Last week I had the opportunity to see my mentor, Roxanne Fay, perform in Jobsite’s production of Henry V. It was my first venture outside after more than a year of staying at home, and I can’t think of a better way to return to social, public life.
During our previous meetings, when she was doing rehearsals, we had talked a little bit about the play and her parts in it, as well as how she navigated being in a production with actors who worked at different paces and with different levels of experience. When I finally got to see the play, it all appeared seamless to me. It is a difficult play with lots of speaking parts, which meant that many of the actors, including Roxanne, had multiple performances. I was totally enthralled, and I especially marveled at the way she so seamlessly moved from playing Ancient Pistol, a commoner from London who serves in the war with Henry, to the Archbishop of Canterbury to Alice, maid to French princess Catherine, a part that required her to speak mostly in French.
I had to know more about how she achieved this so seamlessly, so I asked her a bunch of questions during our meeting yesterday. She told me she had actually mapped out all her work for the entirety of the play, and that she kept that map backstage during the time she worked on it, but never actually had to consult it during performances. We talked about how she inhabited these characters (speaking French helped her to get in to Alice, while costuming helped her a lot with Pistol), when she felt the whole thing was clicking (about the second week of rehearsals), and what she’s up to next (she won’t be acting at Jobsite anymore this year, but will direct their production of Dr. Ride’s American Beach House later this year).
It is so absolutely inspiring to see someone in their element, doing what they love and have worked so hard for and doing it well, especially if you’ve gotten to know that person in a different arena. This was, without question, one of the best experiences of my year as an emerging artist grantee.