Growth Through Character

by Teena Pugliese

When I heard that ICT’s first production was going to be a same sex version of R+J, I was thrilled by the idea of seeing a female Romeo. I always found Romeo the more feminine of the lovers, even though he was the “man.” SHE is fantastical, romantic, feels deeply and I couldn’t wait to see through new passionate eyes.

For 4 years, I’ve studied Stanislavsky’s later technique, Active Analysis, in partnership Dr. Sharon Marie Carnicke.The sessions continuously develop a flexible rehearsal technique for all performance styles that can help clear minds, expand imaginations, calm the spirit, focus concentration and ultimately become an adaptable actor. Through my studies I learned that Stanislavsky was no stranger to casting females in male Shakespearean roles either. In 1937, he cast a young woman, Irina Rozanova, as Hamlet at his Opera-Dramatic Studio; and he told her, “Hamlet will be your university.” I was handed my own university, and I was ready to grow.

We sometimes give the same scene to 2 different partners and thus we see the same scene twice a night. It blew my mind how different each “same scene” was. Everyone lives in different worlds; so different actors never bring the same choices, tempo, tactics, energy or emotions to a role. I absorbed these new perspectives that other actors gave me like a sponge. I paid more attention to my own actions throughout the day; what I was really doing when I spoke to people. It made me ask more questions and taught me the brilliance of having a cast and understudy who brought new ideas and objectives to the roles. Whether I agreed or disagreed with an idea, why it mattered that this word was stressed versus that word, it caused discussion and made us try new things. The female Romeo AND Juliet understudy for R+J, Angie Hobin, truly helped me with the development of Romeo. We grew through working on the structure of the language, fun memorization techniques and discussing different character choices. Working with an explorative partner was extremely important in discovering who this character was and her super objective. I started noticing a lot of similarities between myself and Romeo, and the places where I was afraid to go felt incredibly right once I understood the course it took to get me there.

Our director, Casey Kringlen, pushed me past what I thought I could do and into endless possibilities. I am forever grateful. I surprised myself and was always eager to try his next suggestion as they either frustrated or excited the hell out of me but always inspired me to work harder, go further and reach deeper. Because of the work he proposed, I was able to experience honest moments with the audience and with myself that I’ve always longed for. Once I understood the events and set my actions into motion the melodic Shakespearean text became necessary because of what lied beneath. And in return it didn’t hold me back but propelled me through the arch of the character at a faster rate than I ever dreamed possible.

The scene where I tell the Friar soooo I likes girls and I vowed to marry this girl I fell in love with last night and I know this is crazy I’ll explain it all later but I need you to marry us in a few hours; was particularly challenging not having ever experienced anything like it myself. It was a question that Casey asked in rehearsal that made me think about the power and delicacy of that moment. Had I ever had to tell somebody I love something that may change the way they see me forever? Whew. I hadn’t. But as an actor I had the gift of getting to experience that moment with my Juliet. We discovered what that was; I learned to fall in love with a new equal kind of love. And Friar Wes helped me embrace that fearful revelation.

I love Romeo, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to say goodbye to this soul I worked non-stop on for a brief month. She made me a better person. I wrote poetry everyday, sketched and painted, played closer attention to my dreams and ideas flowed more freely while I lived in her world. I felt more intuitive, intelligent, emotionally stronger and more confident in my daily choices. Finally, because Romeo’s stakes were much higher than my own, I found perspective and peace in the rest of my life.

I am extremely thankful to ICT and everyone who dedicated their time and energy to the show and gave a little piece of them selves in the process. We truly created some great work and we all grew as artist. Thanks, ICT!

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Prospero, in ACT IV, SCENE I, The Tempest: