I’m in the back yard, sucking down life-giving beverages as Bertie Wooster might say, and learning Valeria’s lines for Coriolanus. I love Valeria. She’s a total butterfly.
There are several challenges to her, however. One is the fact that she precedes nearly every line with a silly oath: “O’ my word,” “O’ my troth,” “Indeed, la,” “Verily,” and on and on. It’s never the same twice. Since she’s in prose and not iambic pentameter, I don’t suppose it matters which one I use when.
The more interesting thing I’ve observed as I’ve walked to and fro about the labyrinth between sips of my vodka and tonic is how inflections will creep into my delivery which are absolutely right and absolutely hysterical. I stop to try to analyze the emotional/social impulse which caused that delivery, and while it may be blameable on the vodka tonics but is more likely to be attributable to my general inability to define emotional impulses, I find those impulses to be very slippery. Mostly what I find myself thinking about is the craft of acting.
These inflections are subtle and comically apt, and I can’t think that I would be able to hit them by musing ahead of time on the social impulses that created them. Instead, I think it comes of observing people and knowing the kind of person Valeria is and linking her to similar people I’ve seen, either in life or in performance. And in either case, the lady in question is still “performing,” so her delivery is always a bit arch, a bit “on.” So the social impulse I find myself following most often in her speech is “society performer.”
I don’t think that’s bad acting, either, actually. If the vocalization feels right, then, like Larry Olivier, I can develop the physical stance and the inner life to match. Outside in. If it works, use it.