We have had auditions for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, which were excellent, the cast list is posted, rehearsals start on Monday and we are really on our way. We have embarked on this journey in the usual Coviello-Lockhart manner--we don't know what we're doing or where we're going, but the important thing is just to start. I've been trying to prepare all summer; read books about acting and directing Shakespeare, read several critical texts on MUCH ADO, study the television production with Sam Waterston and the film by Kenneth Branagh; not to mention close editing of the script to cut it for time and clarity. I even bought a DVD set of the television series ACTING SHAKESPEARE hosted by John Barton, which was not cheap, but which explains how an actor does not overcome the verse but uses the verse in performance of the scene and the character. You see members of the Royal Shakespeare Company such as Ian MacKellan, Patrick Stewart, Judy Dench and Ben Kingsley trying out alternate approaches to lines and scenes in a rehearsal context--a real insight into the process of grappling with a text.
But there is no question that, no matter what level of preparation, we are still leaping into the unknown on Monday. I will be glad to deal with the familiar bits, finishing the design of the set, working on costume ideas with Jess Milne and Sarah Torpie (students taking responsibility unasked--completely mind-blowing). My cast is going to have to be ready to do some homework. I expect to spend an unusual amount of time for me sitting at tables working on the script before we get on our feet. And when we are on our feet and starting to work off-book, we will need a full-time script supervisor to make sure the script is being adhered to--to the letter.
We know we need a lot of elbow grease to do this one well. It is paramount that every one in the cast understand EVERY word they are saying; and then we must make EVERY one of those words as clear to the audience as possible. But none of this hard work will guarantee magic. And that is the promise of every play, but especially every Shakespeare play--that those words will light up a glow and send some magic sparks out into the house. Let's hope. Prepare and hope.
"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin