Kane in rehearsals as Antonio for Grassroots ShakespeareLondon's production of The Tempest
When I think of the word 'devising', I always think back to my days in GCSE Drama where I used to spend countless hours with my classmates trying to make 'edgy' theatre. What this meant is that we struggled through apathy and passive aggression to make plays set on plastic chairs, talking about issues like drugs and domestic violence (issues we knew little about) accompanied by deep and hard hitting music like Massive Attack's Teardrop or Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek. In other words, I used to cringe, so I was nervous on day one to start this process with Grassroots.
But first week in and these fears are dispelled; every actor that walked through the door of The Lion and Unicorn Theatre arrived with a smile, the drive to work, most lines learnt and a cup of coffee. It really was a comforting sight.
From there we talked through ideas to raise the company's already exciting profile and we all chipped in with ideas and respectfully listened. I remember sitting there, even in that first hour, thinking that I was with people who were open-minded and hungry for the company to succeed.
But then came the real test, the part of the day we'd all been dreading, the part that displayed how much work we had done, the part that tested our lines and demonstrated whether we had what it took to transform into Shakespeare's characters: it was the first stagger-through of A Midsummer Night's Dream! I won't lie, I was terrified.
What happened? Well, to start, there was no judgement on work or characters but only a joy in seeing the seeds of how the play may work. And of course it fell flat on its face a few times and lines went all over the place, I think I walked in to the wrong scene more than once, but what was great is that we got up without ego or fear and we just tried out what we wanted to.
Kane as Antonio with Siobhan Daly as Sebastian in
rehearsals for The Tempest
From there came discussion, what we liked and what we didn't. Without a director, it's easy to fall into a trap of talking in circles for hours with no resolve but we knew our time constraints early on and we work fast and collectively to make each scene work. And all this goes for The Tempest too; seeing what people have to offer, I'm not worried.
The Tempest, heavier than Dream, has already started to become more fluid and I really think this is down to the cast feeling more confident with their characters. For me personally, I've found it so helpful to always have people to call on when I'm struggling on what to do with text or understanding the meaning of this complicated language and verse.
It's been a great first week, full or laughter and ideas and in these forthcoming weeks, we are focusing taking this fun and energy and making sure that the we offer Shakespeare at its best, accessible to its audience.
|Kane in rehearsals for The Tempest as Antonio|
Lysander (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Antonio (The Tempest)