Mama Mayhem

The madness to my method

By Ivy Jensen

WHEN the late Heath Ledger prepared for his greatest role as The Joker in The Dark Knight, he went to extreme lengths to become the terrifying character.

Apparently he locked himself in a motel room and his apartment for a month and kept a diary with images and dialogue which helped him get into the mindset to portray one of the greatest villains of all time.

In his Oscar winning performance in Ray, Jamie Foxx wore prosthetic eyelids 15 hours a day while filming.

In Les Miserables, Anne Hathaway shaved her head and lost 11kg to play the prostitute Fantine.

While Rami Malek spent countless hours watching the Live Aid concert and hired movement coaches to nail those famous Freddy Mercury moves in Bohemian Rhapsody.

All actors have different methods for getting into their roles.

Now I may not be anywhere near their league and I am preparing for an amateur theatre company show, not an Oscar-winning role, but that’s not to say I am any less committed.

My self-doubting mind still believes I was given the role of Morticia in The Addams Family by accident, so now I must do everything in my power to do the lead role justice before the directors discover their terrible mistake.

So thankfully while I do not have to dye my hair jet black (thank God for wigs), I have been getting into character in other ways.

And one of the hardest parts of becoming this morbidly macabre matriarch is not smiling.

And when I say that, I mean not smiling with my teeth. Which is something I always do.

Morticia never really smiles; but she has this deadpan wit which comes with a knowing smirk.

Although her gestures are very subdued, she is anything but.

Morticia is fiercely strong and a passionate lover. But it’s her eyes that do the talking. They say eyes are the window to the soul and this is definitely the case for ’Tish.

So imagining channelling all those emotions into just one part of the body. It’s bloody hard.

Especially when I probably have the biggest and loudest laugh I know.

And when I smile, I show all my pearly whites. Because after two years of wearing braces — costing my parents thousands of dollars — I am never hiding my teeth again.

Well, until now. Oh and the time I got my passport photo.

Not realising there was a no-smile rule, I didn’t have time to practise a ‘I’m still happy even though I’m not smiling’ expression so I end up looking drunk, terrified or just angry.

Hence the resting bitch face phenomenon.

Yes, the no-smile rule is proving very difficult.

The director is constantly at me, screeching ‘Don’t smile!’ or ‘No teeth!’.

I have to fight the urge to flash my choppers every time a cast member says or does something funny. Which, in this show, is most of the time.

So I have taken to smirking rather than smiling wherever I go, including work. And while I am getting strange looks and ‘why do you look like the cat that ate the canary?’ or ‘are you flirting with me?’ comments, it’s what you do for theatre. Who knows, it might even get me a date?

Anyhoo, another of Morticia’s idiosyncrasies is her speech pattern.

She has a deep and sultry tone, which has come surprisingly easy to me, but the musical is set in New York, so I also need to master a north-eastern rhotic American accent.

Which is not coming so easy.

And so my sweet-as-pie colleague Charmayne, whose years of home-schooling has seen her mimic her mother’s American accent, has come to the rescue.

She is now teaching me the finer (or not so) art of how to speak like a Yank.

The only other thing left to do is embrace Morticia’s morbid side, so a night spent at the Echuca cemetery could be on the cards.