Portraying Solo character a learning journey

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Noel Ceriani during the filming of Solo (COURTESY PHOTO)

By Aleen Anderias

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – As a Theatre minor, American University of Sharjah senior Noel Ceriani was used to playing various roles. But when she read the script for Solo, Film minor Nourin Zakaria’s project addressing sexual assault, it started her on an intense path.

“This was a big jump for me because I’m used to playing a cute little character in a play,” said Ceriani, a Mass Communication major. She said that after receiving the script, she spent two months analyzing her character’s background, relationships, and development. 

While Solo has earned positive reviews and assessments, Ceriani shared that she struggled trying to gain insight into the issue it addresses, as well as the complexities of human emotions and behavior.

‘The script wasn’t easy’

Her research led her to blogs and videos of people’s experiences with sexual assault like that of her character. Ceriani said that sometimes she felt overwhelmed by the graphic information presented on the internet.

Solo was different [from other projects] simply because the script wasn’t easy,” she said. But she felt the effort was worthwhile because of her character’s complexity.

“As human beings we have many layers and we have to be really studying every single aspect of a character’s life,” Ceriani said. She added that she tried throughout the filming to get, and convey, a sense of the range of emotions her character felt.

Characterization

Preparing to play the role of a sexual assault victim was “hard mentally and emotionally,” Ceriani said. She had to separate herself from the issue while still embodying the character. It was, she said, a far cry from earlier stage roles she described as superficial.

According to Ceriani, her experiences with characterization so far have been mainly in theatre than on camera. She said she felt able to detach her emotions from those of her character most of the time during filming. One scene, however, in which her character has a panic attack, was tougher to achieve as she hadn’t done a scene as such before nor experienced panic attacks herself.

“When I was told ‘cut’ I had to immediately detach myself and remember to stop being in that moment,” said Ceriani.

However, Ceriani credited Zakaria with making her feel at ease during the filmmaking. 

“Trust has been established between us, and Nourin as a director always wants you to be better,” said Ceriani. “It was a lovely learning experience and working with Nourin is nice and easy-going.”

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