A morning at home today with 5 hours of completely focussed solo work and headspace to consolidate everything we’ve done so far, and unpick Vermandera in even greater detail. Feels like I am entering the phase where I am beginning to absorb her - looking at all this evidence and holistically starting to form a broad sense of this phenomenal matriarch. Her character, her essence, how she ticks, her predicamants, the opportunities she seizes. It's that transition phase where the detail starts to give the high level signposts, which then point you to even greater granularity. It was five hours well spent at the peace and quiet of my kitchen table (the kids are FINALLY back at school!!) - some time to just think it all through. Heaven. And then a great afternoon of text work. I then swung by Foyles on my way home to investigate other versions of the text and materials that might be of use - I’m reading The House of Bernarda Alba as part of my character prep which is proving really helpful in terms of understanding the context of patriarchy, matriarchy and societal norms and expectations governing female behaviour. Shocking to think that the Spanish Penal Code of 1870 - which allowed a husband to ‘cleanse his honour with blood” should his wife commit adultery or his daughter or wife be raped - was only repealed in 1963. Yes, you read that correctly in 1963. The year of the code - 1870 - is obviously after this play but it evidences what the culture must have been like in the period leading up to that….horrific. But certainly helps us to understand what was at stake for some of these characters. I think one of the things I love so much about my work as an actor is precisely this constant process of learning, the reading, the exploration - every character, every play brings with it a huge opportunity to acquire knowledge, to learn. Lucky.
Emma Wilkinson Wright (Vermandera)