Wednesday, 14 August 2013

My Experiences as a Bad Guy...

Recently, I have finished performing at the "The Birthday of the Infanta" at Eastwood Park Theatre in Glasgow. I've been up early, travelling to Glasgow, working there from 10 till 5 and staying over there for a few days. It has been a tiring time but a rewarding experience. We started rehearsing for this piece last year with the performance supposed to happen in October. It got cancelled due to other commitments and the fact that some of the actors was really busy during that time. I portrayed a character of Don Pedro. I was Don Pedro last year and this year aswell.

Don Pedro is one of the most difficult characters I have ever portrayed. He is a villain in the story and his controlling nature made it difficult to play this character. For the first two weeks of the rehearsals, I used a stick that used to be a mop but was used as his own staff. Using this has helped me so much as it gave me an idea of how would he be holding the staff and how would use it. The stick is his power. The stick helps him to control people in a way he expected to do so. He didn't care for anyone, he only cared for himself. He wanted to be able to run the palace in a way that it should be run. He believed that the king was an awful king and he doesn't take things too seriously. Don Pedro didn't care for the Infanta aswell. The Infanta (spanish word for princess) was the daughter of the King but after the death of the Queen he decided to give her up. Don Pedro was the one who raised her. He wanted to be able to be the one who controls the palace so morphing her into someone who is quite reserved and easily controlled is something Don Pedro is happy about. He can do as he pleases. But she found someone called Carlos who she loves and is happy again. He was furious. He had a scar on his face and his back. Don Pedro thought that it wasn't a good look and the fact the Infanta loves him means he could be the future king. He didn't want that and decided he must go therefore is responsible for the death of Carlos.

He was a horrible person. I had to disconnect my emotions at the end and not cry for the Infanta and Carlos because of emotions involved in that scene. I almost got into tears on Saturday when I saw Claire (the Infanta) coming on stage, almost in tears. I managed to ignore the feelings and carried on with the scene without crying. Even though he was a horrible character, I had a lot of fun playing him. There is something compelling about playing an evil character. You get to do things you wouldn't normally do in real life. I get to stamp my stick in frustration, I get to give judgmental looks, I get to control people. I'm not like that at all but being able to do this is so much fun. It wasn't easy but once you ease yourself in it, it was great fun.

My favourite moment in the rehearsals was when myself, Connor and Adam (who played Carlos) went to a room with Jane (our choreographer) and Daniel (works at Solar Bear and is an actor) to do some work on our character. Jane brought in a bag filled with grass, sticks, soil, bugs from the forest and dumped it on a bunch of newspapers for us to play about with. It was very helpful for Adam to work on as his character lived in the forest since he was a baby. I sat down and created several pieces based on the characters of the play. I created the King with a wilted leaf, representing his heartbreak, I created the Infanta using soil to make her dress and several petals shaped like a heart all over the dress itself, I created Don Pedro using soil to made a torso and several sticks in place to represent several hands, controlling the palace as he is a puppeteer. I also created the palace and what would it look like. There was a lot of long grass so I placed them together and made a roof out of them along with soil placed in front of them, with grass on top of them. It looked a bit dark, representing what it looked like under Don Pedro power. It looked like there was life sucked out of it. Happiness didn't exist. There was more judgement, discrimination and prejudice occurring. There was a certain sadness to it. Daniel brought in masks for us to try out and get ourselves into character with. We got ourselves into mask and improvised a scene. We can do it with interaction or no interaction at all. It was great fun. I've managed to pick out a couple of things from it which made Don Pedro who he is now. He is a perfectionist and obsessed with things being clean and precised. His posture suggested that he looks down on people, his tall stance made him seem superior. His judgmental nature came across in that scene when he meets Carlos and his disgust at him showed. This workshop really helped me a lot. It helped me with the understanding of the story and the character of Don Pedro. It helped me develop him future and make him a well rounded person. An evil person.

Performing Don Pedro in front of the audience was the hardest thing I've ever done. I knew the audience wouldn't like him and I was nervous about it. I didn't want to play him as a panto villain. I wanted him to be a subtle villain. I wanted him to bring an atmosphere to the stage, a negative atmosphere. I think I've achieved this after hearing the audience feedback. The feedback was great as they said they hated my character, how evil I was, how they wanted to punch me and how surprised they were that I was a lovely person in real life (this is ironic considering they are really negative things but it's positive to me). I was pleased with the reaction. I am happy they reacted like that. It was exactly how I wanted it to be.

This has been one of my highlights of 2013. The Birthday of the Infanta is amazing. I don't care if I come across as bias but it honestly is. I loved every minute of it. This won't be the last time you'll see Don Pedro though...

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