Cast connection, among many other factors, is a key element to a successful show. But what exactly is cast connection? Is it the friendships actors create during rehearsals, or their collaboration to portray meaningful characters? Maybe it is simply being in the same room as castmates.
When third-year theatre and drama studies (TDS) students Devin McEachern and Sydney Scott were asked about their takes on cast connection, this concept did not seem to have a singular definition.
“Creating a show is a difficult process,” McEachern said. “So many things can go in so many different directions. It is nice to know that the people you are working with are as invested as you are, work hard, and [take the show] seriously. You need a group that believes in this camaraderie and solidarity.”
While TDS students are often fortunate to have friendships established before rehearsals, it is not always like this. Scott reflected on a time in high school where she was a new cast member in an established cast. She said that there was a particular “energy in the room” when walking into a rehearsal space—one that impeded the collaboration required to put together a successful show.
To connect with a cast, McEachern added that “part of it is just luck. There is an old saying that goes, ‘you can be the juiciest peach in the world, but some people just don’t like peaches.’” Additionally, he noted that “you never know who you’re going to work with, but the most important thing is to be proud of the work that you bring to the table.”
Another key element to creating the world of a play is the formation of characters. Often, character embodiment is thought of as a fundamentally individual process—one that allows for personal reflection and research. However, this is not always the case as cooperation can still play a part in bringing the characters to life.
“Character embodiment is very specific depending on the show that you are working on,” Scott said. “[Certain adaptations] only work if every single character makes the same bold choices. A lot of the time, character embodiment is very personal, but for [some shows] it is very collective.”
To help with character development, actors also practice grounding, connecting with themselves, and centring their awareness.
“Grounding is the way that acting has become sustainable,” Scott continued. “You make sure to find a presence with yourself, the earth, with your castmates, and you remember that the characters’ experiences are not your own.”
Cast connection tied with character embodiment and grounding help create Theatre Erindale’s memorable performances. McEachern reminded us that there is much excitement for the opening of Theatre Erindale’s annual season with If We Were Birds, which runs from October 28 to November 7. You can purchase tickets for the virtual staging of the show at tickets.sheridancollege.ca. Don’t miss your chance to see Theatre Erindale’s first show back inside the theatre.