This week, I'm starting another new feature called "How I Work." I'm fascinated by how artists approach their work and would like to learn more so I've asked some of the people I've interviewed to talk about their creative process.
First up is Corrie Eddleman, who I interviewed last May. Corrie Eddleman is Assistant Professor of Acting at North Greenville University. She holds a BS in Theatre and Speech Communication from Hannibal LaGrange College and an MFA degree in Acting from Illinois State University. Corrie will begin her training as a Certified Alexander Teacher this summer and hopes to complete the program in 2012. A member of Actor’s Equity since 1999, she has worked professionally in New York, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois and Texas. Most recently she was seen as Kate in Taming of the Shrew and Tamora in Titus Andronicus at The Illinois Shakespeare Festival in 2008. Corrie has also had the privilege to study acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company (Stratford, England), The National Theatre Institute and the Chautauqua Theatre Conservatory. In addition to teaching, acting and directing on campus she directs the Act Two traveling Drama Ministry Team. She is married to Matthew, a hospice chaplain with Spartanburg Regional.
LeAnne: Describe your creative process. How do you work?
Corrie: I always start at the beginning… with the script. First I read for pleasure and to comprehend the story line. Then I will read through the script multiple times, looking for how my character helps move the plot forward, acquiring character clues, and acquiring clues about the world of the play.
Throughout these multiple readings I will also begin my research. I look up the meaning of words, research costumes, music, art, political climate… anything that might be helpful for me to visualize a fully developed world. After I feel like I have a grasp on the world of the play, then I will start digging into the details of my character.
From the character clues, left to me by the playwright, I will play around physically and vocally. How does my character hold herself? How does my character speak? How does my character laugh? Etcetera, Etcetera. This exploration is the most exciting part of the process for me. This is the time I turn off my edit button and just say “yes” to my instinct. I must turn off my head and allow the character to show herself through my movement and through my voice.
I will then walk myself through the five senses. I decide what my character’s favorite sight, sound, smell, touch & taste is and I keep those items in my dressing room for inspiration. Being a visual person, I have this need to put up inspirational pictures of the world of the play and my character around my make-up station.
Lastly and most importantly, I listen to my scene partners. I could develop a very intriguing character but if she doesn’t listen and genuinely interact with her world then all of my work would be in vain and I would have failed the playwright.
This whole process is my ideal way of working, but very rarely do all of these elements fit into a nice neat box. I have to allow flexibility in my creative process so that I stay open to what the Director wants, what the play is calling for, what my cast mates are calling for, and of course the ever practical time restraints. I’m always open and looking for new ways to approach a character.