Amanda McGregor, Actor in Simon Stephen’s ‘Port’ at NIDA, where Kristine directs

Photo by Remy Hii

“In the process thus far, my startling discovery has been that I don’t know my process all that well… What exactly am I doing?

I am asking myself  ‘does it help me that I know a billion facts about my “character”?’ Or that I know the history of the town in which my “character” was born? These facts may color my world, perhaps provide vital information, but do they help me DO THE DEED? I’m starting to wonder.

Sometimes with so much information in one’s head, the thoughts swirl around, the “information” is confusing, my needs become unclear, and ultimately my storytelling becomes muddy.

The problem appears to be: playing out the story moment to moment, staying with the person with whom I’m interacting, being alive, being real, being honest, being open. But above all (for me personally), simplifying and knowing what it is I’m playing. Without these two things, the clarity evaporates, I become lost and I become, for want of a better word – bland.   One of the best discoveries I have made is that I can be at my emotionally “fullest” and committed during improvisation. To gain a sense of the truth of the situation, and of the level of commitment required, improvisation throws me into the unknown and forces me to respond honestly and openly.

The logical step would thus be to find that sense of improvisation when speaking text.  Improvising when speaking?? It seems so simple and easy – but the fact of the matter is, our “text brains” can lock us in the second we speak those words on the page, and prevent us from being alive and free to play!

For me, the process  working on ‘Port’ with Kristine has been three-pronged. Firstly, my task is to stay in improvisation mode ALL THE TIME. Secondly, that improvisation must be fully committed every time – there are no halves for me; it leads to what I now refer to as “nothingness”. Thirdly, there must be something clear to play. Identifying the all-important subtext has become tantamount for revealing the story. A tangible subtext that speaks to me, and that drives every word and every action I carry out. Without it, I flounder. And I fake it. And faking it will only ever be “good”, which is never good enough. Let’s go for extraordinary.”

Photo by Remy Hii


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