We opened Love's Labour's Lost last week.
Here's an interview with Matt Davies, the director for that play.
"Romantic comedies work best when the audience is playing catch-up, just one step behind the love trysts and the comic shenanigans, and panting in excitement to keep up. Put on your running shoes, and tune your ears: you’re in for a frantic feast of wit, wisdom, and waggery."
And here's an interview with Jenny Bennett, who directed Much Ado about Nothing.
"Another thing that I love about this play is the notion that since we’re all invented out of nothing, we can reinvent ourselves out of nothing, too. Several people in this play are confronted with a rebuke of who they are, or how they’ve been behaving – they overhear people talking about them or are directly told they’ve made a terrible error. The real mettle of a person is revealed by what they choose to do with that information. Grace is available to those who take action to repair what’s broken, to be available to Love, to be ‘good men, and true.’ Along these lines, I’m quite fond of our 5.3 Tomb scene. Chris Johnston, Music Director, wrote the most beautiful song. I won’t spoil it here, but I hope you love it as much as I do."
These are two smart folks with lovely things to say about these Shakespeare comedies.
Both plays are running in rep with Peter and the Starcatcher at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA.
Jay McClure snapped this photo of me in our first rehearsal for Love's Labour's Lost at the American Shakespeare Center.
Whew. I've been busy. For the past six-ish weeks, the Summer/Fall troupe at the ASC has been rehearsing our repertory: three weeks of Peter and the Starcatcher, three weeks for Much Ado about Nothing, and we've just launched into rehearsals for Love's Labour's Lost.
It's hard to devote three weeks to a play and then switch over to another play.
Thankfully, we're opening Starcatcher and Much Ado this weekend. So we'll be flexing those muscles on a more regular basis.
Later, we'll roll in Love's Labour's Lost. In July, we'll start rehearsing 3 Henry VI. The four plays will keep repping together through December.
You dizzy yet?
All of this is pretty standard for a gig at the ASC. There's this period where things are a bit disorienting. I'm doing what I can to embrace the chaos.
I hope to share more fun along the way.
I'm going to be part of the 2017 Actors' Renaissance Season at the American Shakespeare Center next year!
It's a bundle of exciting plays and an excellent troupe. See for yourself come January 2017.
Here's my track:
I aim to share some of the process on the work in the coming weeks/months.
Three of these plays will not have a director (Merchant, Scandal, and Coriolanus). The troupe will put it together as an ensemble. Shakespeare's day didn't really have the role of director that we do today. That's a relatively recent addition to the theatre world.
We'll also "go rogue" when it comes to costuming those plays.
Our rehearsal schedule is a bit on the "very little time" side. And we're performing these plays in repertory.
I did the Renaissance Season in 2014, and it was mighty fun and mighty challenging.
Amidst my other duties of directing All My Sons, grading projects, and working on some auditions, I'm in this lovely creative incubation stage where the plays and roles are swirling around in my head. I'll probably get a jump on memorizing (particularly Menenius) soon.
More information about this exciting season can be found on the American Shakespeare Center website.
Each year, the resident and touring troupes at the American Shakespeare Center gather for a benefit concert. I've been part of the past three concerts, and they're such a great time. Here are some photos taken by the lovely Lindsey Walters (who also took my headshots) at Miscellaneous Media Photography.
The three shows have been blocked. We're a month away from hitting the road.
It's been a busy, exhausting, and rewarding summer.
Here are some photos of rehearsals and promo shoots for the 2015/16 Dangerous Dreams tour at the American Shakespeare Center. Promotional photos by Michael Bailey. Rehearsal photos by Jay McClure.
Just finished reading Antony Sher's Year of the King--an actor's diary tracing his process of becoming Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I can't believe I hadn't read this before. I had stumbled across Sher's essays on playing Macbeth and Leontes in the Players of Shakespeare series. That is one of my favorite acting resources. The British acting greats share their respective processes and thoughts on playing a variety of Shakespeare characters. It's as if you've been given a chance to have a drink with them at your favorite bar.
Anyway, I finally dove in, bought Sher's book, and devoured it. I learned Sher regularly writes about his process (whether it's for a book or not). The offer for this one wasn't made until halfway through the process. Rehearsing at the RSC in the early eighties is ridiculously luxurious (they had like eight weeks to put up RIII). The squabbles, frustration, and insecurities run rampant. It's comforting to know how much Sher danced a fine line of terror and joy throughout.
Year of the King begins with the tiniest seed that he would maybe play Richard III in an upcoming season. The idea begins to overtake him and the dream state of creating a role begins (even before he accepts the part). A mountain in South Africa reminds him of Richard's deformity. An opera chorus sends him to Richard's coronation. A serial killer in the news gives insight to personality traits and actions.
This is one of my favorite times in the process. A professor of mine called it the incubation period. This is the time when the imagination and subconscious swirl around. Possibilities are endless. You read the play. You might try on a few of the lines. You might stumble across a painting or piece of music that reminds you of the character. The key is that there isn't any formal work being done. I don't say: “Oh, I've got three hours free, I'm going to daydream about playing the Dauphin.” The work and the role aren't at the forefront of the mind, but wisps are present.
I love it.
And now, I'm transitioning into the next phase. I don't know what you'd call it, but it's more active. It's that step between the incubation and memorization. This involves hearty effort in learning the play inside and out. Doing research. I've scanned all my lines of verse. I've completed paraphrasing for The Life of King Henry the Fifth and Julius Caesar. The thinking is heading toward setting down ideas completely. They will likely change, but it's more about committing to the idle brainstorm that was happening previously.
I hope to share more details about the scanning and paraphrase process later on.
It's been a while since I've felt so energized about working on a new set of plays. Part of it comes with comfort. I've been with the ASC for two full years. I get to work with four other actors whom I've shared a lot of time with on stage (a blessing). I'm going on tour again. I'll be with some of the same directors. There's an ease and trust that comes along with this familiarity. And, of course, I cannot wait to meet the new folks and tap into their energy. It's ideal.
The other thing: I'm playing some big roles, particularly Cassius and Jack (in The Importance of Being Earnest). These are dream parts. I feel an affinity for them. I also feel a big responsibility to them, but, right now, I'm pleased to say I'm not intimidated by that.
To say things are busy is a major understatement. In just under a month, the 2014/15 touring troupe of the American Shakespeare Center has worked up Hamlet and started rehearsals for Much Ado about Nothing. This includes a number of fights, dances, and songs.
Let's see if I can give a snapshot of the past 11 days or so:
WEDNESDAY, July 16 - Hamlet dress rehearsal #1
THURSDAY, July 17 - Hamlet dress #2
FRIDAY, July 18 - Preparation for Much Ado Renaissance Run
SATURDAY, July 19 - Day off!
SUNDAY, July 20 - Much Ado Ren Run
MONDAY - FRIDAY July 21 - 25 - Much Ado rehearsal
SATURDAY, July 26 - Day off!
SUNDAY, July 27 - Hamlet dress rehearsal #3
We've had a whole week away from Denmark. I need to review all the intricacies and the music (and make sure I get to bed at a reasonable time so I can be ready to go when fight call begins at 8:15 a.m.).
If you're curious about the shows and our tour, I'll be running the tour's tumblr blog. There's not a whole lot of content up at the moment, but things will pick up quickly. Here's the current tour schedule. Come and see a show!
Read about the production of Timon of Athens I'm in at the American Shakespeare Center and the future of this incredible company. This production marks the completion of Shakespeare's canon. As the ASC celebrates its 25th anniversary, it has made a pass through every single play by Shakespeare at least once.
There are some actors I work with who need only a couple shows and they will have completed acting in the entire canon!
As for myself, I've been in 10/38 since my first Shakespeare play (The Comedy of Errors) in 2007. I'll add two more this fall when I go on tour with Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing (and Marlowe's Doctor Faustus).
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