"[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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Directing Shakespeare, Post #2

It's been two weeks and a weekend since my last post on this topic, so it's time to bring things up to date.

Much of our time has still been spent getting the play up on its feet. There is a limit to the effectiveness of table work for young actors, and we need to get the play into our bodies. That also means we have to get the books out of our hands. So the really important work still lies ahead of us.

That said, we're doing OK and in some areas, very well indeed. I was thrilled with the swift and effective work of Christine Batac, who was scouted by Mr. Coviello to stage our tango number. In less than an hour she had our eight couples nicely tangoing, and in another hour she had staged three of the four featured couples in their dancing and dialogue sequences. Every full-time professional teacher should be as efficient and effective as Christine was. And I was proud of the cast's immediate infectious application to the task. Well done, all! This dance sequence will no doubt be, as planned, a highlight of the show.

My lead couple, Kelly Novak as Beatrice and Leonard Perez as Benedick had a great detailed scene work session with me as we drilled down deep on the "Kill Claudio" scene. We agreed that we would get this scene in performance condition as soon as possible to demonstrate to the rest of the company what the play should feel like. They are doing a great job of finding the black humor in this scene which is usually played for tears.

And a large group of principals had an excellent Shakespeare workshop session with me on Friday in which we worked on sustaining our strength throughout the long lines, emphasizing the final lines, and making the action words visible through the use of our bodies. We had fun and played a lot, but I believe we understood the point and I look forward to the work we did bearing fruit in the rehearsals to come.

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