By Kat Edwards with contributions from THE MOORS actors, Felicia Bertch and Thomas Ward
People are fascinated by acting. Audiences often wonder how actors learn lines or get into character or walk around a stage in a garment or with the mannerisms of a time that the actor did not live through. Well, it’s Halloween and this seems like the perfect time and play to talk about being something that you are not.
We all started acting at roughly the age of two, we just didn’t call it that. We said “play” or “dress up”. I’ve watched my brother’s kids act like animals or monsters or aliens. They don’t ask if they can relate to a shark. They just say, “I’m a shark,” and then they are a shark. In addition to the declaration, they will give a physical indication that they are a shark like a hand-fin (in case it’s not clear by the completely un-shark-like snarls, the gnashing of teeth, or splashing of water), and the other kids accept it and react according to the circumstances of the world that they have created. This world in which their sibling is a shark. At its root, this is acting. It’s a little more complicated than that, but this is a blog not a book.
I caught up with Felicia Bertch and Thomas Ward, who happen to be playing animals in The Moors, to write me a little something about their process as well as the style of this particular show.
In the list of FAQs that actors get all the time is the “how do you get into character” question. Patrons are genuinely interested in how actors relate to their characters and there are a number of methods that an actor might use to “get there”. Part of this is personal work but also working with the director. Felicia says that Thomas and she “…had many discussions about how the animals in the play are often more human than the humans- running the emotional gamut and interacting fully and truthfully with each other in each and every moment.” Humanity. Always a great place to start when one is trying to portray an animal onstage or just finding anything to connect to as Thomas describes, “I can relate to every character I play. Even if he’s a dog. Even if he’s a king or a prince or a murderer or a saint. In The Moors I don’t ask myself ‘what if I was a dog.’ I ask myself ‘what if I was a sad philosopher king searching in vain for God, desperately in need of connection.’ Now that I can relate to.”
You can read their full statements at the bottom of this post. And you should. Because both are excellent.