Wednesday, 13 August 2003

Lindy Davies on directing As You Like It. Aug 13, 2003

Interview with Lindy Davies 
About her direction of As You Like It for Bell Shakespeare
by Kate Herbert
August 13, 2003

Even by phone, Lindy Davies  is a powerful, knowledgeable presence. In person, she is formidable and magnetic.

Davies is profoundly committed to the art of the actor. As director of Shakespeare's  As You Like It,  for Bell Shakespeare,  she can apply her process with actors who have never worked in her way.

The process is a way to penetrate the meaning of a play. Shakespeare's language provides a great challenge.

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays because, says Davies, "It is simply about falling in love... it is beautifully funny and engaging. We identify with and laugh at human frailty."

She has not made the play consciously modern but says the play is relevant to a modern audience because it is about people being "forced to leave a society that is repressive."

A feisty young woman, Rosalind, falls in love with the shy Orlando, falls in love with the shy Orlando,  who is denied his inheritance by a jealous brother and then banished.

 Rosalind is also banished from her tyrannical uncle's court. She escapes to the magical Forest of Arden  to seek her banished father.

"People escape a tyranny where people do not have the right to speak and go into a forest where they do.  It is a play about moral courage," says Davies.

The play, she continues, "embraces paradox and complexity rather than hanging on to polarity" and deals with "the notion of reconciliation."

Davies now teaches her directing process to actors as Dean of the School of Drama, Victoria College of the Arts. Acting might seem esoteric so let us peek into Davies ' rehearsal process. A typical day begins with extensive time on voice, "To make the language alive with a strong and supported voice."

Davies uses the physical training of Moshe Feldenkreis which " enables people to get in touch subtly with pathways in the body." Her work is 'kinaesthetically based" meaning the voice is connected to the rest of the body.

She may begin with a warm up using bamboo poles, walking meditation concentrating on breathing or a Japanese ritual of washing the floor.

These activities, before working with language are, says Davies, "related to becoming centred and clear so you can work in the space in a way where you can leave the world behind you and be open and available and become someone else."

Davies defines the term 'centring' as, "How you're feeling when you're cooking well… playing football…riding a bike…There's a flow about the body."

"It is about being in the centre of any action that you are doing while feeling strongly present and connected to what you are doin….you lose a sense of time."

With her process, "The most challenging thing for actors is you have to give up control." She wants actors not to decide how to say lines but to "find out how to be changed by the language, to discover the world of the play."

To help us understand she suggests, " Think about the very first time you said 'I love you' to a lover. The whole process is to find the pathway to find the way to say that. "

Language is so powerful," she says. "It immediately takes you into the world of the play." And Shakespeare's language is some of the most potent of all time.

As You like It, directed by Lindy Davies for Bell Shakespeare opens in Melbourne at the Playhouse Theatre on August 12

By Kate Herbert

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