Tuesday / May 14 / 2019
Written by Emma
After months of continuous buildup, tonight it seemed that we officially entered “crunch time”. Ensemble members trickled in and immediately got to business discussing the scenes we were going to be working. In the name of efficiency, check-ins were done standing, and we limited ourselves to 5-10 minutes of discussion before we hammering out logistics for the final scene of the play. It was clear from the get-go that folks were not here to mess around!
With the ring raised, actors took their places to run 5.1. Without doubt, 5.1 is the hairiest scene of this production, and it requires more than a little grooming. Last week Frannie had provided blocking to help guide the momentum onstage. The ensemble enjoys getting to see these glimpses of “Director Frannie”. To me, watching her do her thing feels kinda like watching a chef cooking at a Hibachi Grill—impressive, entertaining, and something I definitely could not do!
We ran through 5.1 once before stopping to briefly regroup and discuss. For almost the entire scene, Antonio is being held by two zanni officers downstage stage left, standing by while all of the big final reveals happen. This generates a lot of idle time for Antonio, and the energy onstage was lagging. To remedy this, it was suggested that Antonio give up halfway through the scene, grab a clown nose, and become a zanni. After all, he is being put through the ringer as he discovers that a) His obsession, Sebastian, has an identical twin, and b) Sebastian is married. “That would make anyone’s cheese slip off of their cracker!” commented one ensemble member.
After polishing a few other bits, we ran the scene again. This round, the zanni officers scampered across the stage, eating popcorn as they watched the drama go down. The effect was just right—enough to keep the energy up, but not so much that it distracted from the story being told. Initially Antonio seemed a little unsure of where to go, but by the end of the scene she was joining in with the zannis’ antics. Great progress!
We then began from the top of the show with the goal of powering through as much as possible without stopping. As we made our way through the first act, I was impressed by how many of our actors were already off book (or close to it)! Notably, our Orsino/Maria combo had the majority of her lines memorized for both parts… I mean, c’mon! Possibly more impressive, however, was the way she deftly hopped between the two characters. While Orisino was all sweeping gestures, Maria felt snappy and saucy. A lot of great stuff has happened this season, but her performance is bound to be one of the highlights.
We lowered a ring of excited energy, ready to meet the next few weeks before final performances head-on.
Friday / May 17 / 2019
Written by Matt
Today was chaos! Our stated objective was to run through the end of the play, which we did. But there were plenty of bumps along the way…
This was our final rehearsal before adding the costumes to the mix, which always throws people for a loop. After Tuesday’s successful run of the first third (-ish) of the play, we had a sense of purpose today that kept us going. However, problems started coming up immediately--we were missing our Antonio and our Viola! With such a small cast this year (14, and one of them has no onstage role at all), it’s even harder than usual to cover for these absences. And it’s never easy to cover for one of the leads.
Frannie jumped in as Viola, and we were off! There were some definite highlights in the run, and a lot of messy bits that we stumbled through. Our Orsino/Maria held the show together at times, saying her lines, and whispering others’ cues and blocking out of the corner of her mouth. Act II scene v, in which Malvolio finds the letter as Toby, Andrew, and Fabian watch, was wonderfully paced and hilarious. Olivia had such a delightful performance in Act IV scene i that I had to stifle laughter in the folds of the curtain.
Truth be told, though, the run was very messy, and some of our ensemble members (not least the facilitators) are beginning to worry about the absences. I have to say, though… despite everything falling apart and needing to be awkwardly put back together again, spirits were pretty high at the end of the session. We made it to the end of the show! And, just in case we were worried about it, our curtain captain told us that she was encouraged. She said that she was finally starting to understand the convoluted storyline by watching our performances. We’ll call that a win! Costumes next time!