We open Hamlet in less than two weeks.
I’m at that awkward midpoint of my rehearsal process, where I’ve figured out a lot about my character and grown undeservedly cocky. This is dangerous. It’s like being up by twenty points at half-time and thinking you don’t have to hustle to win.
You do have to hustle. You can’t let up. You have to stay in the game.
Like playing a sport, acting is a fascinating mix of the intellectual, the emotional, and the physical. I use my mind to understand what my character is after and what’s in her way; I call on my emotions to provide the inner drive she needs to fight for what she wants; and I teach my body to walk her journey in her shoes.
Right now I need to “return to the text” as my friend Bruce Evers puts it, and track Gertrude’s journey through the play, incorporating what I’ve learned about her over the last two weeks. I know so much more than I did when we started. I know what to say and where to stand and when to make my entrances and exits, of course. But I also know who I’m dealing with, because I am seeing a flesh-and-blood Hamlet and a host of other characters come to life in the rehearsal hall.
Now it’s time to make every step of my journey – every interaction with every other character – strong and specific. I need to sit down with my script and find the tiny details that will help me live in the moment, ground my emotions, and connect each scene to the next. I need to sharpen my mental game.
If I do that – and I will – I’ll be ready to throw my body back into the game and play to win.