Playing With Giants
Walking into the first rehearsal for The Tempest, I was excited to be at play again, knowing there are a world of possibilities for this production but also frightened. Frightened because most of my scenes were with Prospera played by the legendary Kate Burton. What if we didn’t have chemistry? What if she didn’t like me? What if I wasn’t youthful enough? All these questions floated through my head as I was on my way into the rehearsal hall. I saw my classmates which grounded me a bit, then I saw Kate Burton. Do I walk up to her? Do I sit next to her or across from her? Before I could drive myself into a panic attack Kate walked up to me and introduced herself. I told her I was playing Miranda and she gave me the biggest hug saying, “You’re my daughter.” It was just what I needed, comfort. For the rest of the day I was at ease. I watched as Kate introduced herself to every person in the room. She didn’t sit and wait for people to come up to her or bury herself in her script or phone. She warmed the room.
Over the course of the next few weeks Kate was the exact same person I met on the very first day of rehearsal. Encouraging, bold, and hard working. In our rehearsals, Kate, Sam Avishay (Ferdinand), and I always had an equal say in what felt right in the scene work. Kate made sure everyone felt seen no matter the role. This was my first time being led by a woman in a Shakespeare production and the experience was invaluable. I no longer thought of the title role of the play as the person with the biggest part, but as the person who has the opportunity to set the tone for the room.
The greatest thing about The Tempest though, was that we had a room full of theatre giants. Stephano was played by Robert Dorfman who was the most sincere clown I had ever seen. His partner Trinculo was played by Andrew Weems who had the cleanest precision. Manoel Felciano was a brave, open hearted Caliban that made audiences pay attention to every word. Alonso played by Robert Foxworth who broke my heart night after night. Gonzala played by Lizan Mitchell who is so fierce on stage, and gracious as can be off stage. Rene Thornton Jr was our manipulative and compelling Antonio who has done every Shakespeare in the cannon. And Ariel was played by Phillipe Bowgen who was a ball of energy and a treasure to work with.
Having the space to make a play with these giants was truly a gift. I am incredibly grateful for the training at USD which prepared me to take on the task of Miranda and to the artistic department at The Old Globe who had the imagination to see me as Miranda in this huge production of The Tempest.