Q44 Theatre Company will be presenting their first offering of 2015, Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love, in a few short weeks. The actors, director and other creatives are hard at work polishing, refining, exploring and journeying through Shepard’s rich and complex text. Their journey as creatives is also rich and complex but, as all actors and directors know, the journey can also be filled with moments of indecision, struggle and discovery. Read on as Q44 founder and director, Gabriella Rose-Carter, and actors Rebecca Fortuna, Mark Davis, Sam Allen and William Prescott share their Dear Diary entries to reveal their inner most sanctum – the rehearsal room.

Gabriella Rose-Carter – Director:

I love laughing uncontrollably in rehearsals – it fills the room with endorphins.

Last night I re-watched the Shepard and Dark documentary about Sam Shepard and his long time friend Johnny Dark. Dark spoke about Shepard’s relationship with his Father and how it was very King Lear. I ask myself – who is the Old Man in ‘Fool for Love’? I want to explore this with Sam today and how from the betrayal Lear goes insane.

There are so many things to explore with this piece. Is the Old Man Eddie’s unconscious? Does betrayal make us insane? Is this a nightmare or a bad dream? Or is it an exploration from Eddie’s conscious and unconscious?

Sam wrote ‘Fool for Love’ to redeem his guilt for leaving O-Lan Jones for Jessica Lange. He believes that there is no truth, it’s all Destiny and Fate.

Rebecca Fortuna – May

I’m at rehearsal, sitting on the bed of a ‘stark low-rent motel room’ in the American desert (our set) waiting to start a run of the show and I look around the room and feel so blessed to be doing what I love but more importantly to have such a great team who are so much fun; I truly love this crazy bunch of people.

Is this a dream or reality? Am I talking from my unconscious or conscious mind? Is he really here or have I dreamed him up? Do I hate him or do I love him? Do I want him to stay or can I finally let him go? These are all the questions that run through May’s mind as we rehearse. It is so great to have a director who is brave enough to explore the realms of reality and the reconstruction of a dream, which has stemmed from Shepard’s obsession with trance states, surrealism and the supernatural.

Reading letters from Sam Shepard has given me great insight into his life, mind and feelings at the time of writing ‘Fool for Love’ and who the characters are based on. It has been really great exploring Shepard’s past and his relationship with O-Lan Jones who was his first wife and mother of his son Jesse. Mark and I, as Eddie and May, are hugging, then fighting, yelling then crying, wrestling each other to the floor and then he accidentally hits himself in the face with a door or stands on my foot and we are laughing hysterically. This range of emotions, from the most tender to the most violent, can be explored because Mark and I have developed a friendship, trust and confidence in each other that means we feel safe and supported at all times.

Opening night is creeping closer and it still feels like just yesterday that I was saying ‘only six more months until we open’. I guess it is true that time surely flies when you are having fun! I can’t wait to share this story!!

Mark Davis – Eddie

Working on ‘Fool for Love’ which Shepard wrote during a time of huge grief for having abandoned his wife and son for another woman, it is hard not to see the Eddie character as not only Shepard’s father but also as he himself. It’s an acknowledgement that he is repeating similar patterns.

Being so influenced by Samuel Beckett the plays surreal element has been both an obstacle and an adventure to explore. I’ve discovered for me that I cannot play the idea of something surreal or weird for the sake of weird. I have to break it down and look at it from a different angle. Not a logical angle but to use my imagination. With that these themes take form and make sense even if I cannot explain them with words they make sense in the scene work.

Sam Allen – Old Man

Feeling the part today. My back is a little sore from sitting in a rocking chair for five hours. (I don’t think that sentence has ever been written before.) What kind of precious actor complains about relaxing in a rocker next to a heater while drinking (fake) whisky and occasionally muttering!

We’ve been working on the connection between the OLD MAN and Sam Shepard’s father; a hard man, an angry man, a somewhat learned and charming man, and in a round about way, a sensitive man. Adding this research to the work is exciting. Investigations are always exciting. Now to add these qualities to his gait and twitches (Luckily I’m a twitch based actor).

Watching Rebecca, Mark and Will work (from my chair) is a joy. A super-talented and delightful bunch of people. As scary and exciting as the impending opening night is, I know I’m going to miss this little world we’ve built when it’s all over.

William Prescott – Martin

We’re two weeks out and this last rehearsal has led me into a place of complete ease and comfort after quite frankly feeling a little shaky. I have great actors opposite me and a brilliant director in Gabriella to thank for that comfort.

I was struggling with this character until Gab realised the parallels between Eddie/Martin and Sam Shepard/Johnny Dark (his long term friend of some 20 years at the time of writing this play) respectively.

With Martin, there’s a blank canvas in regards to his background. So, using Johnny Dark as a base is something I’ve only just investigated today leading into our next rehearsal. It’s given me so much clarity and excitement around what we can play with inside the four walls of this “stark motel room”.

That moment as an actor when you’ve found your character can happen day 1, or at the 11th hour, but when you’ve found him/her, you can’t wait to explore the possibilities. I’m looking forward to playing with this and seeing where it ends up on June 10. It should be noted that I’ve also enjoyed regularly assaulting Mark Davis as well. I can thank Shepard for writing that in next time I see him.

Fool For Love
June 10 – 28
www.q44.com.au/foolforlove

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