I played the part of Clov in the original production, and here I am back again. But that's not quite accurate. I'm not back being Clov in Endgame, its more like I've moved forward to meet what will be a new Clov.
I am approaching the piece afresh. Yes new director, and yes new actor playing opposite me as Hamm, but predominantly because I am a different actor than I was when I first did it.
In the intervening time two important experiences have moulded me into that different actor.
Firstly playing the role of Henry V in Shakespeare's epic drama last year: it gave me a new insight into what drives people to do what they do, and into the notion of 'honour' as a motivator, something I now clearly recognise as crucially important to Clov.
And secondly, I have been exploring ideas of 'resilience' within some of the drama workshops I've been running with groups, particularly work I did earlier this year with teachers in Iraq. Clearly both Clov and Hamm are immensely resilient, my recent experiences have challenged what it might mean to play a character who is personally resilient, who exists in very difficult circumstances. Food for thought, much to chew on and chew over.
To quote Mark Rylance: “...when rehearsing...talking about how you’re going to do something can be helpful, it can also build up a big expectation about how it must be. Sometimes what the scene actually is can be repressed by that expectation (which has come from your mind) of how it should be. I find that playing when I’m working spontaneously with the other actors is a more fruitful way of finding out what to do. I like to play, even when I don’t know what I’m doing, and find out by making mistakes...”
Yes, and...I've been thinking/talking about the character of Clov. I am on the 'autistic spectrum' and am at the moment entertaining the idea that the more I read Clov's lines the more I believe he is too. This helps make sense of some of his poignant yet obvious answers to Hamm (sometimes he has an almost child-like logic) and his desire for 'order'. Of course this is dangerous thinking and could build up a "big expectation about how it must be". My challenge is to have a light touch on those thoughts and not to grip onto them too tightly. We'll discover more in the doing, and the playing.
We start our rehearsals next week, I'm looking forward to meeting and getting to know this new Clov.