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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

January 13, 2009

Creating the Characters of John Arable and Uncle the Pig by Resident Actor Andy McCain

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:41 pm

Having previously done Charlotte’s Web, in 2005, portraying the role of Templeton, I was very familiar with all of the characters and the flow of the story. The new challenging and fun task now was evolving two different characters: John Arable (Fern’s Father) and Uncle the Pig. I looked into Michael Shurleff’s book, Audition, which offers these wonderful guideposts of developing a character thoroughly. I was introduced to his book in college and I’ve been using the guideposts ever since.

Shurtleff has 12 guideposts he recommends an actor to concentrate on when in the development process of their character. I reviewed all twelve, but placed a greater focus on three of them specifically that work well, especially in children’s theatre. In creating Uncle the Pig, I knew he would physically carry himself across as macho and narcissistic. However, I thought a lot about how he uses his voice to really disgust everyone he meets, mainly Charlotte. Therefore, bringing out the egotistical, male chauvinistic side of me was going to be an interesting feat to pull off. With John Arable, the relationship he has to Fern, Avery, Homer and the rest of the Zuckerman animals truly highlights his persona and honesty. During the rehearsal process our director, Marybeth Clark, urged us to find new things in each run of the show. Shurtleff refers to this as making discoveries, creating moments that happen for the very first time on stage and staying true to those moments. Finally, absorbing the mystery within the play, which for the character of John Arable is an exciting idea to explore. In addition, mystery/magic showcases one of the many themes in Charlotte’s Web. The rehearsal process has been a joy; working with my fellow resident actors and the kids has been a blast and truly reminds me why children’s theatre is such a wonder to watch. 

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