In the first of our character exposés, first year James talks through his experience of the rehearsal process, building an abstract yet very real character to inhabit.
I’m James and I will be playing the part of Man. This is the second production I have been a part of since starting at Oxford. Last term I was involved in Bang Bang You’re Dead, which introduced me to the very unique drama scene at Oxford. As part of an ensemble cast, it was a very different experience to this two-hander, Tender Napalm.
In Ridley’s play I am opposite Hannah, who plays the part of Woman. Our relationship is bound by love but over the course of the play this is inevitably strained. We constantly battle for attention, and the idea of a shared experience is needed in order to bring us closer together. My character is very emotionally aware and this can be used to draw Woman back to him. Whilst Man’s feelings often translate into violent outbursts, an unwavering love for Woman underpins his every thought and action.
Rehearsals really got underway at the start of this term. It has been such an immersive experience as we began by building a character and a life behind the “man”, before engaging with the script later on. I found this approach helped me in forming a real character which I could then inhabit. The ability to walk away from a character when rehearsals have finished has been so helpful, as there are some parts of the play which have the potential to inflict some real emotional damage. My favourite moment in the play has to be Man and Woman’s first meeting. It’s such a beautiful encounter which is at the root of all the action in the play. It is a very sweet scene but nothing extraordinary; it is only by the end of the play that you realise how significant it is in shaping both their lives.
I’m really excited about this play as there are so many underlying emotions which float over and under the text. Fundamentally it is a study of a very real relationship and I think this is why people should come and see it. Whilst the pair’s discussion will drift into abstract realms, their relationship struggles are often tied down by universal themes.
by Philip Ridley
at the Michael Pilch Studio
Tickets available here