Back in September I wrote about the read-through of a new play, Thursday’s Child. Written by local writer Clare Campbell-Collins, the play follows Anne, a young woman trying to rebuild her life through helping others, because for the moment, she just can’t help herself.
We’re about a third of the way into rehearsals and have just gone off-book for the first few scenes. Although this stage always terrifies many actors, it’s surprising how much you do already know once someone takes the script away. I can learn through repetition but I find learning through doing much more effective, so the fact that we’ve read through, marked and physically acted the first two scenes quite a few times has really helped. It’s like it’s etched into your memory a bit each time you do the scene.
Last Sunday was my first rehearsal without the script, and as we set off into the first scene I suddenly noticed something. I was moving around without the physical encumbrance of the script in my hand, yes, but there was another hindrance that had gone. Without the action of looking down at the script, which of course reminds you that these are words someone else has written and that you’re acting, it felt as if the words has come from me. With no obvious source of the words, it seemed that they had to be coming from me.
The sudden freedom this gave me was amazing. I felt present, in the moment, actually living and breathing as Anne. When I stood up it was Anne’s decision to stand, and when I spoke it was her/me that had originated those words, not a script in my hand. It really is true that only when we put the scripts down can we really being ‘acting’.
This afternoon I’m rehearsing the second scene – my first time off-book for this one. A scene that was fizzing with energy even with the scripts in our hands, I can’t wait to see how it will come alive without them.