Friday, 21 March 2014

Too many cooks spoil the broth? Helena Doughty on rehearsing, Grassroots style

Helena Doughty as Bianca in Othello (copyright: GSL)

Grassroots’s process requires input from all, a fair democracy in which everybody involved shapes the play, on set, period, costumes…well everything!  There is no director; no one to say whether it is “right” or “wrong”, to keep us in check, to time keep. We are completely alone. This is incredibly daunting especially for an actor, like myself who craves the attention and assurance from a person of authority. They also say too many cooks spoil the broth, which I usually find to be true. So I was rightly nervous to start rehearsals with Grassroots but if you don’t challenge yourself when will you grow?!
Before my first day to be honest I was trying not to worry about the chaos that was bound to ensue once we started working….Surely it will be manic….I won’t be able to get a word in…What if we offend each other with suggestions?....My mind raced as having been in similar “let’s all be equal and work together” situations before they all turned a little Lord of the Flies; dominant characters prevailing and the more reserved getting side-lined. I was intrigued to see how quickly we would revert to have one all presiding leader, because I was near sure of it.

Rehearsal fun! Helena (Bianca), Emily (Emilia), Nari (Othello) &
John (Lodovico)

What I wasn’t aware of when I was preconceiving ideas about how this strange process would work is that we would have what Grassroots call a “Playmaker”. This is a nominated person on the day, they have no control over what is decided but their main objective is to hear everybody and keep order. Kind of like a Speaker of the House in Parliament refereeing between parties/ideas just the difference is we probably achieve a lot more in a day. This allows us freedom to play and ponder because one person is dedicated to keeping to the schedule and the peace (not that we are particularly violent).

With this we can really have fun, it allows for a wide range of diverse and brilliant ideas as nothing is rejected. It is a warm, nurturing environment which lends itself to new & exciting takes on old, familiar text, I also love that we are developing the play just as they would have in Shakespeare time. I like that this is ours, we have full ownership and we are a Company in the truest sense of the word. I have thrown off my need for acceptance and praise, which is liberating and it definitely makes me think…What on earth was I worrying about in the first place?!
Helena and Adam (Roderigo) 

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