I awoke the morning of Friday, April 25th to rain. Sheets of late, overdue rain which our earth and reservoirs are sorely thirsting for. This is also the day of our ﬁrst full cast rehearsal on-site at Fort Point. And so, in addition to packing the regular warm layers – hat, scarf and gloves necessary for a day at the Fort – I grabbed my waterproof boots and rain jacket as well. We Players embraces the unpredictable power of the elements, and work with equal vigor in the easeful sunshine or in the rain and cold.
Our group gathers just before the rangers open the gates to the fortress at 10am. We ﬁle in and mount the three ﬂights of stairs to our green room, where we circle and check-in with each other, reviewing basic rules of working at an NPS site, as well as where props and costumes live, where We Players famous snack bin will be kept, and who among us are trained as ﬁrst responders. Physical safety is a serious consideration for us, as we work in potentially hazardous environments and our work is athletic and physically embedded into the space. At Fort Point our main concerns are the slippery stairs and stones, which are very nearly always wet, thanks to the fog that condenses there daily, as well as the unlit corridors and shadowy corners we must navigate, sometimes while moving quite quickly.
We return to the Parade Ground to begin our walk-through of the performance route. Along the way, we identify our hidden storage locations, the pathways actors may take secretly during performance and primarily, mark the route the audience takes through the journey of the play. We gather again in the dark northwest corner of the third ﬂoor, a shaft of light ﬁlters in through the narrow window speckled with red lichen. We move through a series of exercises intended to help us awaken our senses (particularly beyond the dominant sense of sight), and to connect physically and energetically with the fortress. We move slowly at ﬁrst, and without words. Eventually, character personalities begin to emerge, as do dissected lines of text. We explore, still mostly without words, how we interact with each other, with the multitude of sharp right angles, and with the negative spaces.
We take particular note of the lack of feminine energy in the structure itself – the cold, the thick, the sharp, the angular, the imposing, the powerful fortress of brick and stone lines. And yet, Nature persists. She creeps in through the cracks and pours into the open mouth of the fortress from above. The rain pools in the corners of the Parade Ground and the wind describes subtle and softly shifting patterns on the surface of these pools. The intensely bright green, orange and silver lichens grow profusely on the brick walls and form soft clusters of gentle but tenacious life.
We emerge dusted with red powder from the brick and share what we collected. In a way, this kind of sense work is very simple. But by taking the time to engage in this way, not driven by intellect or idea (or worse, concept), we begin to discover our characters. A process more of rooting, tracking and revealing that deciding and inventing.
“And with the upward rise, and with the vastness grow…”
-Ava Roy, Co-director of Macbeth at Fort Point 2014