I am currently researching for a film role that I am about to start work on. In the film I play the female lead, Rita, a ghost from the 1970s.
The first thing I wanted to do was understand the world from which Rita originated. So I did a bit of research on the 1970s which included watching this BBC documentary:
The hardest thing for me to do as a performer is to un-remember a world where thai food, selfies and flat screen TVs are the norm. All these things are new to Rita and therefore have to be a discovery for me when I am playing her. I envisage Rita to be a fairly quiet character, she lives a lonely life in a small town, she would have been aware of the politics but not heavily engaged, however, the political/financial backdrop is important to understand.
The 1970s were a time of great austerity and unrest. There was a financial crisis, blackouts, the rise of the IRA, increasing conflict in the Middle East and the realisation that the post war growth was not going to be sustainable. Rita would have kept her head down and got on with her life in a way that was simple and fairly self contained. She would probably have watched The Good Life on the television and may have followed their example and grown a few of her own vegetables. The Wombles were created they aim to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways. A far cry from our world of 4 dustbins for different types of recycling.
Clothing always plays a major role for me when I develop a character. During the test shoot, the director and I purchased some appropriately brown and polyester attire. The clothing was bought from a vintage shop in Winchester where we spent hours trying on different combinations of colours/sizes/styles, all originating from the 1970’s. The character is a small town character who is fairly grounded but lonely. She is not flamboyant and carries an old fashioned air, particularly when placed in the modern era. Hence the neutral colours and the browns and creams that are evocative of the 1970s. The picture from the test shoot shows a sneak peek of the costume for Rita (ignoring my nails which are more apt for 2012!).
For those who are interested in vintage clothing there is a short documentary about the store from which the costumes were purchased:
Now I just need to learn my lines!