We have opened our Fourth-Year rep cycle: Mother Courage and Her Children, Queens, and Red Speedo.
I am playing the title role in Mother Courage and Her Children and this is no easy feat. I am in all the scenes (except for one), I am onstage the entire time, I have 90 percent of the lines in the play and have eight songs.
I consider this an incredible gift and opportunity and I have no complaints. This is, however, the biggest artistic responsibility that I’ve ever received in this program, and it has made me revisit and apply all I have learned from the past three and half years of training.
- Start preparing early – We got our casting assignments last June. As soon as the script of Mother Courage and Her Children was available, I requested a copy and began reading it over the summer. I also coordinated with our music director, composition master's student Matthew Liu, regarding the songs very early in the school year. By the time we had our first reading, on December 12—two days after Into the Woods closed — I had already read Mother Courage and Her Children at least five times. On top of that, I had already done my homework of outlining the given circumstances and scene objectives of each scene as well as my preliminary research on the world of the play. In our two-week winter break, I spent the first week resting and recuperating from Into the Woods and my first-semester journey, and then spent the second (and last) week drilling all the songs and getting off-book. When we started rehearsals on January 7, I was already off-book for half of the play. By the second week of rehearsals, I was already off-book for the entire play —and as I'd mentioned, I have 90 percent of the lines.
- Build a foundation instead of a result – Someone from the artistic team of Into the Woods told me during the opening night party that I clearly have my own process as an actress. She said that she noticed that I took the time to think things through and to build a foundation for a character instead of being result-oriented. In the end, I get something that is alive. I truly appreciated what she said to me and I made sure I took that forward in my work as Mother Courage. I made sure I understood what her (Mother Courage's) circumstances are, and how deeply and fiercely she loved her children, as well as her indomitable will to survive. I began from that place and allowed myself to grow in each rehearsal day.
- Communicate well with top collaborators – Toward the middle of the second week of our winter break, we learned that the original director of Mother Courage and Her Children, Moni Yakim, had gall bladder problems and that he would need to step out of the production. They announced a new director, Richard Hamburger, to take Moni’s place. We all loved Moni and I was devastated at the news. However, I decided to take responsibility and reach out to Richard Hamburger right away. The future then seemed full of uncertainty but I wanted to build rapport right away and make it work. Richard and I had our first conversation about the play and the role via Skype two days before we resumed rehearsals, on January 7. Since then, we have been close collaborators together with Richard’s wife, Melissa Cooper, who served as dramaturg of the production. Richard, Melissa, Matthew Liu, and the stage management team of Mother Courage have been excellent collaborators. I feel incredibly lucky to have them with me in this journey.
We have three more shows left this week. I hope that we will only continue to grow.
All photos were taken by Mother Courage and Her Children Music Director, Matthew Liu.
Regina De Vera
Quezon City, Philippines