ceebeegee: (Viola pity)
Last night the current President of Sweet Briar appeared at a cocktail party hosted by an alum in her Park Avenue apartment. All NYC-area alums were invited so I showed up to schmooze a bit--Christian told me that the SBC President is really into theater, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to meet her and make a good impression, all for Project Thyme. Nice party--LOTS of smoked salmon and other nibblies, and everyone was very friendly. (Sooooo nice to hear some Southern accents.) Schmoozing accomplished.

Lots of theater coming up--Anya and I are going to see the campus production of The Wedding Singer tomorrow night--I want to meet with some of them if I can and possibly find out how to put in a bid to direct. Can't hurt to build up some on-campus credits. And then Ashley is performing in The HMS Pinafore the next two weeks, so I have to catch that as well. Also Michael Clay (Marley in Xmas Carol '07, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Scrooge in Xmas Carol '09) is doing Twelfth Night (LOVE that poster!) in Midtown--haven't seen that in a while, must see! Here's the thing, though--I get a little antsy at having to see Ashley in Pinafore because it's not a cheap ticket--the least expensive is $25--and Ashley's only in the chorus. If she were Josephine of course I'd love to see it--but spending that much money to see her in chorus? Argh. I'm so poor right now. But I want to support Ashley and I know she loves working with this group. Here's hoping this production isn't focused on the music at the expense of the comedy. I just wish I could get a student rate--they nail you bigtime for service fees, $4 no matter what (phone, credit card, mail) if you buy it in advance.

Oh, and I saw Sleep No More Tuesday night. Very interesting--it's kind of a haunted house/theme park version of Mackers (i.e., immersive, environmental, non-linear) if Stanley Kubrick had directed it. I kept thinking of two Kubrick pieces in particular--The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. It's interesting but it's a LOT of money for kind of an incomplete experience. But I did like it very much.

Softball tomorrow--first game of the season! Can't wait!
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
So I saw Twelfth Night at the Delacorte last night. I'd been planning to go with Griffin (my plan being to try to get tickets during previews, especially with what I expect will be a hot ticket like this one) but he forgot and had to work on Wednesday so I texted Lori to see if she wanted the other ticket. Yesterday was drizzling and quite grim in the morning and I almost decided not to go wait on line, but I figured I was up, I might as well. Waited on line for 3 and a half hours--I had to spread out my umbrella on the wet ground since I'd forgotten to bring a chair or blanket or something.

I'd brought a book, Connie Willis's Doomsday Book (which I'm rereading) and mostly passed time that way and checking Facebook. The Public is obviously trying to improve the line experience--they have a new food concessionaire which is also open during the day, so you can just walk up there to get something to eat. (It used to be that you could only get food by ordering from the cafes and delis near the theater.) The new concessionaire is MUCH better than the one they used to have, which was mostly ice cream novelties, brownies/cookies and sodas. This new one has really good coffee (Illy coffee, which is excellent), wine and beer, sandwiches, breakfast foods, salads, etc. For breakfast I decided to get coffee, a whoopie pie (what?), and "Market berries with sour cream and brown sugar." YUM. Not only is the food good, but you don't even have to walk up to the window--if you're willing to wait, eventually someone will come around and take your order while you're on line. And they even take credit cards! How awesome is that?!

So I scored my two tickets and danced away. I just love free summer theater, it's one of those things that makes city life so great. Lori met me after work and we went over together, getting a yummy little meal, including two glasses of prosecco, which we were allowed to eat at our seats.

This production of Twelfth Night looks as though it's going to be quite good--it was the first preview so it's settling into place still. Most of the principals are quite strong, with Hamish Linklater stealing the show completely as Sir Andrew. He is HILARIOUS, every time he opens his mouth people were dying of laughter. Anne Hathaway is good, but not yet great as Viola, but the basic work is there, she just needs to settle into the role. I do think she and Audra (also very good) missed some of the poignancy and sweet epiphanies of their first scene together ("The honorable lady of the house, which is she?")--the willow cabin speech was just sort of barreled through, and I didn't see much vulnerability there, nor did I see much of a transformation in Olivia during the scene, from cold-hearted lady of the house to a woman infatuated. However, again, I think they just need time.

Getting back to Viola, Anne is playing her as a much more believable male than I did (which is of course fine). She actually could pass as a guy. My thinking was that I'm kind of thrown into trying to pass as a male, and there's a learning curve. (At one point during rehearsals, Ben gave me the note that when I first run over to Orsino on "On your attendance, my lord; here," that I was running "like a girl." I gave him a LOOK and he laughed and said "I know you can kick my ass" and I replied "That's a choice! Believe me, I do NOT run like that normally!") I don't know that there's a need for Viola to be completely believable as a guy, because I think most people will believe what they're told until there's a very good reason to believe otherwise. And let's face it, Orsino is pretty oblivious. I also played Viola as much more--consciously light-hearted, as in I'm trying NOT to think about Sebastian and this grief that surrounds me, and as a result of this tension things strike me as much funnier. This came out the most in II, iv--I always loved that exchange between her and Orsino when she says "About your years, my lord" and "Of your complexion, my lord." I played it like I was about to burst out laughing--the lines are genuinely, of themselves, hilarious, and it's also my own private joke. Then the song "Come Away, Death" (in which they had first Orsino and then Viola join in--it was quite beautiful), and my mood changes completely, leading to the intense colloquy between O & V, culminating with

...she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?


I didn't really see that intense undertone of I'm desperately hoping you will actually get what I'm really saying, and yet I'm afraid to disturb this delicate balance. It was played more for laughs than anything, and there's so much to mine there. And I think you do need to have that mood change in that scene--V & O actually have relatively little stage time together, so you have to compress their relationship. So something has to happen, has to change in that scene.

I was a little disappointed with her rapport with Orsino, I don't know that I really saw that intense bond they have, the bond that makes II, iv, that big scene, throb with subtext, the bond that explodes into violence in the last scene. I thought Esparza was quite good as Orsino, I just didn't quite see that chemistry between them; in fact, after Sebastian and Viola meet in the last scene, they go off and hang out together, instead of her going right back to Orsino, like "see, everything is explained--now will you let me off the hook?" (Because even after Sebastian is revealed, she still doesn't know that Orsino loves her.) However, this was a much more overtly comic Twelfth Night. I said to Lori--they've almost staged it as a fable, "once upon a time, in a land far away..." The whole feeling is pastoral and lyrical--the set is a bunch of grassy, green, waving hills that the characters slide down and dance across, and the Celtic, lilting music is very effectively and beautifully deployed (Anne sings several times, and sounds quite lovely). The whole feeling sort of distances you from the more adult, autumnal nuances of the text. This is of course completely appropriate, but I do love those nuances--I love the haunting qualities of this play, the undertone of melancholy and a pure love that is completely suppressed, and the mourning for a dead twin with that background of water, water. If you develop those qualities, it makes the ending truly joyous, rather than just a resolution.

I was disappointed in the Maria, I just don't think she brought much to the role. Toby was decent but not great. Again, I prefer a slightly more menacing Toby. Malvolio was also good but not great, IMO--frankly, I thought Tom was funnier. Frankly, though, I'm usually not that interested in the TN subplot--I'm always sort of twitching impatiently until we get back to Viola and Orsino and Olivia. But as I said, Sir Andrew was HI-LARIOUS. And I did like the Sebastian (he was dreaaaamy). I thought the fighting looked pretty good, but Lori (who trained at LAMDA) was more critical.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
Hey, if Frederick Richard Pickersgill can do it...

_____________________________________________

Orsino and Viola

Two fireflies, shimmering in a sphere--
One on the ground, one circling in the air.
His lunar gaze restlessly scans Illyr
Seeking a consort proud, a queen divine
To crown with jewels rare and verses fine.
His shrouded mate yearns for a simpler prize--
A circlet frail, of bones and eglantine.

Seaward she waits, beneath a mirror darkly
Past delicate reefs of wit, disguise and guile
Through clouded waters, opal depths of brine,
Her green and loyal heart awaits below,
Sounding a cadence sweet and sure and whole.
Her song cannot be drown'd; untam'd, it must--
It will be heard, it swims like newborn soul,
Luminous as the winged glow at dusk
Amid the grass, to now await the night
Flickering tender, a soft and steady sign.
'Til now the one above espies her light,
And mimics with his own response sublime
A melancholy echo to her shine.

One on the ground, one answering above,
Two fireflies in unison--one love.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
I regret that Seth and I will be unable to attend your show. We have heard from Tesse that it is amazing and are truly upset that we will miss out. [snip] Please extend our regrets to the rest of the cast. This is our loss as we have really enjoyed Holla Holla productions in the past.

Oh, also Ben will be there early before the show, but he probably can't stay. He says he will be at the final show, though. :)
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
Hi. I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry that I didn't stay until the end of the show on Saturday...I hope you aren't too upset with me, and for what it's worth, I thought a lot of the performers were really good, including the actors who played Malvolio and Feste, the actress who played Maria, Duncan, and yourself.

Just passin' it on...
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
I very luckily happened to wake up this morning just in time to jump in the shower--I was so tired last night I forgot to set the alarm! Ahh, lovely sleep...

This is the man; do thy office )

I saw thee late at the Duke Orsino's )

play the tune the while )

I was worried about the cops on Sunday--since I haven't been able to get in touch with Laura, my FOHRP liaison--but no one showed up, except during the first show and Ilana dealt with them very well.

I warrant thou art a merry fellow and carest for nothing )

Him will I tear out of that cruel eye, Where he sits crowned in his master's spite )

Our dear souls... )

Oxford also talks about how the reunion of the twins is the emotional climax of the show, and I've been playing with that, and adjusting the joy and wonder of that moment. So much fun! I love the minutae of acting.

*Looking up Peter's imdb page, I JUST NOW realized he was in Cop Rock. HOW did I miss that???? I must get that episode from him!!
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
This weekend was very INTERESTING. As in the Chinese curse. Saturday dawned hot and humid--Ben showed up at my place and we lugged the screen and all the other stuff down to the Park. (One fantastic thing about this experience is that we can store stuff between show days at the Downtown Boathouse. Yay, no lugging stuff back and forth on the subway!) I was occupied with many producer-ial tasks, such as delegating tasks to the two volunteers, sending out for ice and water, setting up the backstage, setting up the stage right quick change section, et cetera. Laura, my FOHRP liaison, stopped by and we talked about the volunteers, and other stuff. She couldn't stay long, unfortunately. The show went up--we didn't have a huge audience, no doubt because of the heat. One volunteer, Selvena, was terrific in redirecting the foot traffic; she was very hands on and even kicked out three obnoxious little boys who were arguing with Duncan. (She threatened to call the cops on them--love it!)

A Foolish Thing Was But a Toy... )
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
I posted some of Jason's beautiful pictures (his photography is what makes them so lovely) on the Holla Holla MySpace. I really love that setting--it's a tricky space but man, you just can't get a better, more beautiful setting for a play like Twelfth Night than right on the river like that. My lover stands on golden sands...and watches the ships that go sailing...

We had a pickup rehearsal tonight--it was supposed to be a cue-to-cue, finishing up what we'd had to curtail the day before because of the rain, but a lot fewer people were there than we'd planned, so we caught Myles up on his entrances, worked on a few itty bitty things here and there and worked on the ring speech and II, iv (the second Orsino/Viola scene). The lovely and hard-working Miss Elizabeth graciously stood in for Orsino--I'd mentioned to Ben via email Michael's theory that there should be three kisses in Twelfth Night. One between Sebastian and Antonio, one between Orsino and Cesario (in II, iv) and one between Olivia and Cesario (in III, i). I wrote

I don't know if I agree per se--I don't think S & A should kiss because I don't think S
truly loves A (or he wouldn't end up with Olivia). With Orsino and Cesario--I don't think they should kiss, but it could be pushed even further *toward* that, because there's a lot there already. The second half of II, iv, after the song is pretty intense already. I had an epiphany about Orsino--the reason he's able to love Viola at the end is because he already loves her--in the fuller, multi-dimensional way he loves a man, whereas Olivia was just up on a pedestal. It's kind of like Michael Dorsey in Tootsie--"I was a better man with you, as a woman, than I ever was with a woman, as a man." Orsino is a better man with C.--C. brings out the best part of him. If we almost kiss, say before Orsino's and my last lines (like right before "Sir, shall I to this lady?"), that would demonstrate that intense bond.


Ben explored that idea a bit tonight--he said (in his email response) he was more interested in almost-kisses than in kisses, at least until the end, with which I agree. So he added a lot of hoyay between Cesario and Orsino--during Feste's song (which is the big turning point in the scene for me--my mood changes completely after that) he had Elizabeth (as Orsino) take my hand, put her hand on my cheek. It's pretty homoerotic now, as it stands--I think we might want to moderate it a little. Maybe that could come from me--right now I've been isolating myself during "Come Away Death," playing that sadness as a very solitary thing. However Ben wanted me to acknowledge Orsino's gestures more, and take comfort in them which is something I hadn't considered but yes, is more interesting. It'll all come to pass when Kenneth and I play it.

I don't like my ring speech. It just feels mechanical right now. Ben doesn't like the way I'm doing How easy is it for the proper false/in women's waxen hearts to fix their forms/Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we/For such as we are made of, such we be. He thinks the whole sentiment is sexist and borderline misogynistic--Viola's saying "we women are so weak, we'll fall for any pretty face." I said I don't think it's sexist, I think she (I) am talking about the human condition--people fall for a pretty face. Only she's a woman, so she's talking from that perspective, she's being rueful. He disagreed. I said "it's pretty rare that I meet someone even more feminist than I am."

Elizabeth helped me run lines, and at one point she and I bent backwards over our chairs, doing lines and backbends together. A completely new perspective. Our faces turned purple.

I love parsing the minutae of acting, and words, and literature.

I love my cast and my show, and Saturday we are going to be...transcendent.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
(BTW, I don't have access to either email until 5:00 today, so if it's urgent, call me.)

We had our first off-book rehearsal last night and I got through it rather well. The only scene that really gave me trouble was I, ii which is silly--I definitely know that scene. My difficulty probably stemmed from my not being able to run it through in my head before I started, and also the fact that I'm still not quite sure how to play it.

I've been working on the scenes when I get a chance (in the bathroom at work--really! All those mirrors, it's great) and I threw in some new readings in various places, including I, v on "With adorations, fertile tears./With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire." I reread that scene and it seems that the willow cabin speech contrasts with her description of Orsino's wooing.

Olivia: How does he love me?

Viola: With adorations, fertile tears.
With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.

Olivia: [blah, blah, blah]

Viola: If I did love you in my master's sense [blah, blah, blah]

Olivia: Why, what would you?

Viola: Make me a willow cabin at my gate...


So I'm saying this is how Orsino loves you, this is how *I* would love you. So I lightened up the delivery on "with groans that thunder love..." like "yeah, it's a little silly, a little overdone." I think that's a logical delivery but at the same time it feels a bit disloyal to Orsino. I don't know if it worked, and it seemed to throw Tracy.

I found a whole new rhythm/feeling with my brief little scene with Feste. Really, really enjoyed that. I always love acting with Jason. I still haven't quite nailed II, iv but I'm getting closer. I talked with Kenneth about it before rehearsal, and then during the break Ben looked at it and cleaned it up some. The second time we did it, I felt something settle in me when i said "was this not love indeed?" It felt perfect. I don't know if it read that well, but it FELT great!

V, i was better as well--I FINALLY stopped being so giggly when Orsino turns into Ike Turner and manhandles me. It always makes me giggle because Kenneth is such a nice guy, and it seems out of character for Orsino as well. But for the first time I was able to stay in character and really react to what was going on.

On more mundane Twelfth Night related matters, I found some tall boots for my Duke, and a hat for Toby as well. Tomorrow I'm going to the Halloween store again to pick up some more costume pieces--I saw a cute cap for Maria (one of those colonial white caps) plus some priest accessories and maybe a Captain/pirate hat. Chris has graciously offered to accompany me to help out.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
I love this role. I really love playing Viola. She's such a sweet character--the monologue when she realizes Sebastian might be alive is just so touching.

He named Sebastian. I my brother know
Yet living in my glass. Even such and so
In favor was my brother and he went
Still in this fashion, color, ornament
For him I imitate. O, if it prove--
Tempests are kind, and salt waves fresh in love!


My favorite scene--which I'm still trying to figure out--is that lyrical, heart-breaking scene between Orsino and Viola in the second act. That scene fascinates me--Viola starts out teasing Orsino with those sly, veiled references to her love for him, and after the song is in a completely different place. There is no line so touching as Viola's plea "Was this not love indeed?" Oh, it breaks my heart--I love that scene.

I wonder about the last scene--Orsino's bombshell to Olivia that "I know about your thing for Cesario" is really quite stunning, and yet neither Viola nor Olivia comment on it. And Orsino who's typically so oblivious--how did he figure this out, especially since this is the first time he's seen Olivia in a while? Someone must've told him--thanks for ratting me out, Feste! I think it was Feste.

I emailed Ben about the revelation in the last scene and also that Orsino doesn't react to Viola's declaration of love for Orsino--he still thinks she's Cesario at that point, as I said "the hoyay is off the charts at this point!" and we chatted back and forth about that, and with Nick the theme of violence. Ben wrote "So that we start with farcical violence; move to Antonio's gallant rescue (defensive violence, insofar as he's not interested in actually hurting anyone, I think); and finally introduce the police state: fierce, threatening, and dangerous." I responded "And in Ben's direction, yet more violence in the last scene when Orsino manhandles Viola (when the bear violates the flower...), which is backed up textually by the violence in what Orsino says '[I'll] tear out...sacrifice the lamb...' and Viola turns into Tammy Wynette."

I really want it to be August 4th.

Tonight is our first Off-Book rehearsal--I am off-book for every scene except a couple of patches in the last one. Of course it will all go right out of my head when I have to do it in rehearsal!
ceebeegee: (Viola pity)
Holla Holla Productions

presents


Twelfth Night

Directed by Ben Beckley
Featuring the music of Mickey Zetts

Shakespeare's gender-bending, heart-breaking comedy about love, mourning, celebration and rebirth is performed at Clinton Cove Park along the shores of the beautiful Hudson River.

August 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 18 & 19 (Saturdays & Sundays)
Shows at 1:00pm and 5:00pm--weather permitting.

Clinton Cove Park is located at West 55th Street and the Hudson River.

All performances free and open to the public. Seating is unreserved--blankets, chairs, picnics and sunscreen are encouraged!

Starring:

Tom Cleary*, Chris Combs, Steven Dawson*, Letty Ferrer*, Clara Barton Green, Myles Jordan, Paul Martin Kovic*, Duncan Pflaster, Elizabeth Ruelas, Kenneth Ruth, Nicholas Santasier, Jason Specland*, Katrina Stodd, Michael Vaccaro*, Tracy Walsch

*indicates member of Actors Equity
An Equity Approved Showcase


Twelfth Night is presented with the assistance of the Friends of the Hudson River Park.




ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
Check out the beauteous design--I told Duncan (over and over!) what I wanted and he put it together.

Front:



Back:



I also included a little surprise for the cast (nothing major, just a cute gesture). And I upgraded the shipping to get here in three business days. Even with the additional stuff, it only came to a little over 100. VistaPrint is so reasonably-priced, they're really great.

My nitpickiness with the design actually worked out, since we just added two new castmembers last night.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
Yesterday was a long one. I met Paul at his apartment to look over his wardrobe so I could coordinate a twin costume for the two of us. His apartment is in HomoHamilton Heights, not too far from my neighborhood. His apartment is in a beautiful old building, very similar to Tesse's building, with lovely marble floors. Afterwards we went down to the Union Square area to look at wigs--I ended up buying identical blonde pageboy wigs at the Halloween store on 4th Avenue. I may have them trimmed a little bit--the wig looks very Prince Valiant on Paul.

On our way back to Union Square, we passed by a new chocolate bar/store--they had seating (albeit a long line--we opted against getting something there) and a shop in the front that also had vats that were stirring melted hot chocolate. It reminded me of Ghirardhelli's. There were lots of samples about, and one of the counter girls offered Paul and me samples of caramelized pecans--soooooo delicious. We still wanted to get something to eat though, and popped into Au Bon Pain nearby which was a mistake. I wanted a smoothie but their smoothies aren't made with fruit, and the other three things I asked about, they didn't have :< so I got iced coffee instead. Paul ordered a sandwich that took at least 10 minutes to be made. ABP is supposed to be upscale--they certainly charge enough--and that kind of slapdash service annoys me mightily.

We went up to 34th Street to Conway's, that savior of every costume designer in the city. Originally I was thinking loose, flowing poet's shirts with vests for Sebastian and Viola, but then I saw their section of school uniforms--they had a bunch of different polo shirts, with both short and long sleeves, in different colors. The difficulty was fitting Paul, since he's not exactly the size of a child. The size 14/16s were still too small--finally we found the "Husky" sizes which worked out. My sizing difficulty was different--I have (more or less) the frame of a 10-12 year old boy, but my arms are somewhat disproportionately long for my body, so the sleeves were coming up short. We went up a couple of sizes--it looks better for Viola if the shirt is looser anyway--and finally found one. After that I picked out identical charcoal black newsboy caps--charcoal black looks good on blondes. I want us to have black pants as well--the outfit is simple but striking, and it definitely makes me look (somewhat) convincingly boyish.

We walked from Conway's over to Clinton Cove Park for rehearsal--Ben wanted to stage the last act/scene in the space, and for some of the cast, it was the first time they'd seen it. It was a beautiful late afternoon/evening yesterday--thank goodness, because I spent a lot of time standing on the granite and marble, waiting for blocking. Ben has some very interesting stuff happening in this scene--Orsino finally gets a personality! Frequently the last scene in a Shakespeare comedy can be a little...anti-climactic. They're typically about tying up loose ends and everyone gets married. Not this one--there's actual duh-ra-ma. Orsino gets super-pissed at Olivia and a little sadistic toward Viola--he is writing off Olivia, saying "I know you love this boy--but you'll never have him."

But hear me this:
Since you to non-regardance cast my faith,
And that I partly know the instrument
That screws me from my true place in your favour,
Live you the marble-breasted tyrant still;
But this your minion, whom I know you love,
And whom, by heaven I swear, I tender dearly,
Him will I tear out of that cruel eye,
Where he sits crowned in his master's spite.
Come, boy, with me; my thoughts are ripe in mischief:
I'll sacrifice the lamb that I do love,
To spite a raven's heart within a dove.


Ben was demonstrating what he wanted Ken to do, and passed behind me saying "you're torturing Olivia a little...it's like the adorable bunny rabbit whose neck you're threatening to snap [which made me laugh]...I want you to trail your fingers along her back as you cross behind you." Well, as I said he was actually doing this as he said it, and I was wearing one of my loose white little tops



--lots of back access. I started getting a little giggly and Ben said "is that all right?" I said "no, no, it's fine." Sure, the good-looking Director Man can trail his fingers along my back any time--I'm a professional, I can take it! On that note, later on Ken was blocked to grab me along the jaw and throw me to the ground (as I said, this scene gets very DRAMATIC). Ken, like Ben, had just been doing this (grabbing my face) and then he remembered to ask me if it was okay. I said sure, no problem and I was saying to Tracy that during The Trojan Women, I hated it when Nora grabbed me without asking, because she was so nasty and unprofessional during the entire production. (Nora played Hecuba and I played Helen of Troy--Hecuba hates Helen, since her abduction is what triggers Troy's downfall, and Nora waaaaay over-identified with her character. A strange woman--a very uncomfortable experience.) And yet, when you're working with people you know respect you and like you, you don't care as much if they ask permission. You know their grabbing you isn't some kind of weird, wish-come-true.

As I said Ken throws me to the ground. Nick, our Valentine/Priest/Captain/First Officer and also our fight choreographer, explained how to fall (on granite, yet) correctly. I was very impressed. Nick had told me he had studied fight choreography and has a lot of certification, but I hadn't seen him in action before last night. I think we're in good hands.

Duncan made me laugh with his shrieking entrance, clutching his head after Sebastian has handed his ass to him. He's really going to be very funny in this role. Duncan does ridiculous well.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
Holla Holla is on MySpace now!

The one flaw is that I can't seem to edit the calendar to show the days of the Twelfth Night run...I added the August 4th shows but everytime I add shows for the other days, they never show up. Grr!
ceebeegee: (Viola pity)
I've been thinking about Viola and Olivia lately, and how they mirror each other in many ways. Both have dead (or presumed) dead brothers and are therefore in mourning (Olivia openly, Viola secretly). Both are of the nobility; both suffer from unrequited love. Even their names are anagrams. They spend far more time with each other than with the men with whom they end up--and their romantic resolution is uneasy (the Duke switches so quickly to Viola, it's hard to believe his sincerity, and Olivia is forced to transfer her affections to Sebastian).

Something else occurred to me last night. Viola says

You should not rest between the elements of air and earth
But you should pity me!


And then later on, after Olivia's babbling, desperate declaration of love, Viola can only say

I pity you.

Viola is now the subject, not the object--she's moved from the victim to a person of action. You can see this transformation in miniature in the first scene when she emerges from the water mourning her brother, and then stirs herself to assess the situation and think of a solution--"Knowst thou this country?" (Rosalind followed this same arc as well--from grief to "were it not better*, because that I am more than common small, that I did not suit me on all points as a youth?" all in 10-15 lines. Rosalind is less active than Viola though, partly because she doesn't have to be. She knows Orlando loves her, and she has a support system.)

I'd originally thought of Viola as a waif--and she is, circumstantially, but not in personality. Her situation is an obstacle, her grief is an obstacle--it's not what she is. Olivia and Orsino have the luxury of indulging in their emotions, whereas Viola is forced both to act, and is constrained from action. She's treading the dangerous line of when and how to act--this is actually helpful with that passage

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.


It's easy to relax into that monologue--it's so beautiful. But there's something she's trying to accomplish with it; it's a stratagem, a tactic, on some level. It's active, not passive. Now I just have to figure out her meta-motivation--why the heck does she then help Orsino accomplish what goes against her goal?

*Something else just occurred to me--Rosalind's suggestion is couched in somewhat passive, coy language--"were it not better...that I did not..." Whereas Viola sturdily declares "I'll serve this Duke." This makes sense--Rosalind is nothing if not coy. "I would cure you, if you would but call me Rosalind and come every day to my cote and woo me." She's such a tease.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
I'm doing a flying readthrough of Twelfth Night right now (trying to figure out what props we'll need) and I just have to say:

Antonio is just. So. Gay.

There are just no bones about it. You can sort of squint and think of a non-gay explanation for his devotion up until

Haply your eye shall light upon some toy
You have desire to purchase; and your store
I think is not for idle markets, sir.


I mean, he's giving him money, not for sustinence but just in case he sees something cute in the store and wants to buy it? [*sing-song*] Antonio has a cru-ush[/*sing-song*] I wonder if they teach Twelfth Night at conservative institutions?--it's THAT manifestly gay.

And I love how completely oblivious Sebastian is to all of it.
ceebeegee: (Beyond Poetry)
We had our first "blocking" rehearsal last night for Twelfth Night.

WOW.

Ben is different from any other director I've ever worked with, and it's an amazing, intense experience. I took a risk deciding on someone whom I didn't know that well, but he had such a passion for the play I decided to go with it, and it's paid off. We sat in a circle and read II, iv (the scene where Feste sings "Come Away, Death" and Cesario and Orsino talk about love with insane amounts of subtext). Ben's just...he's great, man. It's awesome having a director who is just as into the Romantics as I am!--at one point we were discussing the exchange:

ORSINO
For women are as roses, whose fair flower
Being once display'd, doth fall that very hour.

VIOLA
And so they are: alas, that they are so;
To die, even when they to perfection grow!

I didn't quite get Viola's lines there--it's obvious it's an important couple of lines (the punctuation, the fact that it's a couplet) but why? It sounds as though she's agreeing with Orsino--but does she mean the agreement or is she speaking wistfully (unlikely, since Viola's supposed to be young) or sardonically? We were throwing around a few lines and Ben said something like maybe she's frustrated because she can't act on her emotions, she's frozen, and I said "yes, she's like the youth, in 'Ode on a Grecian Urn,' the youth in the frieze" and Ben knew exactly what I was talking about.

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
  Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;   
    Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,   
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;   
    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,   
  For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!


God, I am SUCH a Romantic geek. I could find Keatsian resonance in...Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The Ode talks about the interesting tension of various dynamic scenes portrayed on the Urn--and these scenes will remain forever in those poses, they'll never move on, or die, or decay, or achieve any sort of resolution. The bride is "still unravish'd" and "happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed/Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu."

We started putting it on its feet and went through a bunch of different beats and approaches and played a lot and eventually settled on some basic blocking. I felt completely engaged and just...like an actor. Man, I love the work, the gritty, deep-down work of acting, the analysis, the risk, the connecting with another person. I just love it. At times like this I feel such a connection with my grandmother.

So, to my ducklings who have yet to work with Ben--look over your text and think about it, 'cause he'll put you through your paces.
ceebeegee: (Beyond Poetry)
We had our first readthrough for Twelfth Night last night, down at HB Studios in the Village. I'm very excited we'll be rehearsing (some) down there--I don't get into the Village that often and it's one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city! I have a lot to do so it was nice just to relax and think about Viola. Readthroughs can be deadly dull--sometimes people read better than others, you get impatient when you don't have a line for a long time--but it's good to hear the play all the way through. It occurred to me, during one of Olivia's scenes, why Olivia responds to Viola--because Viola has a core of sadness. There's a layer of grief in everything she does in this play, and underneath all the silliness, Olivia senses that.
ceebeegee: (Midsummer)
(Second time around--this is the two-hour post that was et on Friday.)

So, yeah, uh, Holla Holla is doing another Shakespeare in the Park this summer--Twelfth Night to be performed for three weekends in August as Clinton Cove Park along the Hudson River (at 55th & the River). Ever since I saw Shakespeare in Love I've had that final image in my head of Viola emerging from the water--and I knew if I ever produced or directed it, it would be on the river, with Viola literally coming up out of the water. And that's how this production is starting--Viola pulling herself out of the water and standing there, wet and gasping and shivering. Not only is it a powerful, resonant image, it's also important to establish Viola's situation--she's much more of a waif than Rosalind, Viola has absolutely no support system, she's completely alone. She's such a haunting character--one reason I love Twelfth Night is that melancholy, that pocket of sweet sadness in her and Antonio. It gives depth to what could be a farce--makes it a true comedy.

Why, what would you?

Make me a willow cabin at thy gate
And call upon thy soul within the house
Write loyal cantons of contemned love
And sing them loud, even in the dead of night
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air cry out...
Olivia.
Oh, you should not rest between the elements of air and earth, but you should pity me...


Another cool thing about this production is that Friends of the Hudson River Park (FOHRP) is partnering with us. Check out their blurb! They've also put a big featured mention of us in their brochure--there's a picture of Kyle and me from Midsummer and a blurb and we're in a different color type. And they're providing us with a running crew--I don't even know if we need one yet but if we do, we've got one! The FOHRP connection came last fall--I happened to be in Hell's Kitchen and saw posted signs advertising a "Comunity Fair" with free food. I was all "Free food, woo hoo!" and went to check it out. When I saw the space, I was intrigued--clean, sweeping space, water, some interesting structural features. I asked if one of the volunteers if they had an arts liaison on the preimises and she beckoned someone over. I said "I'm a producer and we've done several productions of Shakespeare outdoors. We're thinking about doing Twelfth Night this summer--would you be intereseted in partnering with us?" She thought about it, we set up a meeting, I put together a presentation and pitched it, and they went for it. What this means is, is mainly institutional support--they're helping to promote the show and they're facilitating things like permits (they have carte blanche with the Parks Department so I don't have to apply for anything). It's all very exciting.

The cast (I had invited auditions) is as follows (explicatory notes for the uninitiated):

Orsino...Kenneth Ruth (Cinderella's Prince from Into the Woods)
Sebastian...Paul Martinkovic (Flute from Midsummer)
Antonio...Michael Vaccaro (Demetrius from Midsummer)
Valentine/Curio...?????
Sir Toby...Letty Ferrer (fellow Lovestreet refugee, along with Tracy and Tom)
Sir Andrew...Duncan ([livejournal.com profile] king_duncan)
Malvolio...Tom Cleary (Menelaus from 2004's Trojan Women)
Fabian...(Attend the Tale of) Katie Stodd (Peter Quince from Midsummer)
Feste...Jason ([livejournal.com profile] jayspec
Viola...me
Olivia...Tracy Walsch (Hermia in Midsummer and [livejournal.com profile] kimdeal2)
(They Call the Wind) Maria...Elizabeth Ruelas (hi, [livejournal.com profile] actress_in_nyc)
Captain/Priest/Court Musician...Nicholas Santasier (Dominic in Admit Impediments)
Court Musician...Chris Combs ([livejournal.com profile] planga)

Ben Beckley (he was in Eternity: Time Without End is directing and Mickey Zetts ([livejournal.com profile] neoscribe) is composing.

Going into auditions, for my sanity, I'd slotted people into certain roles--you think "well, if all else fails, at least I know this person can play that role." This isn't precasting, it's just a way to kind of organize thinking about all the people you're calling back. When I directed Agnes of God back in DC, I did that...of the three people I'd pre-slotted into those roles, one of them didn't come to callbacks, one of them came but didn't get cast, and only one of them actually played the role I'd pre-slotted her in. This time, I don't think even one person got cast in the role for which I'd pre-slotted him/her. This is why it's essential to keep an open mind--I didn't DREAM Jason would read so well for Feste. He literally sent chills down my spine--he has this edge that's very intriguing for that role. Like many actors, he uses on stage what he rarely if ever accesses offstage--similarly, many famously liberal actors play conservative characters very well (Alan Alda in The West Wing and The Aviator and Richard Dreyfuss in The American President come to mind). I resisted because we were hoping for a female Feste but in the end, I had to go with Jason.

I'm really pleased with my cast. I have to say, I think everyone is cast pretty damn well.

I've started thinking about costumes (can't get started too early) and I'm thinking Mardi Gras colors (purple, green and gold) against black velvet. Twelfth Night is of course January 6--the Feast of Epiphany, which ends the season of Christmas and begins the season of Epiphany/Mardi Gras. Furthermore the theme of Mardi Gras is Misrule--everything is turned upside-down (the song "Topsy Turvy" in the Disney version of Hunchback expresses this--that scene takes place on January 6). The lowly reign; things are crazy and confusing--much as when a young woman is mistaken for her twin brother, and a steward is thrown into prison for no apparent reason. The black velvet will 1) look good against the grass and 2) suggests nobility. It will also highlight the purple, green and gold nicely. I like the idea of black warring against these bright colors--it's a good visual representation of "Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Malvolio of course will have no Mardi Gras colors, and Feste will be almost entirely in them.

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