Tonight we were thrilled to welcome Patrick Hanley for a visit. Patrick is a stage combat choreographer, and he volunteered to choreograph the big showdown between Richard and Richmond. Everyone got a taste of fencing and had a great time. The ensemble decided that this fight should be solely between Richard and Richmond – they felt that any other fighting would be distracting. So while the three of them worked, the rest of us huddled up to resolve some casting issues.
A longtime ensemble member who had been playing Anne has left the group. I asked everyone what we should do about casting the role, thinking it was likely that, having settled into the roles they have, no one would want to take on another with so many lines. It turned out that I was wrong! All I had to do was ask, “Any thoughts on how to cast this?” And without missing a beat, our “extremely anxious” ensemble member – who, remember, just a few months ago said she could never perform, and recently took on a small role – said, “I’ll do it.”
“Really?” a bunch of us said simultaneously. “Yeah,” she said. “I’ve liked Anne since the beginning. I already was reading her with [another ensemble member]. I’d like to play her. I think I can do it.” We all applauded her – this is so exciting! She decided to play the First Murderer as well, at least for now. Another woman volunteered to take on that role if two become too overwhelming.
This is tremendous growth. It’s encouraging not just for the woman making these moves, but for everyone else as well. When we see someone else taking risks like this, it makes it easier for the rest of us.
We distributed the remaining minor roles as well. There was a lot of generosity there, with many people volunteering, compromising, and distributing lines.
With the remaining time, we talked about past plays and audience reactions, both to our successes and mistakes. It was a fun conversation and seemed to alleviate some of the pressure that newer members are feeling – totally normal for this time in the season.
The fight between Richard and Richmond is stellar. We are all very excited about it! Many thanks to Patrick for his work this week.
We were thrilled to welcome an ensemble member back to the group whom we thought we wouldn’t be seeing again. The woman who had taken on First Murderer immediately offered the role back to the returning member, who happily took it. She also decided to play Hastings after we lost the woman playing that role.
We spent some time working on Edward’s monologue. The woman playing Edward has an astounding grasp of the language, and she is very powerful on stage. The only issue with her performance is that she’s taking a lot of pauses where there is no punctuation, which is slowing her down and obscuring the meaning. We encouraged her to drive through to each punctuation, and to use her words to really lash out at the other people on stage. This helped somewhat, but she then confided in me that she has an issue with her vision that is the true source of all of the pausing – she simply has trouble reading the words. She is going to focus on memorizing the speech so we can see what her pacing is actually like.
We then moved on to the scene in which Elizabeth and Richard have some back and forth, and then Margaret comes in and curses everyone. This was a lot of fun. We explored different ways of distributing people around the stage, finding movement for the principal characters, and making sure that Margaret’s curses really land. We’ve got some refining to do, but it’s well on the way.
We have just a little more cutting to do to the script, and then, thanks to a generously donated binding machine, I’ll be printing new copies for everyone. We’ve been doing so much crossing out – the “clean” scripts will be most welcome!