Sunday, January 15, 2006

We're Not Barbarians!

Today was the first of this week's many hectic all-call rehearsals. 17 out of 18 actors were on time and ready to go; hurrah! You guys rock. We warmed up, then ran through the fights, and then plunged into a stop/start run of Acts 1 and 2. This is where the actors try their best to concentrate on their lines and blocking while their director is yelling "STOP!" every few seconds, and adding new material to their increasingly full plates.

It went well, although nerves were beginning to fray by the third hour. Most of the adjustments needed to be made in the busy scenes, especially 1.1 and 1.6. I'm trying to make choices that will simplify at this point--repetitive blocking for minor characters, or simply gettin' 'em offstage early. Transitions, which are a big deal with Shakespeare plays, are rough, but I'm not worried about them; in the time we have, I think we can get them flowing smoothly. Ditto with cues.

For the last hour of rehearsal, we worked the blinding. I've asked Anna-Maria to whip up some stage blood for this, but while we wait for that, we tightened up the violence. Andrew G. says we need to think of the entire scene as a fight sequence, with increasing speed and tension, and with the precise attention to detail that fights demand from actors.

One thing that really made a difference today was the addition of sounds. Like the battle we worked the other night, this sequence involves a lot of poking and stabbing and slicing, and usually, when people receive those sorts of wounds, they make noises. So Peter went from his initial cries of outrage (as in, "Hey! Watch the thumbs, buddy! Some of us need our eyes, you know!") to harrowing cries of fear and pain (as in...well, as in, "All dark and comfortless"). Ron, the walking foley artist, had no trouble shouting and grunting and coughing his way through Cornwall's death. Now we just need Kassia (the Servant) to give a cathartic, ear-punishing shriek when she gets disembowled, and we'll have ourselves a peach of a scene.

And yes, it's really as grotesque as it sounds. We have violence warnings on the posters. What did you expect? It's a tragedy.

Andrew G., observing the chair which Gloster sits in when interrogated and tortured: It's very nice of you guys to give the guy you're blinding a nice cushion to sit on.
Ron S.: Hey, we're not barbarians.


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