A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Meg Flinders, our fabulous Charlotte, at one of her training sessions. She has been working hard at learning the aerial silks for the show, so we chatted about this unique experience and how it relates to the show!
Me: What is this training experience like?
Meg: Well, you obviously have to start with the basics. But we move pretty fast, so I just learn something new every time I come in and a lot of it is progression based so it just keeps building on top of each other. I also have to do a lot of outside work on my own to do strength training because this takes a lot of strength because you get tired really fast. Most of it is learning by doing which is actually great because it’s not something you can really do by reading about it. So you just have to go for it and figure it out and hope it works.
Me: What kind of daily things are you doing?
Meg: So a lot of it is arm strength, so I do planks, side planks, push-ups and pulls ups and pull downs, triceps dips and holding a handstand against a wall. Those are the biggest ones I do. Then I do a lot of leg lifts and sit ups and ab work that doesn’t really have to be specific. When you’re up in the air you have to be able to both hold yourself up and be able to lift your legs up into a V or in front of you so it is a lot of core work and arm strength so I do any work that’ll help strengthen those muscles.
Me: Do you feel like this is helping you understand Charlotte more?
Meg: Yeah, in a way it is. And actually it’s interesting because in the play a lot of people forget about Charlotte and the work she puts into it. They focus on the word and how it exemplifies Wilbur. They think the word is beautiful and the web is beautiful and they connect it to Wilbur and think it’s great. But they forget how much Charlotte is working night after night. It’s just interesting because I am not quite at the professional level yet, but watching some of these other people who can do a lot more and have routines already–it looks gorgeous and effortless. But then I try some of the basic moves and it’s so hard. So it’s just interesting to connect that, because by the end of the play Charlotte is really tired and worn out so I can do method acting in that way.
Me: What’s the hardest move you have to do?
Meg: Sometimes just the basic moves. Like being able to get the silks in the right spot so you don’t fall out. Or sometimes it’s just the transition, or just rotating through that are in so many different moves. But I think the one I just worked on, which is called the Flamingo (and I know it’ll get a lot more complicated!), is hard because it’s just like remembering which direction to rotate, which leg hooks where, and whether it’s[the silk] supposed to go on the outside or through the middle. So honestly that what’s the hardest. It takes a lot of thought before it becomes natural. But you can’t really stop in the middle of a move to figure it out otherwise you lose your momentum or it just won’t happen.
Me: What are you most excited about with the aerial silks?
Meg: I am excited to feel comfortable with it! I am excited for when it gets to the point where we can do choreography and when that choreography can help enhance the character and the show. Because I think it is going to be such a different experience to not be a spider walking on the ground, but to be in the air. I think it is going to affect the character a lot, which I am really excited about. It’s going to help me make a lot of discoveries as well as just being really exciting to learn a new skill and have that experience of working hard to get good at it, because that’s always so rewarding. I’m just really excited to see how it plays into the show and the character.
Me: What’s your favorite move to do?
Meg: Oh boy! When I can get it, the hip keys are really fun! It’s just like you’re whacking your legs and all of a sudden you’re on your side and the silks are holding you up and you’re not holding on. So that’s exciting just because of that feeling of finally getting it and it’s secure. That’s great. So hip keys are fun! I like doing the split rollup—right now all of my favorite moves are the easy ones because those are the ones I can do! But those are my favorite ones at the moment!