What do you think the driving force behind your character is?
I think Henry values loyalty very highly. He appears to be deeply conservative and old-fashioned but reveals himself to be a staunchly committed member of the troupe and surprisingly tolerant.
How do you inhabit your character? Do they have specific gestures, movements, facial expressions or habits?
Nowra provides some pretty specific instructions regarding Henry’s physical peculiarities: an injured arm, inability to maintain eye contact or tolerate physical contact, he stutters and generally has a nervous disposition. This gave me a helpful springboard into building the character. It’s my job to empathise with all facets of the character and so I allow him to evolve as my understanding grows throughout the rehearsal process. I try to avoid any pre-determinations or judgement and instead let the circumstances of the scene inform his responses and behaviour. Over the course of the rehearsal period I discover finer details and allow them to be layered in organically, all the while keeping a keen ear out for directorial approval (or otherwise!).
How does your character grow during the course of the play?
At the outset, Henry is extremely insecure. The most obvious change you see in him is his growth in confidence amongst his cohort. His ever-present stutter disappears completely whilst he’s performing in Così fan tutte. In a profound sense he finally finds his voice.
Can you describe a moment or exercise from rehearsal that helped you interpret/develop your character?
Sarah Goodes (Director) has a remarkably humane approach to telling stories. She attends to all the characters in a delicately considered way and finds beautiful moments of interaction between them. The development of my character has been a constant growth throughout rehearsals in response to her careful guidance.
How important is experimentation and improvisation in rehearsal for you, in regards to interpreting the script and its characters?
I guess experiment and improvisation are important to embrace in any rehearsal situation. Improvising can be a brilliant opportunity to explore the myriad ways in which a character might respond and behave. It’s good to surprise yourself by exploring further afield than initial instincts may have dictated. Rather than be limited by the old cliché, “my character wouldn’t do that,” it’s good to push yourself from time to time with the response, “what if they had to?” Humans are infinitely capable of contrary behaviour and our characters should be too, so long as it doesn’t corrupt the storytelling.
Do you have a favourite line from the script? It mightn’t be your own. Why is it your favourite?
At drama school we were taught that acting is the passionate pursuit of your objectives. Roy’s line, “Music is what love between humans should be” seems to be one of the main things that drive him to inspire the patients to commit to the production of Così fan tutte. They find a profound connection to one another along the way. It always strikes me how much this line means to him.
Published on 30 April 2019