Character And Conundrum
by Rory Kinnear
When I was very little I didn’t want to be an actor. I wanted to be a butcher. Or a goalkeeper. Early in my adolescent years I took the risk of appearing as Sir Epicure Mammon in The Alchemist and Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida and then, finding to my young astonishment that I was getting attention and some praise for my performances, I began to think that acting might be a better fit. My father had been an actor, but he had died when I was ten, and so in lots of ways I had to discover it for myself.
One of the things that I discovered, and which became clear especially when I was at university and working on Buckingham in Richard III and Petruchio in The Taming Of The Shrew, was that what I got most excited by was the rehearsal process. It seemed to require identifying the particular conundrums that a play and character threw up, the various forks in the road ahead, examining them thoroughly, and then making a decision. There wasn’t necessarily a right decision – especially, as I discovered to my delight, with Shakespeare – but there had to be a decision. I tend to approach parts initially just by thinking about them, and then afterwards I try to figure out what works well in the doing – they’re two different disciplines really, for me – and then I try to marry them up to get a wholly successful and coherent performance, which then needs to fit in with the design, direction, other actors, and all the other aspects of a production which must combine so that everything is working together and everyone is trying to tell the same story.
Rest of the essay under the cut. Beware: a long damned read.