Welcome to the second in a five part series, Cast Catch-Up, where the wonderfully talented cast of BUG will be sharing their thoughts on the script, the rehearsal process, their characters, and everything in between.
REX RYAN -- PETER EVANS
Week 1 Rehearsal
The heartbreaking thing about acting is you almost always end up throwing away 90% of the work you’ve done – it doesn’t fit into the rehearsal process, what the other actors are doing, or what the play has turned into after exploring it. The first week of rehearsals is a mercurial process of discovery…AKA a sh!tshow.
The play we have chosen is Bug by an excellent writer from Oklahoma named Tracy Letts (you may know his two screenplays; Killer Joe and August: Osage County). Each play will demand a different approach from an actor and director so there’s no real definitive thing I/we do. There are some constants though.
With Bug, there are a few immediate things that need to be considered and tackled and they will sort of dictate where the initial rehearsal time will be spent. Right off the bat there are some technical things I have to start getting my head around e.g. my character, Peter Evans, claims he is an ex-U.S. soldier who has seen combat in Syria. He is from a very remote part of Oklahoma, he was home-schooled etc. So I do the research on these specific things early so they can seep into me as we explore the play.
This play also throws up other specific technical things like drug use, medication, physical pains and impediments that I like to acknowledge early, do loads of research on, and then forget about it and see if it sits into the character naturally. All the decisions about the character come from the text and are rooted in the play. I gather loads of clues and facts from the script such as what the character says about himself, specific stage directions, what others say he is, where has he come from etc. etc. If the writer is good, you will have everything you need in the script. Many of the decisions are made for you by an excellent writer.
But it’s not a waste… all of this is like chipping away at a big giant block of marble until you have a sculpture that resembles a human, or-searching for a needle in a hay stack only to find there is no needle and the haystack is a pool of quicksand and you’re dead…
I’m also a big advocate of learning your lines inside out, following the speech patterns the writer has given you, looking at your scene partner and just doing it. That’s really what it comes down to, and if the writer has given the character love, he/she/it will seep into you over four weeks and be real and honest and people will listen to you.