Posts Tagged ‘Ken doll’

A brief question and answer session, in the earlier tradition, regarding the title:

Q. Do you really intend the bad sound-play pun in the title that I perceive you do?
A. Are we not Shakespearean actors? And does this not hone our fine sensibilities to attempt bawdy jokes on all themes, at all times?
Q. You are answering my questions with more questions again.
A. Neither are you sticking to your interrogative purpose.
Q. Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?
A. No, sir. But I bite my thumb, sir.
Q. You are a nerd.
A. Was there ever any question?

Colchester Vermont, October 10:

World records exist to be broken, and in a similar manner, the second group of highschoolers from Powhattan High School could not remain our best Taming of the Shrew audience for all time, nor could my Weyers Cave Shrew stay forever the best (though I had begun to fear that it might). The breaking of our records differs slightly from that of sports, in so far as we use absolutely NO Shakespearean steroids in an effort to surpass former glories. (Paul’s Grumio has been suspected by authorities, but continually tests as clean.)

Reasons that the show was excellent are as follows:

1. The chief contributing factor was the superlative excellence of the audience; the house was already packed at the beginning of the pre-show, and they were immediately singing and clapping along with us. They were certainly revved up, which made us more excited, which made them more excited, and so on until the end of eternity! Or, at least, the end of the show.

An amazing thing happened in the pre-show: during one of our earlier songs, a man shouted out, “Play some ‘Free Bird’!” This warrants the adjective ‘amazing’ because Scot says that exact thing during the improvised Sly opening of the show, which was to come within the next half hour. Ginna and I exchanged a look of shock and awe, mouthing at each other, “I can’t believe that just happened!” It was as if we were cosmically aligned with this audience.

2. The performance space, which was built as a music hall, had an acoustical wall around the back and sides of the stage, meaning that the centre entrance through the discovery space did not have access to the entrances downstage right and downstage left. So, we set up the pipe-and-drape system along the entire back length of the stage, with centre, upstage left, and upstage right entrances. This was chiefly a problem because there was no access for entrance into the back of the house except via the downstage entrances. So, if you exited to the downstage sides of the stage, you couldn’t enter through the centre, and if you exited through the centre or upstage entrances, you couldn’t enter downstage or through the house. ALL OF THIS COMPLICATION IS TO SAY: we had to alter some blocking.

Why is this good, do you ask? Simply because, in my opinion, it stirs things up, and in a solid show like our Shrew, that’s generally advantageous. A few examples are as follows:

2.a. Chris Johnston had to go to the true backstage area in order to retrieve the mandolin for the Latin/Music Lesson scene, but Raffi and I were of necessity stuck behind the pipe-and-drape backstage area. So, instead of all three of us entering from the discovery space, Hortensio entered separately, which gave Raffi and I the opportunity to construct an entirely new pre-beat for the scene, in which our flirtations were interrupted by Hortensio’s entrance. I’m sure that kind of thing happened for a number of different people, and it simply lends a new flavour to the scene.

2.a.i. An amusing side note to the altered blocking in that scene was that, once he’d exited to the true backstage space in order to get the mandolin, Chris realised that he’d left the Gamut with brightly-coloured hearts in the other pipe-and-drape backstage space. So somehow, in the brief time afforded him, he made a whole new Gamut. What it lacked in blue-and-salmon colour it made up for in the gigantic size of the heart on the front, reading, “The Gamut of Hortensio.” Naturally, receiving it felt very fresh and new, and reading the inside felt doubly fresh and new, as it read:

Gamut I am the ground of all achord
I left the prop backstage, sorry

[several bars of written music]

love love love love love
love love love love love
love love love love love
love love love love love

I have problems reading one set of words and speaking another, so this was what one dubs an Interesting Challenge, when one is trying to be judicious.

2b. I sat in the false backstage, i.e. in the five feet behind the pipe-and-drape system, for the entirety of the show, but there was really nowhere to sit/stand where you couldn’t be seen through one of the curtain flaps during entrances and exits. Still, I made the extraordinarily poor choice of standing precisely at the point where Kate comes barrelling through in I.i. (“I will go sit and weep / ‘Til I can find occaSION OF REVENGE RAAAA”). As I made the realisation that I was in full view of the audience through the curtains that Ginna had just parted, I threw my hands up, uttered a faint “aiee” and scuttled through to the comparative safety of the discovery space. I think I heard a few chuckles from our Supremely Responsive audience, but honestly, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time, as Bianca. And it may well be the pre-pre-beat to the scene where she ties me up in my own sash. (Ginna and I have gotten the pre-beat down fairly well. I will not disclose its full glory, but one key element is tickling. Other elements may include “O Christmas Tree,” the machine gun, or the Finger Ninja. These are actual elements. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.)

3. Chris quietly sang the “L is for the way you look at me” song into my ear during the Wedding scene. This was perfect, as my submerged consciousness found it very amusing but not quite as amusing as “Can you feel the love tonight” during a previous performance, which was so funny that my submerged consciousness almost lost it. And this would have somewhat foiled the look of supreme discomfort that I, as Bianca, am trying to cultivate.

4. There was a whacker noodle left on stage for the final scene, as I’m always praying that there will be, and Bianca’s vaguely lewd gesturing with it on “head and horn” and “draw your bow” was the best I’ve ever managed it.

5. Personally, I strove particularly hard to connect with Bianca’s spirit, and made another breakthrough of the kind at Weyers Cave. This was in part because I realised that I want little more on earth than to achieve that connection, because it has been so elusive. And when I feel it, it absolutely makes the show click. Granted, I think it was a great show for everyone—as Ginna and I came off stage from the Sisterly Bondage scene, she whispered to me, “I think that’s the best it’s ever been!” It certainly was for me:  the difference between shows with and without the spirit (for lack of a better term) is quite striking. I find it all the more awe-inspiring because the vast majority of either parts or performances I’ve had within the last four years or so have been with, rather than without, the spirit, and it is amazing how vacant I feel without it. The subject is touchy, both in and of itself and discourse upon it; I get so nervous and almost superstitious in feeling that I shouldn’t talk about it, and in a way I only feel comfortable speaking about it regards to Shrew because it’s been so difficult, because I know I can technically do the show without it. It is such a precious thing, and I often feel with Shrew that I am a kind of damaged vessel trying to coax in a spirit that cannot be upheld, or that I do not deserve.

This comes too near the absurdity of my self. Therefore no more of it! Hear other things.

Our audience was also excellent in so far as the resident Drama Club held a wee reception for us afterwards, with soda and approximately 13.5 petit fours per person. They were lovely to talk to, and real sweethearts for waiting around whilst we finished what seemed to be the longest load-out ever.

The foyer in which the reception was held featured the following sculpture. (Thanks to Alisa Ledyard, who posted this on Facebook.) It depicts a scene from one of the three plays in the Piercing Eloquence Tour’s season. Guess which one it is before you scroll down below the picture to see! If you don’t guess, and peek, Santa Claus will know.

So if you guessed that the bearded gentleman is Princess Katherine of France, you lose. It is none other than the illustrious Courtroom Scene from The Merchant of Venice. The bottom (not appearing in this photograph) reads, “Is it so nominated in the bond?” As this post is a post of lists, and as many excellent things about this sculpture are not visible in the photograph, here are things I love about this sculpture:

1. Bassanio’s gigantic moustache. It looks like the now-absent and much-missed handlebar that Mr. Daniel Kennedy sported this summer.
2. Antonio looks like a Ken doll. Also he looks really happy to be taking his shirt off. Apparently, now that Bassanio is here, he’s hasn’t a care in the world.
3. Portia’s inane expression. She maybe also looks like a Ken doll, or at the very least the Disney version of Portia. In my mind, as she replies, “It is not so expressed, but what of that?” she sounds kind of like those ‘soothing’  female voices used in elevators, GPS systems, airports, and decades of futuristic movies.
4. The random staircase. What courtroom has a staircase in the middle? And why is Portia going up the staircase? It’s like Shylock is saying, “But soft! What light through yonder forfeit breaks,” and Portia is saying, “That which we call a pound of flesh by any other word would smell as sweet!”

Alisa also took a picture of Mr. Scot Carson, Mr. Josh Carpenter, Mr. Chris Seiler and myself, replicating this pose, but without the staircase. I do not include it here out of shame. I am not ashamed that my eyes were crossed, which was an intentional effort to achieve the utterly vacuous expression on the Portia-sculpture’s face. However, I look as if I am with child. As I pointed out on Facebook, this would somewhat revise the line at the bottom from “Is it so nominated in the bond?” to “That’s not a man! He’s pregnant!” And I don’t want to provide any more fodder for those tabloid reporters who are following the American Shakespeare Center On Tour around so persistently, constantly flashing photos of us as we emerge from our motel rooms. No! That’s not a baby bump! Let’s see how you look when you eat at as many fast food establishments as we do!


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