An Open Letter to New England

Dear New England,

We seriously need to talk.

Now, I know you have your quirks and I have mine.  And I will grant, I am not always the easiest person to live with.  But this passive-aggressive behavior has got to stop.

You run so hot and cold these days, I just don’t know what to do to please you.  One moment, I’m enjoying a run outside, the next moment I’m bundled in all manner of winter gear and trying to stay dry because you can’t decide whether you want to rain or snow.  I will admit that there is a certain beauty to you once you’ve had done with your tantrums; when the snow rests peacefully on the trees and icicles hang sparkling from the eaves.  I will also say that in your milder moments, there’s nowhere in the world I would rather be.

a pretty moment I caught on campus yesterday

a pretty moment I caught on campus yesterday

The colors you wear in your fall wardrobe are unmatched, and your beautiful springtime airs are really all that a girl can ask for.

But then it becomes winter.  And your mercurial side simply won’t allow for any reasonable moderate discourse.  I’m always walking on thin (or sometimes thick) ice with you.  I can’t make any firm plans because I don’t know how you’ll behave on a given day.  You make it impossible to go out sometimes because you throw these tantrums that I’ve never seen anything like before in my life.

You know how much I hate shoveling.  I’ve complained enough about it that I can’t imagine you would have missed this fact about me.  And I will admit that everyone needs to make compromises; if I didn’t agree to some small amount of shoveling, I wouldn’t be able to see you in your autumn splendor.  But this promise of something warmer and then yanking it away before my eyes has simply got to stop.

I thought I was done with winter.  I thought I was done with the hoisting, the hefting, the cold sweats.  I thought I was done with the aching back and the chapped face.

But you couldn’t even give me that.

And, as though to add insult to injury, you decide that on the day my brand new theatre company debuts its brand new production that you know I’ve been working hard on and losing sleep over, you’re going to upstage it by making your own scene.  So you huff and you puff and you blow parking regulations down, and we have no recourse but to cancel.  This night, this night I’ve been looking forward to, this night I’ve been working so hard for, is now taken away from me.  Lost into the swirling white of your raging temper.

I really don’t know what else to say to you.  I don’t think that there’s a way you can make this up to me.  It’s time for some serious re-evaluation of our relationship, New England.  Let me recommend that you start groveling.  Right now.  I’m sad and disappointed at the moment, but this will quickly dissolve into rage.  And really, trust me, you won’t like me when I’m angry.

Regards,

Danielle

In case you couldn’t gather from this: due to a weather-induced parking ban in Winthrop, we’ve had to cancel Twelfth Night for this evening.  We will be back tomorrow full-force and hungry, though, so don’t give up on us!  Come and support our efforts as we bring you our experiment in communal theatre for the very first time!

Welcome to Hell

Tech week seems to have one of two effects on me:

The desire to run aimlessly around the house waving my arms over my head in sheer terror because everything is wrong and nothing will ever be right again and good god why do I do this to myself?

Or the desire to drop everything and do nothing but be at the theatre all day because things are going so well and the show is going to be so awesome and I can’t wait for it to go up so I can show people how awesome it is.

Sometimes these things interchange and I bounce from one extreme to the other.

Either way, tech week is not good for my work habits, it’s not good for my diet, it’s not good for my gym habits, and on the whole it’s not really healthy for me as a human being.

Luckily, the process of making theatre is healthy for human beings.  And specifically the

Unrelated: found this at the library today.  Proof that even I can make it in academia.

Unrelated: found this at the library today. Proof that even I can make it in academia.

process of making Shakespeare really helps to feed what I do when I’m not physically in the theatre.  As I’ve mentioned, this process has been bumpy; but we’re making something new.  Forging a new model is always more complicated than falling into the ruts of an old one.  The growing pains of what we’re doing can be forgiven because I really do think that the end product is going to be worth it.

Twelfth Night is different from anything else I’ve worked on.  I’ve talked about the community-oriented formation of this project, but it’s also not an ends to itself.  It’s a process.  In building the only true repertory company in New England, we’re hoping to keep our shows in rep for many years to come.  This performance isn’t a once and done kind of thing; it’s a springboard.  It’s the start of something that we’re making together and, as such, it’s much less stressful than a typical show in some ways.  I don’t feel the pressure to get it right once and for all because I know I’m going to be living with the show for a while.  On the flip side, I don’t feel like the problems that this show has are things that we can just gloss over.  If there’s an issue, we really need to solve it because it’s just going to hang Damocles-style over our heads ad infinitum.

We don’t have much to “tech” in the show because we have no scenery, no lighting cues, and no sound cues.  The things we do need to run are the insane number of quick-changes (I pretty much spend the entire play getting into or out of some outfit or another), the shuttling of props/costumes from an exit to an entrance on time, the manipulation of bodies in the space backstage, and general timing/human things.  Again, in one sense it’s a lot easier.  It’s all us.  If there’s a problem, it’s on us to solve and not a light board or a switch.  In another sense, it’s harder to solve these kinds of issues.  There’s only so fast anyone can move; quick-changes have an upper limit of time compression.

I suppose the ultimate conclusion is that nothing is perfect, the grass is always always greener, and hell week is hell (despite being fun when things are going well).

…it should be noted that the bizarre array of props that I need to pile and bring to rehearsal for this show is interesting enough to list: 1 ukulele, 2 fencing foils, 2 long red ribbons, double stick tape, 1 pair yellow stockings, 1 hair clip (easily put on/taken off), pouches and pouches of fake money, 1 black beret (I play one character that kind of looks like Che Guevara), 1 pair mary-jane chunky heels, nylons, a ring, several jewels given as gifts, maracas, a tambourine, spoons, 1 black Spanish fan, sewing kit, breathe mints (just general good courtesy when you’re up in each others’ faces), letters, sealing wax… there are a lot of hand props in this show.  Lots of gifts.  May be the subject for a paper at some point when it’s not hell week.

Welcome to hell.  Come see my show on Friday.

Scene-Swapping

For reasons that may or may not have anything to do with a certain production of Twelfth Night which I’m currently working on (you should come see it, by the way), I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the re-ordering of scenes in contemporary performance of Shakespeare’s work.

Specifically in the performance of Twelfth Night, the first and second scenes of the first act are often inverted in performance.  For whatever reason (and these reasons differ with theatre companies/directors), theatre-makers feel that it’s sometimes appropriate to re-organize these two scenes.

The opening scene of Twelfth Night as it appears in modern editions depicts the Count

Rehearsal: a still life

Rehearsal: a still life

Orsino at his court in Illyria lounging melancholic across the stage as he orders music played for him and pines for the love of the Countess Olivia (the first lines of this scene is the resounding “If music be the food of love, play on…”).  The second scene shows us Viola crawling onto shore after her shipwreck and asking “What country, friends, is this?”.

The opening lines of Shakespeare plays always tell you something about the play.  In the case of Twelfth Night, the show is steeped in music.  Twelfth Night is a show which examines the effects of music on human beings and Orsino’s court is a place where music is constantly straining in and out in the background, filling the edges of the senses.  Orsino calls music “the food of love” and does, in fact, seem to feed off of it for the entirety of the show.  When the music stops, Orsino is awakened to the harsh realities of life outside his court.  His veil of melancholy and self-delusion is lifted, and he finally sees things for what they are.

Orsino speaks the opening and closing lines of the show (…with the exception of Feste’s song which I would argue does not fall into the category of “speech” so we cannot classify it as the “last lines”).  It’s not often that Shakespeare bookends his shows this way and thus we should take special note of the move in Twelfth Night.  Orsino at the beginning is very different from Orsino at the end; everything and nothing has changed.  This is highlighted by his words and the impetus to speak them and through this the audience is forcibly confronted by the journey which Orsino has taken through the course of the show.

By having the first scene occur in a world and a story already in progress, Shakespeare establishes and highlights that world.  We are shown Illyria and how wacky it can be before the play’s outsider (Viola) enters that world.  It establishes something before fully explaining it; allows the audience to encounter an oddity before the oddity is laid before them in its full detail and glory.  In a way, it shocks an audience into paying attention.  It’s a lot easier for a modern audience to glaze over the lengthy descriptions which populate I.ii than it is for them to ignore the pining Count in I.i.

More rehearsing

More rehearsing

Perhaps most importantly, bending a script to one’s will is the cheater’s way out of solving an acting problem.  If you, as a director/company don’t think that you can deal with the script Shakespeare wrote, then don’t perform Shakespeare.  When an actor encounters a problem, he doesn’t simply change the line to fix that problem; he gets creative.  Shakespeare’s text should be treated with the same integrity.  Now granted, I do think that there is a certain amount of cutting that goes into any healthy modern production of Shakespeare’s text.  I’m also not completely averse to changing small words for the sake of clarity (just make sure you check it with your dramaturg first).  I have even enjoyed productions that played fast a loose with the text; but this sort of thing takes a great deal of care and experience.  As a general rule, don’t re-arrange Shakespeare.  Just don’t do it.  It’s sloppy, tasteless, and gives purists like me a headache.

In the interest of full disclosure, the group decided to swap I.i and I.ii in our production (on a day when I wasn’t there to dissent).  I have made the full extent of my discontent with the decision known and have no plans to censor my opinion about this issue.  Despite this lapse in judgment, the production is a solid one with a lot of fun and energy and I highly recommend you come see it (if for no other reason than now you can snob out the egregious violation of textual integrity innate in the aesthetic choice of scene-swapping).

Unstuck in Time

The days keep doing this thing where they blend together; one week rolls into another and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much of anything.  This is particularly funny given how many things are on my desk right now.  The main problem is I’m smack dab in the middle of a bunch of big projects and, for whatever reason, the projects I have basically completed feel very distant.

Measure for Measure closes this Saturday, but the bulk of my work on this show happened over the summer.  I’m proud to have worked on it, but for whatever reason the show’s run doesn’t feel like anything real or tangible.  Insert some comment about the fleeting nature of live theatre here.

Twelfth Night rehearsals continue and we’re starting to really have a show.  We did some

at least campus is looking really pretty... if a little soggy due to the great thaw

at least campus is looking really pretty… if a little soggy due to the great thaw

costume/prop digging last night and have most of our cast clothed (of course, I’m one of the exceptions since my quick-changes partnered with the two drastically different roles I’m playing make me exceedingly difficult to costume… but!  I have a vast wardrobe and a gay best friend to help; we’ll work it out).  Again, this doesn’t feel really real yet… we’ll see what happens when we start inserting props and costumes into the rehearsal space.

I got a big proposal off my team’s desk for my ASTR sub-committee, but the project’s in a holding pattern until it is approved by the big cheese Executive boards.  We are doing a wonderful job of hurrying up to wait.  The brief thrill of excitement at having submitted the proposal was quickly quashed by the dawning realization that we had created a lot of work for ourselves, but couldn’t do any of it until we were given the official green light to continue.  Work hanging over my head about which I can do nothing is perhaps the worst feeling in the world.  Ah well; provided the project is thumbs-upped by all official parties, it should be a very useful thing for the Graduate Student community.  Here’s hoping!

I’m working on a lecture for the class I’m TAing.  Actually, I’m writing this entry as a method of procrastinating from compiling my research notes.  I’m certain that this particular project will become more real-feeling as soon as it is anything more than a pile of disparate word documents.  Maybe a PowerPoint will help.  PowerPoints always make things more real.

Reading, reading, reading for my coursework.  This is a tiresome and thankless job and there’s always more to do.  Completing the week’s reading never feels like an accomplishment because there’s just going to be more dumped on your plate right after.  Really, finishing your assigned reading for the week just means you should be working harder on your papers, presentations, abstracts, or side projects.  Blargh.

board doodle from my ancient theory class.  This is what we do in Grad School.

board doodle from my ancient theory class. This is what we do in Grad School.

German progresses apace (though I took the weekend off to be with my family who came to town to visit me).  As the date of my exam draws loomingly closer (it’s in April, it’s not really all that close), I worry more and more about my own ability to translate anything not written for an eight year old audience.  I’m probably ready to step up my practice reading to something a little more convoluted than Grimm’s.  The Grimm’s tales are great and they were wonderful to get my feet wet, but I’m reading them pretty solidly now (with the occasional pause for vocabulary check).  The test is going to be administered on the level of academic-style writing; not exactly children’s fables.  Ah well.  Bring on the crazy grammar constructions and crammed-together German words.

Podcasting is a constant joy interspersed with panic at finding the time to do it.  The posting has been on hiatus for a few weeks due to my Partner’s real-life exploding all over him.  We should be back tomorrow with the wrap-up of Comedy of Errors and then onward next week to one of my favorite plays Love’s Labour’s Lost.  In case you haven’t already, go check us out!  We make great buddies for your commute!

So despite my busy busy schedule, nothing seems to be landing at the moment.  My life may be fast-paced and exciting, but it’s all a bit hollow right now.  I’m certain the feeling will pass; really what I want is a couple weeks off and somewhere sunny to go without worry about Renaissance playwrights.  Is that an awful lot to ask?

Well, in any case, I did have fun with my family.  Here’s some videographic proof.

Measure still for Measure

For those who have been following the saga, Measure for Measure opened on Thursday.  At this point, it’s nearly halfway through a two-week run.  I was there to see the show opening night and, let me tell you, that was an interesting feeling.

I’ve been living with this project since last April when I sent an introductory e-mail to the director.  Over the course of June/July, we spent a great amount of time cutting the script and crafting an acting edition (the first time I’ve ever had the chance to do this).  Her goal was for the show to run two hours.

It ran two hours on the dot with a fifteen-minute intermission.

Getting prepped for final dress; you can see that I was eagerly telling such to my twitter feed

Getting prepped for final dress; you can see that I was eagerly telling such to my twitter feed

Since June/July, my level of involvement has ebbed and flowed.  I team-taught a text workshop to the cast (along with my colleague who was ADing the show) to get them acquainted with the language.  I called it the “quick and dirty method to opening up Shakespeare for actors who have never studied him before”.  Who says brevity is the soul of wit?

For the most part, it worked.  The product was definitely not conservatory-level, and there are notes I still would have given, but art is art and art is never finished nor is it ever completely satisfying to the true artist.  On the whole, it was a show which I enjoyed (and that’s saying something; anyone who follows this blog can attest to how harsh a critic I can be), a show which I was proud to present to my cohorts, and a show which I had the opportunity to see grow from a seed of an idea to a fully-mounted production.  That is a process which is always satisfying.

Over the course of working on Measure, I would occasionally get e-mails asking not-so-random (but sometimes seemingly so) questions.  Do Catholic churches ring out the time?  How long does it take to become a nun?  What does this word/sentence/phrase mean?  Some of these questions are things I could have predicted (seriously, “Prenzie”?), some of them I never would have imagined.  But that’s part of what was so exciting about this; in working closely with the text and the director, I had the opportunity to come to new understandings about a show I (honestly) hadn’t put overmuch thought into before.

One of the tasks which I enjoyed the most was crafting a timeline of the action.  When does this scene happen?  How much time passes between Act I and Act V?  (…the answer, for those who are curious, is somewhere between six days and three weeks depending on how much time passes between when Angelo takes office and when Claudio is arrested.  After I.ii, the rest of the play’s events occur over the course of five distinct days).  It was gratifying to be able to sift and sort the text and make some sense of it in a useful, tangible way.  This, ideally, is what my job would always be like; someone has a question which needs answering, they ask that question of me, I go through what I know best and find an answer.  Alas, if only everything were so simple!

My partner in crime, who was able to attend opening with me, told me he saw my fingerprints on the show.  That, if nothing else, is perhaps the most gratifying part of my job.  I also received a lovely e-mail from our department chair complimenting my work on the essays in the show’s program (double wonderful since those essays gave me such a headache when I was working on them).

2013-02-14 20.00.10

Opening night. Yes, I know, the set looks basically the same from final dress. Sorry for the redundancy!

So, I declare my first official project as a dramaturg to be a success.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process (even if sometimes it kept me up at night… literally.  I was up until 2AM the night before opening sending out notes to actors) and will gladly do it again.

…maybe after a little break though.  Twelfth Night is relatively time consuming and I do need to catch up on the desk-piles again.  I really wish my papers would start writing themselves.

Super-Secret Mystery Project: Revealed!

It was officially made official last week so I can now officially tell you what all this hulla-ba-loo about my super secret project is about:

I’m working on Twelfth Night.

And it’s not just any Twelfth Night.

 When we finished As You Like It, a few of the cast members and I felt like-mindedly that A) we didn’t want to stop working on Shakespeare, B) we had learned a lot from this process and we wanted to continue learning from each other, and C) we had some ideas about how to create theatre that existing companies may not be comfortable with.

One idea that I have been kicking around for many years is this: can you create theatre without a director?  Do you need a single guiding vision in the room, or is a roomful of smart, talented people a viable alternative?  Can you collaborate one what should be a truly collaborative process?

Apparently, I’m not the only one.  My cohorts felt similarly; too long oppressed by the

Myself and my best gay will be playing old friends once more; he's taking on Feste amongst other roles

Myself and my best gay will be playing old friends once more; he’s taking on Feste amongst other roles

tyranny of ego-driven directors, we struck out on our own to try an experiment.  We wanted to create a dynamic company driven by a mutual passion for Shakespeare and a burning desire to produce his work.  We wanted to create an environment where we could learn from each other equally and where one voice wasn’t necessarily the presiding one.

A few networking connections later and we had begun rehearsal.  Due to the brilliance of one of my compatriots, the show’s been cut to two hours and is being performed with (get this) eight actors.  We’re all doubling roles in one way or another and this has led to a rollicking good time at rehearsal.  Twelfth Night is already a fun show, but pile on top of the innate humor some great ensemble work and meta-theatrics and you’ve got yourself a real winner.  I always leave rehearsal more excited than I was when I walked in, more energized than I was when I walked in, and more impatient to see the end produce than I was when I walked in.

In short: you should come see our little experiment in action!  We’re calling ourselves (at least for now) the “What you Will Players” and we hope to be taking the Boston theatre scene by storm.  Our guiding values are community, engagement (with the audience and the text), enlightenment (of ourselves, each other, and our audiences), and simple performance done simply.  We’re not into bells and whistles and Twelfth Night will be performed largely using costumes and props that we found in our basements and closets.  We’re hoping to show that good Shakespeare doesn’t need the trappings of theatrics

the last time I was in Twelfth Night I played Antonio/the Sea Captain... you know... coz I'm a big scary pirate.

the last time I was in Twelfth Night I played Antonio/the Sea Captain… you know… coz I’m a big scary pirate.

layered on top if it, but rather (simply) a genuine emotional connection.

I’ve worked on Twelfth Night before.  I’ve done monologues, scenes, and even the entire show.  This is the first time that I’ve really felt connected to it, however, rather than distanced from it.  In fact, the last production of Twelfth Night that I was in was the one that made me run screaming from the theatre due to an awful director, his ego-driven antics, and his inability to communicate with me as an actor.  My current rehearsal process is slowly curing me of my Twelfth Night phobia and I can honestly say that this show is going to be a real treat to see.

…so who am I playing, you ask?  Through some exceedingly clever script cutting and some crazy quick changing, I’ll be appearing as both Maria and Olivia.  Can you already tell how much fun this is?

Updates to follow in the coming months!  We will be performing March 8th and 9th at 8PM and 10th at 3PM at the Winthrop Under-Playhouse Blackbox (60 Hermon St., Winthrop MA) so mark your calendars.  Ticket info will be available very soon!

The Weekend in Reviews

This weekend past, I had the good fortune to see three shows over the course of four nights.

Since I’m currently in conference-prep mode, I don’t have the time or sanity to do a full review of each of them, but I would like to say a little something about all of them.  So here’s the weekend in reviews!

Macbeth
Performed by Theater906 at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts
Directed by Emily C.A. Snyder

For all intents and purposes, this was community theatre Shakespeare.  Now I’ve had some bad experiences with CTS, and some good ones… and I’m sorry to say that this show simply did not deliver.  It had potential; its primary focus was upon the idea of “castles built on sand”.  It was set on the seaside at some point between the world wars, and the title character’s hands (once steeped in blood) never washed clean.

There were a few major flaws with the production: 1) it treated its audience like idiots.  I don’t have a problem with “new” and “different” readings of these plays if they are firmly

The set for MacB. Pretty nice as sets go!

grounded in text and well dramaturged, I don’t even have a problem with a bit of textual manipulation, but if you’re going to do it trust your audience to follow along with you.  The conceit of “sand castles” was written into the program, presented in all the advertising material, and shown out in front of the theatre.  You don’t need to beat us over the head with it in an artsier-than-thou montage during the curtain call.  Have a little faith in the people who see your show.  2) There were some big, bold ideas that were presented in the performance (i.e. Duncan as an angel of death figure who came and retrieved the corpses of the dead, Lady M’s obsession with children, violence violence violence intersecting innocence), but they simply weren’t played ENOUGH.  If you’re going to do something big, go big or go home.  If you do it too small, your audience simply won’t follow you.  Because the director refused to commit to her grand choices, they simply read as half-hearted attempts to connect with a concept that wasn’t fully fleshed out.  3) Macbeth should never be played as Hamlet.  Yes, he runs mad.  Yes, his wife goes bonkers.  But Macbeth’s madness is a different madness than Hamlet’s.  It’s not as weak and bumbling, it has an innate strength and danger to it.  I don’t want to see the King of Scotland writhing on the floor because he killed one man.  Remember: MacB is a SOLDIER.  He’s killed before.  It’s not the act of murder that takes his sanity from him, but rather the sense of divine wrongness in the act of defying natural order.

On the whole, give this one a miss… unless you really feel like you need to get some wear out of your black beret and sunglasses.

Twelfth Night
Performed by the Rhode Island Shakespeare Theatre at Roots Café in Providence
Directed by Bob Colonna

My love for TRIST and Bob Colonna is no secret.  THIS is the kind of Community Theatre Shakespeare that gives me hope for humanity.

Colonna is masterful at taking a cast of amateur and quasi-professional actors and building them into an unstoppable force of Bardery.  In his Twelfth Night, he cut the text down to two hours, pumped up the volume, and created a rip-roaring evening of vaudevillian hilarity which had us grinning ear to ear.  Colonna’s actors don’t miss a beat, and are simply unstoppable in their boundless amounts of energy and enthusiasm.

Malvolio (front) reads the letter egged on by Sir Andrew, Fabiana, Sir Toby, and Maria

Moreover, Colonna’s textual coaching is unbeatable.  His actors punch the punches with enough force to leave you reeling.  They hit every note (in the case of his Feste with an astounding amount of beauty and power) and aren’t afraid to do things a little differently (doubtless this is a result of Colonna’s creativity with the text and direction).

Side-note: you can always tell when an actor is rehearsing for Sir Andrew Aguecheek because he runs around trying to figure out how to do the “backtrick”.  Someday I want to see someone out with a full back tuck handspring combination…

Unfortunately, I got to this show late in its run so you won’t be able to catch it.  However.  Colonna has promised me that he’s directing As you Like it to perform in June at Roger Williams memorial park.  I will post further details as soon as I know them… but when I do take my word on this: GO.  If you have to steal your neighbor’s donkey and abscond with the rent money to get to Providence, find a way to make it work.  Trust me; it will be worth it.

Romeo and Juliet
Performed by the Stoneham Theatre Company at the Stoneham Theatre
Directed by Weylin Symes

Yea, I know.  How many Romeo and Juliets can one person see in her lifetime?  This one was new and different because Stomeham coupled their adult company with their teen company so the adults played adults and the teens played teens.

As you can imagine, this presents a bit of a problem in terms of sheer experience.  Shakespeare is notoriously complex textually and, while I have seen transcendent teen Shakespeare, it is extremely rare.  To pull it off you need a creative director, a kick-ass text coach, and more than a little bit of luck.

Unfortunately, this production fell short on a few of those items.  While the teens did okay, there was an obvious discrepancy between their ability to speak and that of their older colleagues.  Moreover, the text was poorly cut.  Many bits of this play simply don’t read to a modern audience – the nurse’s long monologues at the beginning, the Queen Mab speech (unless you’re Michael Pennington, but really, who is?)… it needs some careful handling to really plow forward in a way that doesn’t lose its audience.  Unfortunately, whomever handled the text for Stoneham didn’t have a very deft hand with this.  The long bits were long and plodding, and important plot points (i.e. the friar’s letter going astray due to plague) were cut completely.

An old friend of mine (a fight director) held an axiom which I think is vital to dealing with a text as iconic as Romeo.  Here’s the problem: how often has your entire audience heard these things?  How can you even begin to think about putting your mouth around the words “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” without thinking about ALL THE OTHER FAMOUS ACTORS WHO HAVE DONE SO IN THE PAST.  It’s a Harold-Bloom-esque conundrum that plagues the modern actor about to set into any iconic role (Richard Plantagenet “now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York…”; Hamlet “To be, or not to be?  That is the question”; The Witches “Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble!”; etc…).  So here’s what you have to do: you have to assume that there is at least one person in that audience who has never had any contact with the text before and doesn’t know how the play ends.  You have to play to that person.  You have to craft a performance so that that person understands your story without any prior knowledge of what may be going on.

This play failed to do so.  They leaned too much upon the cultural capitol which they were mining to put butts in seats and, in doing so, did their entire production a disservice.

The fight direction, on the other hand, was downright amazing and some of the best violence I’ve seen onstage in a long time.  Bravo for that.

On the whole, it was a thought-provoking weekend.  Now here I go, back to conference prep mode; dive!  DIVE!