This blog was originally published on This Week in Sarasota in February 2013.
The Study of Acting
In acting, there are many different philosophies when it comes to finding your character. I’ve been thinking a lot about these philosophies as I attempt to embody Lady Macbeth, who I am playing in A Taste of Shakespeare at Theatre at Home Resource. Essentially, she’s an ambitious, cold-blooded killer. Kathryn is more of a happy, warm-hearted, not-so-much-a killer type.
I’ve been working with my director and relying on my training to help manifest into a vicious, bloodthirsty queen. When a character is so far removed from yourself, one bit of training that I learned in my Movement class with Bruce Lecure at the University of Miami is to try and base your character on an animal.
What is your animal’s posture? How does it move? Why does it move?
What can I say … it worked for Anthony Hopkins’ snake impression in Silence of the Lambs and even Jim Carrey as a bird-ish Ace Ventura.
So, on my way to the grocery store, I had my own animal epiphany: Lady Macbeth is a tigress! She’s a regal, evil, purposeful tigress. Clearly, I had to test this out in some sort of acting exercise. And as I pulled into my destination, I figured there was no time or place like the present.
I decide to let Kathryn stay in the car and allow Lady Macbeth to slowly exit her stealth Ford Focus ZX3 and take in the surroundings. A variety of prey push their shopping carts on the concrete-paved plain. LM heads to the feeding ground …
She glowers as she enters though the automatic doors. Deliberate and sure-footed, a tigress really makes use of her hips and her shoulders. LM ignores the female that looks startled as LM pounces on the last of the shopping baskets before her.
A kind, special-needs employee greets LM.
“I like your dress,” he says.
LM doesn’t know what to do but Kathryn chimes in with a quick “thank you” and then gets back into character.
Attacking the Boar’s Head
LM heads over to the deli counter to stalk her deli meat—sorry, Kathryn, LM would never buy your organic oven-roasted turkey. As she approaches the counter, LM glares at the nearby couple choosing between hummus with pine nuts or roasted red peppers. Being this close to a man-eating carnivore, they should fear LM! Fear me, dammit!
They’ve decided to go for the hummus with pine nuts.
LM places her order at the counter with a growl in her voice: roast beef. One pound. Sliced … thick.
With her pound of meat now in hand, LM radiates power as she moves onto the dairy aisle. She stalks the mozzarella sticks; grabbing them off the shelf, she fantasizes about ripping the cheese apart … slowly, with pleasure, one string at a time.
LM takes deliberate, animalistic steps to the next item on her list.
“Can I help you?” says a pesky human as he fills the shelves with angel hair pasta.
LM looks him over. He is weak but he can help her. A deep, Shakespearean voice emanates from her lips: “Know you not where the oil of olive rests?”
She ignores his strange stare as he says, “Do you mean olive oil?
“… yes …”
“Sure, that’s in Aisle 4 …”
Without another look at him, LM stalks off.
She finishes her shopping, striking fear and trepidation into those around her. No doubt, that freckled teenage boy was terrified as he asked whether she preferred paper or plastic.
Okay, so I’m thinking that I really only made an impact on the angel hair pasta stocker when, like Yoda, to him I spoke.
However, I will say that I have a better sense of how LM walks like a tiger. Publix is a big place and by the time I’d filled my basket, my deliberate feline steps felt both lithe and ferocious. Not to mention, they really seemed to separate me from the “humans.” I felt superior and indifferent to them—hopefully how a killer would feel. And I know these techniques are something I will continue to practice as I find my character.
Also, I learned that Kathryn really doesn’t like roast beef. Good thing my kitty cat does.
Check out these scenes – King Lear and Macbeth – from the performance!
Created and directed by Louise Stinespring, starring Tom Aposporos, Kathryn Parks, and Seva Anthony in “A Taste of Shakespeare” presented at Theatre at Home Resource in Sarasota, Florida. This clip features a scene from King Lear – Act 2, Scene 4. Assistant Directed by John Stinespring. Video by Costars, Don Walker. Performed in March 2013.
Created and directed by Louise Stinespring; Kathryn Parks and Ryan Fitts star in “A Taste of Shakespeare” presented at Theatre at Home Resource in Sarasota, Florida. This clip features 2 scenes from Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 5 and Act 1, Scene 7. Assistant Directed by John Stinespring. Video by Costars, Don Walker. Performed in March 2013.