If I had to say that I have a “type” that I normally fall into casting wise, it would be a shameless and loud young woman who likes to talk about the trials and tribulations of adolescence to basically anyone who will listen. I am 23 years old. Even when I went to college to study theater, one of the first roles I was cast in was a twelve-year-old who, shocker, talked about going through puberty. I will say that the role was “edgy” enough to have some of the citizens in my small college town complain, which I thought was pretty dope.
And I am not complaining. I love the challenge of depicting young people as full, rounded, and intelligent individuals. Because they are. In fact, when I write, I often write young characters. I think this is so important. That being said…I am so happy to have the challenge of playing older in this play. In fact, I am playing just about 50 years older!
And the same rules apply; I don’t want to just play “old,” I want to play an individual.
And, honestly, it’s all about the feet.
One way I like to find my characters is through their connection to the ground. You know how once you spend time with a group of people long enough, you can tell who they are by the sound of their footsteps? That sort of thing. Like my dad who charges down the stairs, or my mom who never takes her shoes off until she goes to bed. Maybe I am weird, and maybe I think about my feet too much, but I still feel self-conscious if I wear wooden heels because the clomp they make seems to demand attention, or so I tell myself, and I personally prioritize comfort over style any day. Does this say something about who I am I? You betcha! I digress…
I play three characters:
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the three is age. Marshall and Silvius being young (close to my own age), and Adam being older. Well, much older. Once I find the physical life of the character, the emotional life seems to fill itself in much more organically.
Adam has the added challenge of having a third foot of sorts, as he uses a cane. In his younger life, Adam was solidly planted on the ground, with purpose and confidence. His movements were direct and efficient. He now finds his feet stiff and unbendable, and the ground which once worked with him, now presents a whole new slew of dangers that only seems to increase with age. In his youth, he would have never let his feet drag, but for practicality’s sake, and gosh darn it, Adam is a practical man, he must shuffle. But most importantly, with the help of his cane (which I like to call Michael Caine), he gets the job done!
Working with images helps me a lot as an actor. In creating the character of Silvius, I imagined the balls of his feet as, quite literally, balls. Silvius is never fully centered and grounded. He has a swaying quality about him. The only direct thing about Silvius is his undying love for Phebe. Silvius certainly has a hard time standing still, and really the only thing that could get him to plant his cute little sneakers on the earth is if Phebe were to look him straight in his sweet, desperate little eyes and say, “I love you.” Wishful thinking, buddy.
And, finally, as Marshall, I get to wear heels. Marshall is 10000 times more confident walking in heels than I am. So that is great fun! Come see the show and all the cool shoes I get to wear.