“… For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet, and her Romeo.”
Blackout… applause… the lights come up, and we take a bow for the last time as a cast. We file out to backstage where we all hug and congratulate each other for a great last show; a great season of this very unique production of Romeo And Juliet.
It’s been such a blast bringing this show to life for you all. From early in the rehearsal process – when we first explored the set, learnt our lines and discovered our characters – to sharing the show with all the wonderful audiences who have come to see us at the Opera House and the Arts Centre… the whole experience has been amazing. And every cast is like a little family that you live with for a time; but like everything, eventually it finishes. No matter how many shows you do, it’s always a bit sad when it comes to an end. It reminds me of one of Prospero’s great speeches in the Tempest (which Bell Shakespeare is currently performing at the Opera House!):
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
So what’s next?
We’re back on the road!!
Yep – after a little sleep, a few naps, we’re back in the rehearsal room with our in school shows: Macbeth Undone, Midsummer Madness, and Just Macbeth (abridged). Now we’ve been split back to Team Ariel and Team Caliban and the competition is on! Both teams are going to Melbourne, then Team A are hitting regional Victoria and Canberra while Team C visit Tasmania.
Re-rehearsing a show that you haven’t performed in a while is pretty strange. Your mind can play all kind of tricks on you – “Is this where I moved on this line? Where have the purple flowers gone? We definitely need new magic thumbs!” – but it’s also really fun. Because we know the shows so well, we can try all kinds of different things with the characters. As an actor you can make lots of creative choices, and coming back to a show gives you the opportunity to branch out a bit.
This is also the time of year to start thinking beyond The Players… scary! One of the most important parts of being a professional actor is auditioning. It’s like having to constantly go for a job interview, and if you’re lucky you have lots of them. Some of us are starting the think about what we want to do next, and luckily we’ve got a whole year’s worth of experience under our belt which means we’ll be show-fit and ready to take on the next challenge. So keep an eye out for us, you never know what we might be doing next…
See you back in school!
THE MIGHTY TEAM ARIEL
Said my 15 year old self.
No, that’s a lie. I didn’t really “hate” him; I just didn’t “get” him and what he was harping on about. When I was in high school, I had some great English and Drama teachers. I remember studying Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear probably even a Sonnet or two. English was even one of my favorite subjects in school. But Shakespeare? Nope. Nadda. No deal. The groans and sighs from the students as his plays were being handed out in class were almost unanimous. Being a bit of an English nerd, I didn’t mind too much. I remember liking the stories but the actual language itself remained a big fat mystery. Shakespeare was something old and outdated that young people (like myself back then) had no use for and were being forced to learn…
So how did I get from thinking I hated Shakespeare to working for one of Australia’s leading theatre companies touring Shakespeare to schools?
I went to a school where most of the kids were from homes that had English as a second language or languages other than English. Most of these kids were also first or second generation Australians with parents who had migrated from another country. Shakespeare’s works were not something many of us grew up with around the house. And furthermore at my school, Sports was the Arts and English’s biggest competitor; and it often dominated with our attention and appreciation.
So I left Shakespeare as a boring,incomprehensible old fart with my signed/graffitied school uniforms, old textbooks and letters on colourful Morning Glory stationary (which is like a Japanese Typo) as I farewelled high school.
Until I went to university. Here, I studied Shakespeare from an acting perspective. Not having to approach it as a compulsory English text, I realized that I had forgotten something so simple yet so essential. I had forgotten to play.
I always loved playing when I was a kid. What kid doesn’t? And actors are constantly playing- we ‘re imagining, role playing, “acting”. Our “textbooks” are even called “plays”!
This is what I ignored when studying Shakespeare in English class. My sense of play. Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be enjoyed and performed, not just read sitting down but feeling it in your body and allowing your sense of play to discover what else the words could mean. Also looking up every complex and important word I didn’t understand in a dictionary specifically for Shakespeare (even those words you think you might know as their meaning may have changed from Shakespeare’s time to now) helped enrich my understanding of what these characters were saying. Once I did all this work and research, I then let it go. So now, when hearing the lines again, the musicality and richness of the words washed over me.
Even now, I am always feeling a small sense of pride and excitement when I discover something new about the lines. A new possible thought behind them which in turn can bring a new delivery to them, a new meaning. And trust me, I am still learning and still have so much to learn. You then start to realize that his stories are not so different to those contemporary novels we read today. There’s a reason why his works are being made and remade and re-imagined. They still speak to us today because his characters feel and express emotions we still have today: love, jealousy, betrayal, lust, anger, revenge, alienation.
Plus Shakespeare’s legacy can be seen all around us. He has had such a huge influence on our language. Shakespeare invented close to 1700 words (give or take); Words such as
assassination, aerial, bedroom, bump, countless, excitement, gossip, lacklustre, quarrelsome and watchdog. Phrases such as: “A fool’s paradise”, “a sorry sight”, “all that glitters is not gold”, “fight fire with fire” ,“fair play” and “send him packing”.
Working for Bell has made me look back on this journey I’ve had and renewed my appreciation for the Bard. My struggle with understanding Shakespeare in school is a huge reason why I love this job. I get to bring Shakespeare to schools across the country; allowing students to engage and access his work in a fun and entertaining way.
Isn’t it amazing how language can be your friend or your foe. It can add to feelings of inferiority, alienation, resentment if we can’t find a way in; and on the other hand, make us feel confident, open and proud when we do. The more we understand the language we are dealing with, the more we appreciate and open ourselves to feelings of achievement and wonder. Kind of like when you order something in another language for the first time successfully.
Lucky for us Shakespeare isn’t another language. It’s literally English. Just remember to have fun and play. Do your research and you’ll master it.
That’s what I would say to my 15 year old self if I could. And also to stop spending so much money on those adorably cute stationary pads with the animals on them. Your friends you see everyday in class don’t need hand written letters telling them you’ll see them at school tomorrow Alice.
Spend it on something more important. Like gelato. Which I will do right now. Thanks Alice. You’re welcome Alice. (Insert fist bump)
— Team Ariel
After finishing our first tour break, in which we had a fairly relaxing week at Bell Shakespeare headquarters in Sydney, Team Ariel have officially landed in Darwin. The weather is sweltering and the flora is green. Fresh out of the wet season, Darwin is beautiful and lush; however, several locals have already warned us to BEWARE OF CROCODILES! There are many signs around the area warning not to swim with the ferocious dinosaurs. We hadn’t planned to, but it’s nice to know the dos and don’ts.
We performed two cracking shows at the hospitable Taminmin College in Humpty Doo (the best-named town in Australia) and from that came my QUESTION OF THE DAY:
How would a student living in Darwin get into acting?
There is no ‘correct’ path to follow to pursue acting. No matter whether you live in Sydney, Darwin or anywhere, everyone’s career path is different. It’s important to remember that, and to remember not to compare yourself to anyone else. You can, and will, carve your own path.
I think involving yourself in theatre is a great way to nurture an interest in acting. Going to see theatre is a great way to learn, and develop a critical eye. Also, doing classes inside and outside of school helps too. Do some research online and search for some acting classes in the local area. If acting classes are scarce and there isn’t a lot to get involved in, get a group of friends together that share your passion for acting and put on a play yourselves! Tell your friends and family about it, and get some people to come along. In doing this, you’re cultivating skills in acting, producing, directing, marketing and ensemble building, as well as other skills that are invaluable to an artist. Last of all, make sure you read plays and acting books. Lots of them.
After the shows we decided we would go and check out one of the most hotly anticipated sights in Darwin, the Litchfield National Park. We were told this was the spot. It has waterfalls and walking trails, ponds, and native flora and fauna as far as the eye can see. On the way there, we saw a sight we hadn’t seen ever in our lives. We found a ‘130km/ph’ speed sign. I didn’t know these existed, and neither did the guys, so naturally we stopped to get some evidence, before doing some legal speeding.
After driving really fast for a while, we turned off the main road and approached Litchfield Park. The soil that flanked the road, as we drove, was as red as you could hope to see in the Australian outback. It wasn’t until we saw that that we realised how far from home we were, and special it was to be there. Before we knew it, we had arrived at Buley Rockhole.
After we had spend a good while swimming and jumping off whatever high rocks we could find, we packed up our gear and started the hour and a half journey back to Darwin city, but not before Cameron and I spotted a rather large and fascinating Goanna crawling along the rocks. The little guy (not actually that little) shuffled across our towels and shoes before having a quick sip of water and heading back up the rocks. It was quite the sight.
What an incredible week we have ahead in Darwin! Watch this space for more updates as we make our way across the country!
— Sam P (Team Ariel)