James Hoare & Ric Hizon, Actor in Simon Stephen’s ‘Port’ at NIDA, where Kristine directs

Photo by Remy Hii

“A lot of the time in the first few days of rehearsal was spent on games. First with simple fun musical chair style games, then into games which rely upon focus on the other person or object. It took us ten to twenty goes at trying to keep a ball in the air but when people stopped thinking about their own responsibility to the ball and about just keeping the ball alive we reached 131!

I started to relax around Kristine and the other actors (whom, even though I’ve known for three years, I still get jittery when we start a new project together). There’s fun to be had in plays and sometimes the expectation you put on yourself to be accurate or brilliant or just respectful to the text or character can interfere with your work and then rehearsals become painful.

With Kristine, so far we have worked first at finding a truth as an actor. We do this through an improvisation that is similar to a situation in the play and then we see what the instinct of the actor is…what is the reaction and impulse of the actor, not the character? Kristine does not like to use the word “character” in her rehearsal room. We then try and use the impro to help us move seamlessly to text work…in and out of accents (our own and theStockportaccent of the play). Every now and then Kristine asks what we thought, what we felt…we discuss it, but never too much … only enough to get a simple idea … too much discussion can complicate the process says Kristine.

Mostly in the first week we have found an ease and comfort with ourselves. Kristine has built this as our foundation.” James Hoare

Photo by Remy Hii

“Up on the floor, we’re set with the task of achieving and sustaining an open and relaxed state in which we can simply play the scene. It’s the enjoyment of the work that makes it worthwhile: finding a place of ease and simplicity that allows the most profound nuances to evolve out of simply playing. I became aware of something today…not something I didn’t know, but something I perhaps needed to be reminded of: I am more at ease playing something that’s not me.

Our first reads and improvisations were geared towards establishing a connection – thus, “character” wasn’t necessarily the focus of the exercise. In fact, we were encouraged simply to place ourselves. Kristine suggested I improvise aSouth East Asian streetvendor. I know the sort. I used to walk past them on my way to school. As a third culture kid, though they weren’t ever really that huge a part of my life. But I do know the sort. I was initially apprehensive – I just didn’t see the relevance. But it stuck.

“You, pretty lady, you come here, buy souvenir.”

It was generalized and caricature, but there was some truth in it. And it was,admittedly, kinda fun to do. It did ultimately get me to “play” the scene.

The biggest problem is moving from improvisation to text while maintaining that same sense of freedom, and acceptance of uncertainty; once the words I use are determined by a script, I immediately go back to my old habits of “the most desired reading” – not really playing, but rather displaying what I’d like to play. Having the additional layer of some sort of vocal or physical parameter that makes me instinctively change my own rhythms essentially freed me up – freedom through specificity. We even tried the scene with, as yet, amateurish renditions of theStockportdialect: suddenly, the text seemed to spring to life…” Ric Hizon


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