As we are getting ready to open Richard III and The Merry Wives of Windsor, we had the chance to interview Aaron Alderman on his experiences playing both Richard and Falstaff.
What drew you to playing Richard and Falstaff?
The short answer: I was asked. The more honest answer is that I first agreed to play Richard. When given the opportunity to play one of the greatest written roles with a company that I love and respect, very few things could compel me to say no. Falstaff was a role I’d preformed before and thoroughly enjoyed, and I was excited at the opportunity to play again.
What are the similarities between Richard and Falstaff?
The similarities are few but ones I find intriguing. There are two notable answers. They’re both men who have survived massive wars, and they are both men of notably unusual physicality.
What are the differences?
While there are many differences, the most notable are how they deal with their commonalities.
Richard thrived in war, Falstaff got through it. Richard cannot bear to be bored and left alone with himself, so much so that he murders enemies and friends to take over his kingdom. Falstaff would just as soon goof around and have the rest of his life be nothing but weekend partying followed by a lazy Sunday.
Richard is full of self loathing, and he has been told his whole life that he is disgusting and he despises the world for it, with a special destain for women. Falstaff is called or alluded to as fat at every given opportunity and he still thinks he’s God’s gift to the human race. He truly believes all women want him and all men want to be him (they just don’t know it yet).
How has playing both of these characters in repertory stretched you as an actor?
Goodness, I mean there’s the simple weight of the amount of text itself that’s difficult. The real challenge I find is the switch between characters. I likened it recently to the sport of Chess Boxing, where you box and play chess alternating at 5 minute intervals. The whole point being to physically engage, while keeping your mind lucid and alert, and conversely to engage your mind heavily without deactivating your body to let it cool… so yeah… it’s a bit like that.
Why should people see Richard III and The Merry Wives of Windsor?
These shows are very different experiences, and each one on their own will be a fun and magical engagement. However, combined, they are like coffee and cream and will leave, I believe, a happily satiated audience.
Get your tickets to see these plays in action at sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets.