The Dark Side of Love: Dealing with emotion in Shakespeare

Continuing our The Dark Side of Love blog series is cast member Rosy Morris, who talks about accessing emotion in Shakespeare’s work.

When we first started devising The Dark Side of Love at the Roundhouse we were sent into a whirlwind of emotion – for me it was love, a raw one. Having just split up with my boyfriend was at the core of my reasons for wanting to take part in the project. Welcome to the universal world of Shakespeare and his on ongoing relevance in people’s lives.

The beginning of the process was all about opening up, telling our own stories of love and loss. Not all of us had been in love, however everyone has obviously experienced love of some sort whether it be a lover, friend or a family member.

However, the theme of loss seemed to be much more provoking. It seemed the older cast members had lost a lover – myself being one of them – but the interesting point here was that when we relate our own stories back to Shakespeare’s, he understood humankind perfectly. He was able to grasp the subtleties of people through language. It was here I realised I related most to Ophelia from Hamlet. She is rejected without knowing why. A common question I think a lot of women have – both young and old – is why men in particular have such a tendency to reject with such ambiguity. Why all the secrets? Why does society repeat itself with the insistence on hiding the reasons behind our dismissive actions? Does one who is rejected not deserve the respect and right to know why they have lost this relationship?

But, moving on from the dark side of love and onto a jolly subject: death. When our Brazilian director Renato Rocha asked us to imagine a freshly dead person, we all had to delve deep into our imaginations. He was quietly shocked by this, explaining that he had experienced people being shot in the streets on a regular basis. I guess this is one way London life protects us from reality; police arrive almost instantly on the scene of a crime and clean it all up. It seems that Brazil’s knowledge of death shares similarities with that of Shakespeare’s time. He wanted us to improvise a scene of death, bringing objects into the space relating to them, asking ourselves what they meant, why we were using them and what their significance was. By doing this we created a montage of thought-provoking images allowing us to think further about the significance of death and what it means to different people.

Further into the devising process, we worked on acting on instinct, which for most of us was an initial struggle especially when doing so in front of an audience – as performers our initial reactions were to ‘act’ our responses to our surroundings. Removing ourselves from this was a great relief once we got the hang of it and allowed us to use it as a tool further on, whether that meant it simply helped us relate to our characters or even just playing around with our speeches.

Overall, the last 10 months have taught us all so much about how to create and devise your own piece of theatre. By interpreting the great Bard’s work one can see that his stories are so universal that even when you do play around with them a lot of the ideas from the original plays are still highly distinguishable. And if you ever find yourself questioning why Shakespeare still lives on today, all you need do is look around, because he’s in everything and everyone.

The Dark Side of Love will be staged at the Roundhouse 26 June – 8 July. Commissioned by the Roundhouse and LIFT, it forms part of the World Shakespeare Festival.

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