(Fourth in a series about creating a new production of “Metamorphoses” at Georgia Shakespeare, summer 2013.)
We start with the words. We are always going back to words, returning to the text, as one local actor intones with faux reverence. But there’s truth behind the humor. Words matter.
As actors, we learn our words by heart, the implication being that we take them into our hearts, not just into our minds. We pay attention to every single one of them. That’s why you’ll see us huddled in corners, faces buried in our scripts, pencils in hand to scribble notes on meaning and pronunciation (especially in this play, where the names of the characters are literally all Greek to me).
Even before we memorize, we scrutinize. For this play, we dig into both the script and its source material in Greek mythology. Our guide for that journey is Chandra Owenby Hopkins – aka “Dr. C” – our dramaturg for this production. She’s built us a research website providing images, sounds, and background on every story we tell. (You can follow along at www.gs.metamorphoses.weebly.com.)
Words grab our attention, touch our hearts, enlighten our minds. They are the actor’s stock in trade. In Shakespeare’s day, people supposedly came to the theatre to hear the play, not just to see it. They came for the auditory experience, and so they were called the audience. We live in a highly visual culture now, but I believe words still matter deeply. What do you think?