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Archive for August, 2007

As we are now halfway through the rehearsal process for our third play, Henry V, it has become abundantly clear that I am a bit late to give any kind of timely account of our rehearsal process. So instead, I’ll address a couple of rehearsal tools that are special (if not unique) to the American Shakespeare Center, which may prove for more concise and consequently less tedious reading on your part. Because even if I were capable of making a post about each day’s rehearsal, who in the world would want to read it? One of my fellow troupe members (Mr. Josh Carpenter) wittily opines that the only truthful answer he can ever come up with to the question, “How was rehearsal?” is “Moderately productive.” Which our illustrious tour manager (Mr. Aaron Hochhalter) aptly rephrased as “We didn’t get a lot done, but we didn’t get nothing done, either.”

And rephrasing is the Rehearsal Tool subject of the day, only here it is rephrased as ‘paraphrasing.’ Before we begin rehearsal, we are expected to have all of our lines paraphrased. But, as we shall see, I think that paraphrasing should really be called by the fake word ‘synonymising,’ as long as we’re in the business of making language precise. Because a paraphrase of a line might go something like this:

The taming-school? What, is there such a place?The school to make someone more docile? What, does a place like that exist?

 Instead, we’re supposed to replace each word in our lines with its closest synonym, without altering the syntax. So, my actual paraphrase for this line of mine in Shrew was:

The mastery-academy? Why, exists there so-named a location?

The point of this exercise (as I take it) is not only to make us intimately acquainted with the meaning of each of our lines prior to the start of rehearsals, but also to appreciate why Shakespeare chose each word. And, most usually, to discover with some frustration that there is no word so perfect for the object, situation and emotion as the one Shakespeare used. It’s extraordinarily useful in gaining a knowledge of the kinds of words my characters use, and what cues Shakespeare is giving the actor in the very word choice.

For example, it’s important to note that Portia is using the metaphors of the courts of law in her very first scene in the play. So, “The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree,” is not the same as “The mind may construct rules for the spirit, but a fiesty disposition bounds over a dull pronouncement.” And naturally, so much emotion lives in the sounds of words, so all the sharp sounds in “You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief” is completely lost in the laughable “You bestow on your spouse an extremely unfriendly reason for misery.”

We then shared our paraphrases during the table talk for Taming of the Shrew and Henry V; we would read through the scene with our paraphrased lines, and then read through Shakespeare’s text with special attention to the cues he’s giving the actors in the natural scansion of the lines. We all paraphrased our lines for Merchant (which took about a month for me), but we didn’t end up going over them in rehearsal–but the work had been done, and that’s where the greatest usefulness comes in!

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Rejected Title: The Touring Schedule For Which You’ve All Been Waiting

Reason for Rejection of Rejected Title: Whilst more characteristic of myself and my speaking patterns, correct English strips this particular phrase of its resonance with the phrase “the moment you’ve all been waiting for,” made popular by decades people forced with the task of introducing an object that may or may not be actually exciting.  

Rather than individually telling each of the kind but numerically overwhelming  people who have been asking me about our touring schedule, I am going to post the information as it stands right now on the blog. Then, when we add more shows, I can just post that new information here. Ideally.

There are obviously a number of gaps; not all of those may be filled in, as some are actually scheduled days for travel or days off.

September 12: Tour begins

September 13: Powhattan, VA

September 14: Weyers Cave, VA

September 15: Lawrenceville, VA

September 17: Cullowhee, NC

September 18: Due West, SC

September 21-22: Orville, OH

September 25: Frederick, MD

September 26-28: Baltimore, MD

September 29: Sterling, VA

October 9: Burlington, VT

October 10: Colchster, VT

October 13: Valhalla, NY

October 15: Bar Harbor, ME

October 16: Orono, ME

October 19: Sheffield, MA [tentative for the 20th, as well]

October 22-28: Canton, NY

October 30 – November 2: West Hartford, CT

November 5 -7: Watertown, NY

November 13: Danville, VA

November 15: Washington, D.C.

November 17: Fredericksburg, VA

November 19: Bethesda, MD

After Thanksgiving, we return to Staunton to rehearse and perform in A Christmas Carol.

January 18: Weyer’s Cave, VA

January 19: Sweet Briar, VA

January 21-27: Fairmont, WV

January 29: Buckhannon, WV

February 1-3: New Martinsville, WV

February 5-6: Sarasota, FL

February 8-9: Islamorada, FL

February 12: Augusta, GA

February 14-16: Huntsville, AL

February 18-19: Murray, KY [tentative]

February 21-22: Dayton, OH

February 25-March 2: Indianapolis, IN [or another location in Indiana]

March 4: Monmouth, IL

March 6: Jefferson City, MO

March 9-11: Pella, IA

March 13: Duluth, MN

March 15: Fairmont, MN

March 20-22: Norfolk, VA

March 24-26: Rockville, MD

March 28: Open in the Blackfriars Playhouse

 I will now host a brief Question and Answer session.

Q. Is this information available anywhere else?

A. Yes.

Q. (long pause) Where?

A. I thought you’d never ask. You can find it here on the American Shakespeare Center’s website.

Q. May I ask why you typed it out when the same information was available with much spiffier design?

A. You certainly may. The website does not currently have all the information posted. We obviously don’t have the full schedule yet, either, but the paper one that we were given has more dates on it than the one you see on the website.

Q. Ah yes. I see here it also lists which play you will be doing at each venue. Do you know which plays you’ll be doing at the venues that are not on their website?

A. No.

Q. Is this very popular play abbreviated by ‘TBA’ ‘The Beard of Avon’?

A. No, that is Shakespeare’s lost work ‘The Tragedy of Baron Anselme,’ alternating with ‘The Bawdy Alewives,’ by Robert Greene.

Q. (skeptically) I’ve not heard of either of those.

A. Is that a question?

Q. Is that an answer?

A. Touche. (small pause) So, I’m hungry. What are you going to do for dinner?

Q. Oh, I don’t know. A quick stir-fry maybe.

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