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pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #0 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Thu 22 Apr 04 06:01
    
Hey there, I'm Adam Gertsacov, the co-host of the theatre conference here 
on the WELL. 

 I was just recently cast in a Shakespeare play-- Much Ado About Nothing.

The interesting thing about the show is that our first rehearsal was 
yesterday (Wednesday) and our first performance is Sunday!

I told you-- Shakespeare in a Hurry!

I thought it might be interesting to do a journal about the process 
online.

Of course, I'll be pretty busy learning my lines in the next four days, 
but then I have 3 weeks of performances to catch up.  

If you are a member of the WELL, feel free to ask questions or comment 
here.  If you are not, but would like to comment, send me an email: 
<kafclown@well.com> with the subject "shakespeare in a hurry" and I'll 
post it here.

And if you are a member of the WELL, feel free to come to the theatre 
conference (g theat) and either start your own journal about an upcoming 
production, ask questions about theatre, write reviews of shows you've 
seen, or even shamelessly promote your upcoming projects.

You can read more about the theatre conference at 
<http://www.well.com/conf/theater>


I hope you enjoy the journal.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #1 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Thu 22 Apr 04 06:13
    
The show is an hour long condensed version of the show that will play 
schools in the Connecticut and southern Rhode Island during the next 
three weeks.  (run ends May 14)  It's being produced by the Colonial 
Theatre's Shakespeare-To-Go program of Westerly RI.  They are the state 
Shakespeare Festival and during the summer they will put on Much Ado About 
Nothing again.  Because I'm cast in this production does NOT mean that I 
will be cast in the summer production.  They are separate projects.

I'll be playing the roles of Don John and Dogberry.  Don John is the 
villain in the play, and Dogberry is a rustic clown/officer of the law.  
They are both very nice roles-- and i feel pretty well cast in both of 
them.

I haven't been a play in a while, and one of the reasons why I took the 
contract is that I thought it would be fun to do a Shakespeare show, act 
with other people, and do a show that I didn't write, act, produce, and 
direct.

It helps that the other actors are all really good.  They are some of the 
finest local actors in Rhode Island, including Bob Colonna (son of Bob 
Hope second banana Jerry Colonna), Nigel Gore, Chris Perrotti, and a few 
other well known actors.  The show is directed by Harland Metzler, who is 
the artistic director of the Colonial Theatre.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #2 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Thu 22 Apr 04 06:21
    
Our first rehearsal was yesterday, we met in one of the actor's houses in 
Westerly.  Westerly is an hour drive from my house, so the commute is 
going to be a little bit of a hike.  Some of the other actors also live in 
Providence, so it shouldn't be that bad.

We basically read the script yesterday and talked over some of the cuts.  
The weird thing is that Nigel (who is playing Benedick) wasn't there.  And 
today Sean (who is playing Borachio, the Friar, and a couple of other 
people) won't be there.   

This is a little more seat of the pants then I am used to, but hopefully 
that will make it exciting and fresh.

We don't want to peak too early!

ONe of the actors (Bob) was already nearly off book.  I was only cast last 
week, and wasn't even sure I'd be playing my roles until I arrived at the 
rehearsal, so I'm clearly not off book yet.  That will be a large 
challenge, to get everybody off book and ready to go.  I'm hoping that 
we will all be able to rise to the challenge.  Fortunately, most of the 
actorss seem to be pretty skilled improvisors as well, so we'll do what we 
can!

After yesterday's rehearsal, Sean and I went to a local coffee house to 
just run some lines, and try ot get off book.  I'm sure that I will be 
putting in extra work like that for the next four days.

Well, time to shower and get ready to go to rehearsal...

More later today!
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #3 of 79: Janet's boob poked America in the eye (dsg) Thu 22 Apr 04 08:06
    

Wow.  That's not "in a hurry", that's warp speed.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #4 of 79: angie (coiro) Thu 22 Apr 04 08:49
    
This is gonna be fun ...

I wonder if the titles could be adjusted to reflect the short
rehearsal period: A Modicum of Ado About Nothing.

Romeo + 1

Hamlette.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #5 of 79: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Thu 22 Apr 04 09:55
    

That is amazingly fast. I can't memorize that quickly. As someone who
takes acting classes for fun, I was wondering if you follow Stanislavski
or some other approach?

Also, even in acting amongst friends, I've noticed the energy from the
audience can be quite different. Do you have any words of wisdom about how
to handle different audiences?

Also, you mention not peaking - keeping the material fresh. Again, how do
you do that? In class, quite often the first run-through is really good
and then we go downhill and struggle to keep the same excitement.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #6 of 79: Mr Izzard's oeurvroruevree (woodman) Thu 22 Apr 04 13:34
    
A Midsummer Minute's Dream
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #7 of 79: Cleave the general ear (ronks) Thu 22 Apr 04 13:43
    

 All's Well That Ends Now
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #8 of 79: All's Well That Ends Now (dsg) Thu 22 Apr 04 13:54
    

I like this.  TFTP, ronks.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #9 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Thu 22 Apr 04 15:00
    
Second rehearsal ended today.  All I can say is Wow!

We blocked roughly half the play, and ran a couple of scenes a couple of 
times.  Beatrice and Benedick were nearly off book for a couple of them, as 
were Leaonato and Claudio.

What's that?  You don't know who these characters are?

Don't worry, there are summaries of the play online!

The entire play may be found here:
<http://the-tech.mit.edu/Shakespeare/much_ado/full.html>


Summary of the play:

<http://www.about-shakespeare.com/much_ado_about_nothing.php>

We've cut a few characters, and some scenes, and double cast a few times, but 
we are pretty true to the play, over all.

(One of the big differences is that we got rid of Ursula-- instead Leanato 
walks with Hero and dupes Beatrice.)  Also, we cut Conrade, and lots of the 
lesser characters.

The gist of the play is still there....
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #10 of 79: Erik (levant) Thu 22 Apr 04 15:13
    
For all those people getting "rid off", it 
could be the Scottish Play! ;-)
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #11 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Thu 22 Apr 04 16:33
    
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT ACTING TECHNIQUE

Questions about acting technique-- the Stanislavski method is a way of 
training actors more than it is method to actually work on a play.  There are 
a number of valuable techniques and tools that are studied.  In a play such as 
this, it's assumed (and it is actually true in this case) that all of the 
actors have already done much of their personal work already, and are able to 
command their tool to do what they need it to do.

And in this short rehearsal time, it's pretty much essential to work from the 
outside-in -- ie, work out the blocking, and let the actors figure out how to 
make the scenes work on a personal/emotional level.

There is not much "Acting coaching" going on, although sometimes a little bit.  
The director might suggest a different way to do something, and so far, I 
heard him suggest to one actor a different way to say something (mostly a 
different tactic to try)  He didn't give a line reading (Say it like this) 
more than "It's as if you are saying "Screw you" )  The actor has to find a 
way to get there.

 For the non-theatre savvy, blocking is the "figuring out" of the movement of 
the play (I enter Stage Right on this line, I will cross over to you on that 
line, I will step forward at this time, and then exit on this line)

The thumbnail on the Stanislavski method is that you work on your interior 
monologue and interior truth, and then by a method of transference, you bring 
your emotional truth to bear in the role that you are playing. This could be  
called "Working from the inside" or "Inside-Out",  in that you start with your 
interior truth, and let that affect your physical actions.

Another method would be "Outside-In" in which you make a few physical or vocal 
choices (this is what the character should look like, or sound like), and then 
you use those choices to try to make the interior truthful.  Something 
interesting to note is that the Stanislavski method was invented rather early 
on in the Russian director's life, and that it was brought to the US and much 
emulated here.  By the end of Stanislavski's life, he had kind of renounced it 
for his Method of Physical Actions, which is much more Outside-In.  Meanwhile, 
Americans were institutionalizing "The Method" 

To use an example-- there is a part where Don John says,
(this is the cut version)

I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in
his grace.

The Inside-Out method might have me thinking about the time my brother screwed 
me over with one of my friends, and how I hated him for that moment.  I would 
then try to transfer the emotion that I felt at that moment to a moment of the 
scene when I have to say that line. 

The Outside-In method (or the "Technical" would have me focus on how I was 
standing, my breathing, and maybe what words to focus on.

I had RATHER be a CANKER in a HEDGE than a ROSE in his GRACE. 

I might choose different ways of saying the words, and by focusing on that, it 
would be hoped that I could come to some kind of emotional truth when saying 
these lines.

A third choice (which is the one that I was primarily taught, and use, and I 
believe was formally taught by Bobby Lewis)
is to focus on your ACTIONS, what you are trying to do to the other person.  For 
this speech I might be trying to confess to the audience, or I might be 
venting my rage at the audience, or I might be complaining to the audience.  
Any one of those verbs might make my reading of the line very different.

Personally. I am a bit of an agnostic when it comes to technique.  I believe 
in using whatever works for you in a specific place, and I will borrow from 
whatever method I know if I can make it work.

If I had to choose, I'd probably be more on the  "Outside-in" approach, or 
technical approach.  Especially with Shakespeare, focusing on the words is a 
great way to I 
try to focus on what I am saying and doing, and let the "emotional part" take 
care of itself.  Of course, I have a fairly  expressive instrument, and a lot 
of experience at acting (and thus I' m fairly facile at the technical 
elements), so its possible that what works for me wouldn't work  for someone 
else. And if the director doesn't like it, its my job to change what I'm 
doing, no matter how. Make it different and wonderful, anyway I can.

Okay, enough of the pedantic stuff-- I want to go play volleyball now.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #12 of 79: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Thu 22 Apr 04 20:01
    

I appreciated the "pedantic" stuff. Thanks.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #13 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Thu 22 Apr 04 21:14
    
No problem.  I like being pedantic.

Today, I finished printing out my sides.

Rather than carry the full script, I only need the parts that I am in.  

So I made sides for myself, where my part is larger than anyone else's, and 
then I highlight it.

In terms of memorizing the lines, for me, the only secret is repetition.  
Repeating and repeating and repeating.

I'm starting to remember what the gist of what I have to say is--- but finding 
these words-- the words that Shakespeare wrote, that's what the hard part is.

And then after finding them, so that I can remember them with astonishing 
regularity, the hard part becomes not finding them, but discovering them, so 
that each time I do the play, I'm in the moment, and not anticipating the 
moment, or remembering the moment.

I had an acting teacher who talked about this, the need for technique.  You 
need technique, because when you play Bob Cratchit in Christmas Carol, your 
son dies 13 times a week, and you can't wait for inspiration to strike, or 
rely on "Being in the moment"  everytime.  You have to practice it, AS IF you 
were in the moment, and when you aren't, your technique will hopefully pull 
you through.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #14 of 79: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Fri 23 Apr 04 09:09
    

This is great stuff. My acting teacher has also mentioned things like
discovering the lines in the moment which makes them real for you
and the audience..
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #15 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Fri 23 Apr 04 17:03
    
Third Day of Rehearsal.  I have to say that it's astonishing, because we 
really are moving along at a pace faster than i thought possible.  We finished 
blocking the play, then did a line-through, and then a run through.

Of course, not everybody was off book all the time, and the director spent 
some time calling out cues and following the book.  That's definitely to be 
expected.

As for me, I'm working on my lines, but also working on characterization.  We 
are apparently dealing with Elizabethan costumes (not set in the modern day) 
but we won't get to that until tomorrow or Sunday.

I've been thinking about characterizations---of course I have to work quickly.

For Don John I'm using as a model or an image Robert Loggia in the Soprano's.  
He's got a hardass stare, he's always thinking he's better than everyone else, 
and trying to get things going his own way.  he also has moments of sucking 
up, being disingenuous and also being in his own way a nice guy.  I've been 
practicing my hardass stare, and using it and softening it as needed within 
the scenes.

For Dogberry, I'm using a character voice to inform the character 
(Snagglepuss) and then trying to build the physicality of the character around 
the voice and what I need to do.  At this point I only have two real scenes as 
Dogberry (due to the cutting) (and one of those is a fast change-- so it's not 
like I've got a lot of time to change costumes or turn around -- I basically 
exit as Don John and then enter as Dogberry.)

I think that given our audience, the kids will really be able to identify with  
both characters (or at the very least be able to understand their characters)

And that's what I'm working towards.

Of the eight scenes that I am in, I am basically off book on 5 of them.  
There's one Don John scene, and both Dogberry scenes that I need to learn 
tonight.

A lot of the learning will be based on repetition, so the more times we can do 
it (standing in the place with the actors, the better I will be able to nail 
it.  But I still have some tablework/brute force memorization work to do 
tonight!
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #16 of 79: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 23 Apr 04 22:07
    
Go, kafclown!
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #17 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Sat 24 Apr 04 06:03
    
You know, the typical joke among actors (not joke, more of a story, really) is 
that you finish the best night of your life on the stage, I mean you were 
really making something happen up there, and then afterwards someone sees you 
on the street and says "Wow, that's great!  How did you remember all those 
lines?"  As if being able to memorize the words was your greatest feat.

In this situation, it's a good question, and a question that I'm asking 
myself:  How am I going to remember all these lines?  :o)

And I don't even have that many lines!  One monolog, several slightly long 
speeches, and lots of one line interjections.  Still, everyday, after 
rehearsal, I've had a slight headache from the intense mental work of 
concentration.

I've been coming up with some comic ideas for Dogberry-- there are several 
words that I am going to mispronounce or misuse even further than Shakespeare 
took it.  I say "exmamination" and I am going to say "examinate"--  I say your 
worship, and one time I'll pronounce it your whore-ship, and the other time I 
plan on  saying horsemanship.  And because of the vocal Snagglepuss reference, 
I am going to add a direction to my last line.  In the blocking, Verges starts 
going right , and I correct him, and send him off Stage Left.  I'm actually 
going to say "Exit Stage Left" to him!

Of course, the director might decide to nix these ideas, and then my whole 
plan is off.  My job is to come up with creative choices, and give the 
director stuff to choose on.  The director's job is to choose the good stuff, 
or to goad me into creating the good stuff, or to give me some okay stuff to 
do if I can't find anything.  I think these choices will give the Dogberry 
role some comic bits of business. Whether or not the director agrees with me 
remains to be seen.  

But all of these ideas that I have stem from the choice of Snagglepuss, which 
also stems from the fact that Dogberry is a guy who misuses language, as is 
Snagglepuss. 
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #18 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Sat 24 Apr 04 19:15
    
FOURTH DAY OF REHEARSAL
Well, I am probably the furthest back of anyone in lines, and I have perhaps 
the least.

I'm pretty well set on my Don John lines, but the Dogberry lines are giving me 
problems.  I think that part of it is that they are all thoughts on their own.  
Dogberry's thought process starts up quite a bit, and doesn't seem very 
clearly connected to what goes on before it.  As a result, I have to keep on 
having these new thoughts, and it's hard to remember what all of them are.

We ran through today without stopping (at least not too much) and the whole 
show ran in at 59 minutes.  I'm sure we could bring it down to 55 or so.  I 
was able to fake my way through my lines (pretty much)  And so were a lot of 
the other actors.

The guy who is playing Benedick has all of his lines (although I doubt he's 
said one absolutely perfectly!)  By that I mean that he's got all the beats 
down, but some of the language is transposed or a word is slightly changed.

He's really excellent to watch-- he is able to make the words come to life, 
even if not all of them are Shakespeare's. He makes the actions of the 
character remarkably clear.  It's a great role, with lots of amazing language.

I think I'm doing the same, in a smaller way, but I don't have to display 
nearly the range that he does.

Well, I need to study some more lines tonight, before going to sleep.  

Tomorrow is the big day!

Our first performance!
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #19 of 79: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Sun 25 Apr 04 18:27
    

Break a leg
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #20 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Sun 25 Apr 04 20:00
    
Our first performance went very very well.

It was at the Coast Guard Academy.  Last year the show was held in a large 
theatre with wings, and a curtain, and lights, etc.

Imagine our surprise when this year we show up, and the theatre we are in 
is a lecture hall with almost no stage, no lights, and no wing space!

We had just enough room to set up our stage, and put chairs on the side 
for the actors to sit down when they are off stage. (in full view of the 
audience.

The audience was fantastic-- 250 Coast Guard Academy freshman cadets who 
had been studying the play in their English class.  They laughed at lots 
of the jokes, and on one of Benedick's first zingers, they all "oohed"  
(They also hissed a little when I first appeared as Don John.)

There were some line flubs from everybody, myself included.  My first 
little monologue--- I just couldn't remember the line!  I ended up saying 
"I must be sad when I am sad!"  Instead of "I must be sad when I have 
cause" D'oh!  But I got back on track, and probably not too many people 
noticed.

Dogberry got lots of great laughs-- I came out in a Cadet's Hat as the 
Constable, and they all laughed and laughed!  They also liked the voice, 
and I could tell that some of them even got the misplaced words!

The other actors were all right on (although as I said, everybody flubbed 
a little)  We managed to pull it off, and we got a standing ovation at the 
end of the show.  Of course, they are cadets, and have been trained to be 
enthusiastic.

Some of the other actors who have been on tour with this company before 
said that they were the best audience we'd get.  It stands to reason-- 
they are closer to adults, and furthermore, they already knew the play-- 
This show is going to play some elementary schools, and clearly not be as 
understood.

I think in about 5 days or so, I'll feel comfortable enough within the 
play to not worry too much about the lines.

Now, I'm still checking my lines before every scene....


WEll, have to go to bed, got a show tomorrow at noon!  (In CT-- 2 hour 
drive!)
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #21 of 79: angie (coiro) Sun 25 Apr 04 20:33
    
Hurray!

This has really been something to follow. I would never, never tackle
such a project. Whew.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #22 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Mon 26 Apr 04 15:36
    
Today was an opposite problem from yesterday--

WE had a very nice theatre (esp. for a middle school) but the audience was 
all 8th graders-- and I have to say that they just didn't get it.  I got a 
couple of laughs as Dogberry, and a little bit of an OOH! as Don John.


The stage was set up for an orchestra pit, so there was a shallow 
forestage, a big hole in the middle and a large backstage.


 ||_______________||
 ||               ||
 || orchestra pit ||
=====================
        stage

I did a couple of my Don John scenes on the forestage, but it was a long 
cross to get back.  T

This also meant there was a wide gulf between us and the audience.  Less 
than ideal.

I got just about all the Don John lines out perfectly-- had a couple of 
flubs as Dogberry, but that's the way it is.  Probably no one would notice 
accept for me and my scene partners.

In general, I'm starting to really get the hang of this-- pretty soon, 
I'll have it down, and won't feel worried about it.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #23 of 79: it's time for a colorful metaphor (jmcarlin) Mon 26 Apr 04 21:19
    

> I have to say that they just didn't get it

Sometimes all you can do is plant a memory that germinates later on.
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #24 of 79: The Great and Terrible (kafclown) Tue 27 Apr 04 19:46
    
Today we had a high school in the morning and an elementary school in the 
evening.

Both audiences were a little quiet, and with the kids with the 
elementary school (it was clear that the language was beyond them.  Still 
they got that I was the villain, and that I was the clown.  Equally funny 
to them was the fact that Borachio wears tights, and does a spin where is 
gherkin spins up, looking for a moment like a hoochy coochy dancer.  Hey, 
kids can be both the worst audience and the best audience.

It's definitely hard for the younger kids, because the show is primarily 
language and wordplay.  Even the high school kids and adults can have a 
problem with the fast pace of the language.  Of course, I speak slower and 
try to be crystalline when I am performing.  But I have the most easily 
cartooned roles in a way.  The villain and the clown. Much harder to do 
that with Benedick or Beatrice.

Tomorrow our shows are reversed.  Elementary in the morning and a high 
school in the afternoon.  The good news is that the elementary will be out 
of the way early!
  
pre.vue.82 : Shakespeare In A Hurry
permalink #25 of 79: a hoochy coochy dancer (wellelp) Wed 28 Apr 04 08:43
    
TFTP, Adam. 

I'm really enjoying your reports. You're touching so many lives.
  

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