We held back a few of the questions we put to Jessie for you! If you haven’t read Part 1 of this interview do check it out to hear Jessie’s thoughts on movement, Shakespeare & the company’s development (click here for Part 1). If you’re up to date then read on for some more of her musings:
What advice would you give someone auditioning for a Shakespearean role?
Don’t panic! Take it slow and give your mind time to breath between rehearsing. I find that helps with memorising the lines correctly word for word. With everyone knowing his works so well, you don’t want to be the actor who said …To Be, or To Be not…
How would you now attack a Shakespeare speech?
I think the first read through of a speech is really important. As I said before I would take my time with it and begin annotating right from the get go; circling parts to come back to and annotating with images, meanings and synonyms for words. This really helps you to feel as though you’ve already gotten somewhere positive with a speech before you’ve even started having to look up words or begin learning it.
What have you enjoyed most about working on Entita’s current show Curtain’d Sleep?
The approach that we used to generate material when creating Curtain’d Sleep was refreshing and diverse from how the company had worked before. For example the directors would give us a chunk of speech and we as performers had the freedom to generate our own material amalgamating spoken verse and physical storytelling. This gave the performance a very personal quality and I think that created a bond between us all – with it being an all female cast – as to the journey we were developing. The energy was palpable.
Do you now see Ophelia, the character you portray, in a different light?
Absolutely! Working on Ophelia for Curtain’d Sleep has been really enlightening as both myself and Katharine Hardman play her but by looking at different parts of the text or her relationships to other characters, our two portrayals have become quite different. To describe this simply Kat’s Ophelia focuses on family relationships and has developed a strong and almost tomboy quality. My version of Ophelia looks into her relationship with Hamlet and has a light, perhaps naive quality. We’re also different through (spoiler alert!) one of us choosing to die and the other dying by accident, and this difference is quite subtle but very specific. We’ve been able to create complexities within a character who can sometimes otherwise be perceived as weak. She is beautiful yet unpredictable, strong yet unstable, loving yet unloved.
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With Entita, Jessie Jane Knowles has appeared in Fall to the Top (2012), Turbulence (2013), Method in Madness (2014-16) and Curtain’d Sleep (2016-17). She has also appeared in several short films, including Weak Execution by Samuel Lawrence.
Jessie was interviewed by Katharine Hardman for this blog.