We are now well into rehearsals for Twelfth Night with the SSA (Southsea Shakespeare Actors), and I am finally starting to sense Viola. This being my first major speaking part, I think up til now I have just been trying to take it all on board – the lines, the many rehearsals, the lines, the backstory, the lines, the responsibility of actually having to carry a scene here and there rather than flit on, say your two lines, and march proudly off. As I’ve settled more into the rehearsal process however, I have now started to detect a new voice, coming in just here for a moment, just there for another. At first I was too busy focusing on what I was actually trying to say on those lines to give it much thought, give her much thought, but now I’m starting not only to sense her but to actually feel her. Sometimes she’s peeking over my shoulder at the script, as I sit there on my bed desperately trying to learn lines, other times, and these are of course the most magical, she’s there with me, inside, waiting to take the reins, to have her moment – sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much.
Of course, she’s a part of me, not just some independent being roaming the corridors of my day-to-day life. Let’s call her an offshoot – she is born of my life, my blood, my being, but as each rehearsal comes and goes she becomes a little more independent, she starts to develop her own way of walking, her own way of talking. Her voice gets a little louder. Now, unlike an actual offshoot, she will never exist independently from me, not unless she is captured on film to survive beyond my little window of time here. But I like to think of her as apart from me, all the same. It means when she comes to me, when it is her who is speaking, and her that is laughing and loving, crying and rejoicing, for that little time I’m not me, and I am free.