Kate Winslet spends hours building a back story for each character she plays, and at the end of a movie she has notebooks filled with thoughts and script pages covered with scribbles. Meryl Streep approaches every character new, trying not to predetermine her method for ‘finding’ each character, but tries to allow the character to speak to her. The actors that I really admire are the ones that lose themselves in the character, and spend months researching, traveling if needed, to create the life and world for whom they embody on screen.
In the theatre realm of life, when reading plays like “I Am My Own Wife” or “The Syringa Tree”, the finished product is fantastic, and the preface describes years or perhaps a decade long journey that lead them to their final published production. These playwrights wrote, workshopped, performed, and re-wrote as little as four or five times before they finally felt like they had “finished.”
One lesson that is staring me in the face at the moment is the amount of research a successful artist does, and how unrealistic it is to think that you can write something down, perform it, and expect a rave review.
The biggest elephants in my bedroom at the moment are the facts that I am NOT an avid reader, researching is NOT my favorite past time, and I want results NOW, not 10 years from now.
Luckily, when you need to learn something, for example patience, life provides you with endless line-ups of indecisive customers who take 20 minutes to buy a can of tomatoes. This year, life is confronting me with many situations that are teaching me to learn to love the process. After rehearsing a play for 2 months at Seacoast Studios, where I study in Vancouver, we found out we could not get the rights, and so never got to perform the piece for anyone. Talk about all process. I am currently writing a children's play about divorce. Talk about a play that needs research and contemplation! I have been watching movies and taking books out of the library to find out what would help a child going through divorce deal with the aftermath of their crumbled universe. Finally, I am researching the role of Joan from Bernard Shaw’s ‘Saint Joan.’ There is no date for performing this role, just a role I would like to play and explore, not to mention a great character development exercise for future roles I will play. The great thing, a pleasant surprise in fact, is that slowly (ever soooooo SLOWLY) I am beginning to enjoy the reading and learning. In other words the process is becoming enough on it’s own, without needing to have a finished product valued by the enjoyment of it’s audience.
As Poiema, we are doing the same thing, realizing that building a good company takes years. If we wish to be successful, we have to learn to love writing, re-writing, workshopping and researching - loving the process. Lucky for us we love being together so much, that learning to love the process is that much easier.