Posts Tagged ‘Five Stages of Grief’

Warrentown, Virginia, January 16:

We kicked off the second half of our tour with three day trips within a couple hours’ drive of Staunton. All three performances were slated to be Henry V, which is statistically dissimilar to the general bookings for the three shows; in the fall, Taming of the Shrew seemed to account for roughly 45-50% of our shows, Merchant of Venice for 35-40% and Henry V for 10-20%. (Those numbers may not quite add up, but straining all of my mathematic faculties upon the problem, I have come to the conclusion that some numbers within those ranges probably do.) In preparation for our Henry trifecta, we did an Italian run-through (an extreme speed-through with blocking) of the play earlier in the week, yielding the verbal gems, ‘He that shall see this day, and live old age / Will yearly on the vigil fist his neighbors’ and ‘Here, uncle Exeter, fill this glove with clowns.’ In short, we were prepared!

As our vans were pulling into the driveway at the theatre in Warrentown, Josh said, “That sign says, ‘Tonight: Taming of the Shrew.’”

There were two Pinteresque beats of silence in the car.

Then came the crackle of the walkie-talkie, and Evan’s voice, from the other van, asked, “Did anybody see that sign?”

(For full appreciation of this dialogue, recall that Josh plays Petruchio, and Evan plays Henry.)

“Well, Ellen, here’s that drama you wanted at Georgetown,” said Ginna.

A well-placed phone call ascertained that we were, in fact, expected to do Taming of the Shrew. Subsequent emotions were as follows:

DESPAIR that we had not packed all of the instruments needed for Shrew; followed by INCREDIBLE IMPROVISATION by rockstars Chris and Chris;

RELIEF that we had packed costumes for all three shows, despite the best efforts of some of the troupe members to dissuade Aaron, the World’s Most Omniscient Tour Manager, who was bent on this course of action; followed by SPECULATION about how in the world we would’ve done Shrew with only the Henry costumes;

HAIR ANXIETY from Ginna that she had not washed her hair or brought the necessary accoutrements to achieve her Kate Hair; and, HAIR RESIGNATION from me, as I had packed all of my hair away flat to my head as I have to do for Henry, and wouldn’t be able to change it to Bianca hair without a shower and some gel. (As I have stated previously, my hair is the master in our relationship.) Alisa, Ginna and I also shared a moment about the fact that we were all three sporting the kind of undergarments we wear for Henry, and not for Shrew. I am not certain if any of the boys had this same problem.

DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION, and finally ACCEPTANCE of the death of that evening’s Henry; or perhaps merely ACCEPTANCE, followed several weeks later by ATTEMPTS TO INCORPORATE INTO THIS BLOG WHAT I LEARNED IN PSYCHOLOGY 101 IN COLLEGE.

Paul very much wanted to take a picture of a drooping Evan next to the sign announcing Taming of the Shrew, followed by a picture of Paul and Josh popping up from behind the sign ‘like muppets’ (those were his very words). But as Paul did not take the picture, and since I am the verbal co-Historian to Paul’s pictorial Historian, I must be responsible to record the idea of the picture here. Thus finally putting an answer to how many words a theoretical but untaken picture is worth: approximately 42.

Instead, when we were running “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” for music call, Evan sang:

You can’t always do the play you want
No, you can’t always do the play you want
I said, you can’t always do the play you want
But if you try sometimes
You might do Shrew
Oh yeah, always doin’ Shrew
And sometimes Merchant

I died from laughing, and am only here because the custodians of the afterlife sent me back, that I might finish my earthly business of recording this event.

It was not, perhaps, the best Shrew ever, but it was notable to me because it was the first time that we tried out a new piece of business in the Latin/Music Lesson scene, in which Lucentio presents Bianca with a ring. Raffi thought of it some time ago, because he is a continually inventive actor, whom, consequently, I could not admire more; however, we were unable to figure out what I should do with the ring, since I should neither put it on at that point in the story, nor do I have any pockets. (The front of my dress is also a little too loose to use it for storage. Believe me: I tried it, and the ring got lost in my voluminous petticoat.) Anyway, we talked about it with Jim and realised that I could simply give the ring back to him, not as a refusal, but because Licio is watching. So, though we had not expected to try it out that evening, we did! Though it ended up affecting me a little differently in the moment than it did when we had practiced, I hope it stays, because it charges up the rest of the scene, and, for me, the rest of the play.

In the end, our ability to do a different show than the one for which we had been mentally preparing amounted to a kind of triumph. Josh pointed out that it makes us more like touring companies of old, who would have performed whatever the lord of the house requested (“Can you play the Murder of Gonzago?”). And, he said, it was nice to know that if someone said, ‘We will give you $10,000 to do Henry the Fifth right now,’ we would be tired, but we would be able to do it. Naturally, we couldn’t do one hundred different plays, as they might have done in Shakespeare’s day (“Can you play the Murder of Gonzago?” “Uh, no, my lord. How about the Taming of the Shrew?” “O, vengeance!”), and so our Shakespeare On Demand capabilities are somewhat limited. But something in this may explain why, for months, I have been having a recurring dream in which we are suddenly supposed to do Romeo and Juliet, which is a difficult but not thoroughly ludicrous proposition for my brain to make, since I have played Juliet, in some capacity, thrice. Perhaps the most disturbing thing that this dream says about my brain is that I generally end up just dreaming, in extraordinary clarity, about whole chunks of Romeo and Juliet text.


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