Happy Thursday! Welcome back to Acting Class Daily. Today we’re personalizing the work with a themed knicknack from this week’s class, a formative moment of magic … and, most importantly, Bauer’s chance to say hello.
Henry Woronicz (Utah Shakespeare Festival, 2003)
When I think back to moments that have inspired my most treasured puzzle pieces, one of my favorites was the first rehearsal of Richard III at Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Henry Woronicz was cast as Richard, and he showed up to our table-read with quite the reputation. He was the former Artistic Director of Ashland (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and spoken of as a huge talent, consulate professional, and really fun castmate.
Henry came to play, we were warned.
As a young, “non-equity” actor I was excited to see what he’d bring to the role. How he’d go about his business.
Henry showed up to the table-read almost completely off-book. More than that … he sat there as Richard unencumbered by the (feeble) scripts people around him couldn’t leave behind. It’s as if he saw through Richard’s eyes during that whole read, sneering at our unworthiness.
In every blocking rehearsal after that his script was off to the side, ready to be picked up and noted when given direction. But in the moment, he was always free. The lines lived in him.
I wanted that.
I watched as he experienced and absorbed the world around him. If someone had a thought … he tasted all of it. He heard it all. Felt it all. Toyed with it all.
Nothing was in his way.
From that show on I made it my personal mission to always show up completely off-book. Especially for the table read. Anyone who’s worked with me recognizes this puzzle piece.
Maybe they thought it was because I have an easy time learning lines.
It was Henry.
A moment of magic in rehearsal pointing me towards who I wanted to be when I grew up.
It gave me the direction to roar. And now I get to know a bit of the best of myself, today.