Season Eight: Week 33

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“Who wants to think about life before Shakespeare?”

Tuesday / April 23/ 2019
Written by Frannie

After a longer-than-usual check in, we got rolling with Act III, scene i. It’s been a little while since we’ve worked on it, and we needed to flip some of the blocking to accommodate other changes we’ve made, but it mostly held up! This was Matt’s first time through the scene (he’s playing Feste now), and the zannis (newly empowered and energized from their recent breakthroughs!) guided him through, discovering new shtick along the way.

The actors had high energy and were committed to what they were doing, even when they butted heads a little on how to handle certain lines of dialogue. This is the time of year when people’s nerves start to fray a bit, and tensions can rise, but it didn’t seem like anything was about to boil over—or even close to it. Still, our collaborative staging process was more stilted than usual, and we had to power through unusual frustration.

But that led to some great discoveries. Viola suddenly stopped mid-scene and said, “This don’t feel right.” I asked her what she meant. “I feel like after my conversation with Orsino, I’m just jealous of [Olivia].” She and our new Orsino had stumbled on a new, more intimate way of approaching the scene that immediately precedes this (see Friday’s blog), and it necessarily altered Viola’s view of this one. “Roll with that,” I advised. “Don’t lock yourself into what you settled on before if your instincts are telling you to try something new.”

She took it back to Sir Toby’s entrance, which had really started to irk her (as her character… mostly... ). “I think I’ll go with the Maria tactic—put him in a box!” she said. Our Maria poked her head out from backstage and said, “Uh, that was Sir Toby’s tactic!” This is a very important element of our interpretation—Maria starts the ball rolling on the revenge plot but ultimately loses control of it—and it was good to be reminded of that!

We took it back to the top of the scene, and everyone made an even fuller commitment to what they were doing. When Viola gave Feste some money, Matt gleefully handed it off to one zanni, who tossed it to the next, who pocketed it. When he made a good joke, Matt high-fived each zanni in turn—except for Zanni #3, who pouted at having been left out. Then, as they exited in a receiving line of handshakes with Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, they got caught up in shaking each other’s hands—and Zanni #3 refused to shake hands with Feste. But he started it!

Our Olivia stepped up her game in a big way today, relentlessly pursuing Viola/Cesario, refusing to allow for any personal space, and alternating between peppiness and pissiness. Her increased energy allowed us to do some detail work on the “chase” she gives Viola/Cesario, including finding a very poignant ending to the scene.

There is more work to be done, but we’re looking good.