Rehearsals for Titus Andronicus are going really, really well. I think. It’s hard to tell, honestly. I have been living with this show for nearly a year and a half now, so, as Jake pointed out to me a few days ago “You know, we really haven’t been rehearsing THAT LONG”. It feels like forever, in the best way possible.
Last night we worked out the rape scene, and it was…something. Our absolutely brililant fight master, Denise, was really great and really made sure that everyone understood what was going on and was the most awesome about answering questions and hearing ideas.
It is very interesting being “victimized” by good friends. While in my head, I know that it’s all prentend and at the end of the night I’m going to go have a drink with my “rapists”, there is still something deeply unsettling about being thrown and grabbed and made powerless, especially because there are moments where I really CAN’T fight back, even if I wanted to, and that is such a powerful experience to have happen during this moment of absolute frustration for my character. I’m a strong person– and so much of the fight is being choreographed to make me seem as weak as possible, because having the audience thinking “wow, Lavinia could kick thier asses” isn’t condusive to the scene much, so it’s been awesome having people I can trust being the ones tossing me about.
We also worked “Titus feeding Lavinia” last night, and that was…awful. We’re using oatmeal (because it’s delicious and I don’t understand anyone who say it isn’t), and holy gods did it make a huge mess. I’m a very persnickity eater, and having Aaron physically hold me down and spoon food into my mouth was so humiliating and demoralizing, in a weird way, it was really wonderful to get to experience that, especially because we are using that scene as the basis for how Lavinia survives for so long, and the truth is horrible to witness. Aaron, across the board, has been absolutely incredible to work with. I don’t know many other actors who would think to text me after rehearsal to make sure I was okay, especially, because really, last night I wasn’t.
This show is a weird beast. On one hand, it’s this absolutely fabulous role with all sort of dramatic interest and human emotion, but it’s also so dark and painful and just agonizing– once I’m in a show, I have a hard time separating my character and my personal life, and I think this is a role I need to be able to leave at the door and walk away from, just for the purposes of my own sanity. I’m always a bit shaken up after rehearsal, especially on the “rape scene” nights, because there is just so much to handle, the level of loss and pain and sorrow, but I also don’t want to be the bitchy actress complaining about it the whole time.
We’ve been working blocking for the most part and haven’t really delved too deeply (at least on my stuff) on acting, which I think is okay. It’s much more difficult to act when you’re worried about remembering where to stand, but I think my biggest concern is for the rape scene and the scenes immediately following.
The show is set up terribly– well, at least for poor Titus. My character gets raped, comes back mutilated beyond recognition, is found by her uncle (aunt in our production) and taken to her father. MEANWHILE, while all of this awful stuff is happening to me, Titus witnesses his two sons being accused of murder, his eldest son is banished from Rome and then I show up, so he has to deal with me, and then wait, there’s more! I can’t imagine the acting challenge that Aaron has to deal with.
We’re working that scene on Thursday, so my personal goal is to try and really access the emotion inherent in the scene. We’re re-blocking it (self-admittedly, I have become distracting in my hand-less gorey glory), so more of the focus can be on the action in the scene. However, I begged Jake to keep the part where Titus comes and comforts me– that is such a powerful, special moment. It is not often that anyone treats me like a child, and Aaron, just as a person, is so big and powerful and mighty, but in that moment, he’s so gentle and just so broken at the sight of his daughter, it’s really moving.
I’m also, god damn it, going to fucking cry. I don’t know what it is about crying on stage. I can weep and weep and weep at home on my own, but the minute I step into the space, it’s like my tear ducts shrivel up and die. I’ve been doing some work on how to approach it, and I think, basically, I am just going to sit there until I cry. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I think it’s more mental than physical at this point. I’m an ugly crier, too, so poor, poor Lavinia just won’t have anything going for her.
I am already projecting major post-show depression. This is one character that I care so much and so deeply about, I think it’s going to be really strange walking away from Lavinia and living my normal everyday life (without having to search for horrible, awful things on the internet nightly), but I kind of think it’s cathartic to be able to just hit those absolute low points and be there for awhile, and then shake it off and have friends give you hugs and go for french fries.
Because you can’t eat french fries with bloody stumps.