Braden Moran, who will play Charlie in our upcoming production of Mary’s Wedding, shares some thoughts on his approach to beginning work on a new role:
The moment before jumping into a new text is always an exciting time. Its full of so many mixed emotions – I’m thrilled and terrified and anxious and intrigued…and honestly – there’s just a basic joy that comes with every new play and that is the feeling of being very grateful to have a job (as an actor, that’s generally the case – but in the current economic climate, its a sentiment many can agree with, I’m sure…) So I always want to take as full advantage of the opportunity in front of me and do my best to prepare for the monumental task at hand.
I’ve rarely met an actor who doesn’t approach a new text with some form of trepidation and concern. Making a play work is like alchemy…there are so many things involved and so many different people striving to create one singular piece of art made up of so many individual efforts. It’s a lot harder than one can imagine. I feel good about this one…I’ve worked with Stuart Carden (the director) before (both when I was at school with him here in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon and also in Chicago where I now live) and have a tremendous amount of respect for his abilities. It always alleviates some of the anxiety when you know you’re in very capable hands. AND I think the text is fantastic – simple, yet deceptively challenging. So I look forward to jumping into it with everyone involved.
One of the things I do before first rehearsal is just sit with the play as much as I can. I go to a coffee shop and I read it and re-read it (oddly, working at home is difficult for me – I find that being in a public place allows my mind to wander in a productive way – latching onto various people’s walks and tics and rhythms can sometimes give tremendous insight into the people on the page in front of you…just simply observing human behavior is one of the joys of being an actor) Sometimes I do nothing but soak the play in – I try not to “work” on it, but rather let it work on me. Sounds a little “hippy trippy” I know, but that’s the best way I can describe it. I let the images of the words start to play on my imagination. I ask questions about the world of the play for me to answer (immediately…or eventually…or perhaps, never) and I just try to figure out who these people are that are having these experiences…AND who are the people that use these specific words to convey and understand those experiences.
With historical plays I always like to do a good deal of research on the historical context of the play. MARY’S WEDDING is set in Canada before and after WWI. So I’ve been checking in on that world – looking for films and books and poetry and letters and music from the time to get a sense of the emotional landscape.
For me, creating a character is a bit like solving a mystery – there are all these clues in the text as to who this person is and its the job of the actor to seek them out, analyze them and put your findings to use in fleshing this person out. So, that said, I’m going to go bury my head in the script and see what I can find out. We’ve got a few weeks to go before first rehearsal – but it never feels like enough time.
I’m really looking forward to this journey…it should be a good one.