Tuesday / March 19 / 2019
Written by Matt
This is the part of the season where blog posts start to get short! Our plan today was to start at the top of the show at one o’clock and run as much of it as we could. We were slightly delayed getting started, but we mostly stuck to the plan: we began Act I scene i at 1:09 p.m.
Right away, things got muddled. The first scene is both complicated and extremely important to understanding the play’s themes and relationships. In the chapel (as opposed to the gym, which is our actual performance space), Lear’s entrance with his family and court caused an epic traffic jam that slowed us down from the start. There were some lovely moments (Kent’s “banishment is here” earned a note of “mic drop” from Frannie), but it still took us more than fifteen minutes to run through that scene.
Part of the issue was perennial: lines. Many of the guys have cue cards now, which are less obtrusive than scripts but are forever getting shuffled or dropped and put back out of order. The few guys who have committed their lines to memory still stumble over them a bit, miss cues, and stand for precious moments struggling to recall them. This is a common enough occurrence in any nonprofessional theatre, and it’s always an issue in SIP, but none of the guys has had the experience of simply forging ahead in spite of mishaps, keeping the show going instead of stopping to make it perfect. With the women, we have always had at least a couple of people who can carry their experience of performance over to the next year. It’s really a different approach to the whole endeavor as the ensemble sacrifices everything on the altar of telling the story. And maybe it’s because this group of guys is so brilliant and rigorous and dedicated that they struggle to switch into a new paradigm--one in which the important thing is letting go.
In any case, the run sped up. The scenes that we knew would be a mess were a mess--Act I scene iv, in particular, was confused and jumbled, in part because we had cast the non-speaking knights before our new members arrived on Friday, so that scene stretches us thin. But once we got to Act II, we were rolling. The scenes were taking only a few minutes each, even the long ones, which is a good sign. We got up through Act V scene i before we had to call it quits; it had been almost exactly two hours. The guys seemed a little bit deflated by not being able to finish the run, but we tried to assure them that two hours (well, it would have taken us another fifteen minutes if we had finished the play, but still!) was a really good length at this stage in the process. As we put up the ring, everyone was excited for the arrival of the costumes and props on Friday… facilitators included!
Friday / March 22 / 2019
Written by Coffey
Today was our first day working with costumes and props. Bringing six bins of clothes, a bunch of foam swords, and fake stocks through security was an adventure in itself, but I think I can speak for the rest of the team when I say we’d do it a thousand more times to see what it means to the ensemble members. Regan and Goneril, with their matching black dresses and black, lacey fans, looked fierce (in every sense) and immediately matched their outfits with sharper, more severe posture and movement. Lear looked “every inch a king” in his long robe and crown. Once the costume was on, his shoulders were pulled back and his head was high and level. It was unexpectedly emotional to see the men seeing themselves in their costumes. One man put on a suit that happened to fit perfectly, and he stood in silence for a few moments, staring at himself as if he couldn’t believe what he saw. Today was a striking reminder of how powerful costumes can be and how easily a change of clothing can make you feel like a different person.
After the magic of trying on costumes for the first time, we got to the nitty gritty of a cue-to-cue. As is usual with any production, the cue-to-cue process was long and frustrating at times, but seeing the men in their costumes in front of the finished backdrops was exciting. The show is coming together, and the hard work is starting to pay off.