Scott Wentworth at Stratford 2000
Stratford July 15, 2000 2000 Lindy Cooksey

Meet the Festival
14 July, 2000

Here's the transcript of some notes that I took during the Meet the Festival session Scott Wentworth and Seanna McKenna did on July 14, 2000 during the Stratford Festival. There may be a few comments from Seanna here and there, but these are mainly Scott's answers. The lack of comments from Seana is not due to the focus of the session being more on Scott, just the focus of my notes. Most of the comments are not shown as direct quotes, since they do not allow the sessions to be taped. These are from my memory and what notes I was able to scribble down.

The session took place with the stage set up for "Collected Stories". For those of you used to the austere look of most of the plays in the Tom Patterson Theatre, this looked more like what you'd see in the Avon... a full furnished set with a living room, kitchen and office areas.

Scott was wearing jeans, a blue shirt, charcoal grey jacket and tennies. He comes on stage, turns a somersault, and sits on the couch.

First question was about whether they superstitious or not, since Scott and Seanna had both done the Scottish play.
Scott said "not", but he got up, turned around a couple of times and moved to the kitchen area so his back wouldn't be to any of the audience. He continued that it's "too byzantine" not to call a play by it's title. But admitted to seeing some bad accidents with it.

A question about acting at Stratford as opposed to other venues (specifically Broadway) and a comparison of stages
Seanna said it's more classic focused at Stratford, but good actors and directors are there. All the theatres are similar, but she doesn't like the Avon.
Scott said the Avon is a long theatre; back is so far. Patterson is intimate; they all dress in the same room. After a laugh, he clarified that the men and women are separate.
It's a luxury at Stratford that it runs as long as it does. They can explore depth. Popular, long-running shows don't have the depth.

When asked about how casting is done and the audition process, Scott replied it's "something to do with the entrails of a bird"

Next question was what do they do in their spare time.
Seanna said she has a 2 1/2 year old, and Scott said he has a 5 year old.

What makes an actor great from another actor's point of view (using Brent Carver as an example)?
Seanna: "You think he's great? If they affect you, bring you into their world. Seeing them look like they haven't done anything, when they've put in so much work."
Scott: "Best actors are ones who get out there and play." Then made some comment about dangerousness and trust. They use variation but within the framework of the play.

Next question was about working with familiar and unfamiliar co-stars.
Scott: the whole action of the rehearsal porcess is about creation of family. Somtimes familiarity is the crucible of the craft. "loose affiliation of like-minded individuals". enriches relationships. familiarity can breed the wrong kind of ease. People who've worked together don't always see things the same.
Seana: You work together and survive different views. Keep working together and making choices. Working with familiar actors, you can go further faster, because you already know them.

And the question that comes up *every* session: How do you remember all those lines?
Seana: They're in the costume. She (Medea) has big sleeves.
Scott: That's the easiest part. His head got a little fried doing three at once. "When you walk on stage, you have the set, and the characters don't live in each other's world." He did admit to calling Marion Day "Olivia" instead of "Lavinia" in Titus during one performance.

How does a play change when they live with the play for months?
Seana said things have shifted already. The audience affects the performance; the previous night had less laughter.
Scott: Architecture of space doesn't let you forget the audience is there. Over "six months, immense changes take place. They have to make sure there's room for the actors to grow without destroying the role. Short runs can dazzle; long runs come back to the actors."

These are some comments from Scott on the process of Elizabeth Rex:
--Unique. A new play, and that's not normally here, and to have the playwright here was exciting.
--"And who's the other actor in with me?" (is usually asked about a new play). Most new plays are small (casts). To do a new play with that many characters is thrilling.
--all hang out on stage. Spent time in the room with all those people.
--Martha (Henry): "invisible directing"
--Actors playground. All on set at once. How to react without drawing focus.
--fun, empowering
--new play, like a baby. They're protective, there's no history; it's a different kind of responsiblity.
And the moderator asked if we thought it was safe to say Scott enjoyed it?

What's the process for getting into and out of character?
Scott to Seana: "You better start."
Seana: Hopefully, you've done enough rehearsal to trust the character is there. Now, she just tries to empty herself -- just be a vessel. At the end, it just goes away.
Scott: Character takes over the subconscious more in rehearsal. In the play, they hve structure. In rehearsal, they invade dreams. By the time it opens, they are formed, all actors have to worry about is telling the story.
Classical is more of a physical thing, constantly moving. On a modern set, there are 8,000 places to sit. In Shakespeare, they sit on the ground and make a speech about it. Classical is physically draining.
Seana: Draining. And poetic. Tennessee Williams is similar (to classic rather than modern, I think was the idea).

On doing the same role again. Does having other actors in roles change you also?
Seana: Yeah, changes a lot. If it's a good play.
Scott: Certain plays -- roles -- once you've done them, they're done. Unless your life changes. 19th century actors spent a career essentially looking at 4 or 5 roles.
(Re: Macbeth) Could have gone back into rehearsals and examined it again. Lean about the play, character, human condition.
Seana: Can be more exhilarating the 2nd time around. You're willing to go further.
Scott: Actor empowering. Some directors would rather direct a new production instead of having the baggage of doing the role previously.

Final question was wanting to know about funny things on stage, bloopers.
Scott: Misquote is fun in retrospect. At the time, it's terrifying. All ears perk up.

And that's all I have. Hope you liked it!

Lindy

2000 Please me your comments! - Lindy


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