Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Tantrum

More multi-tasking at the start of tonight's rehearsal. First, we tested the stocks. The barrel upon which Kent is standing needs to be stabilized, but the manacles seem to work. I also checked in briefly with Andrew, Max and Gino before they launched into their three hour swordfight marathon. Then it was upstairs to work on 2.1, which I originally titled "The Rage" but which I now realize is more accurately called "The Tantrum."

Lear sees that Kent has been stocked. He throws a fit. Regan tries to calm him down, and he starts spouting venom about Goneril. Then Goneril enters, and Lear starts yelling at both daughters. By the end of the scene, he's pretty must just yelling at the sky. He almost cries. He runs off into the storm, leaving a lot of characters standing uncomfortably on stage.

Discomfort is, in fact, the key to the whole scene. Nobody likes to see an old man lose his cool, and it's even more unpleasant when he is (or used to be) your king. Lear knows he's making a fool of himself, but he can't seem to stop it. In fact, as I described it to Dale, he has reached a point where, whenever he opens his mouth, he has no idea what sort of bile is going to pour out. I told Brittany and Beverly that the best way to deal with this sort of tantrum is to give him nothing--no energy, no openings, no excuse to keep going.

The scene was hard to work. First of all, it involves a lot of characters standing around for a long time, and I always feel a bit guilty about making actors give up their evenings to that sort of task. Secondly, the three principals were not totally off-book for this scene, so it was slow going, with a lot of frustrated repetitions of "Line!" I'm just thankful we haven't run into more scenes like that; it's actually rather astounding at how much of the play these guys seem to know. But this scene still needs work, and everybody sensed it.

Oddly enough, though, when you're doing a scene about discomfort, and you end up feeling uncomfortable because you can't recall your lines...well, it's not exactly method acting, but I guess it could be worse.

I could say more about the scene, about its weird spikes and drops of tension, but I'm too tired. Tomorrow we have to get that great big battle sorted out...and then on Sunday, we're running Act 1 and 2...and by next Tuesday, we're into all-calls. I think things are going well, I know things are going well...and yet, I find myself thinking about the Fool's advice to Kent: "Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following it."


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