ways. Her credits at UF include productions of Brighton Beach Memoirs Two Rooms A Piece of My Heart Ajax in Iraq Measure for Measure and Roberto Zucco She was also involved with the student theatre group, Florida Players, appearing in productions of The Altruists and a s well as directing a production of 30 Neo Futurist Plays from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind At the time of this writing, Emily is in rehearsal for the Hippodrome The Tempest