Twelfth Night, Sixth Post: Fourth Day

Dear Friends,

I fear these numerical titles of mine are becoming confusing and mildly obnoxious, but just bear with me until I get to write “Twelfth Night, Twelfth Post,” okay?  Because it’ll be SO FUNNY!

My call was brief today.  We “tabled” (short for “did table work on”) Act II, Scene 1, my first scene with Antonio, played by Todd Denning.  Table work is generally pretty cerebral (read: we totally geek out) and I love it.  Present company included Todd, myself, director Paula Suozzi, text coach Gale Daly, and project intern Erin DeYoung.  We sat around for an hour, dissecting our scene.  We discern the meaning of the words and put the scene in two contexts: that of the play, and that of the character’s lives.   We try to figure out, using clues in the text, what the relationship is between the characters in the scene.  Something that helps me a lot is to determine, as a group, the “moment before.”  That is, what the characters were doing RIGHT BEFORE the scene starts.  So take our scene, for example.  Here’s how it starts:

SCENE I. The sea-coast.



Will you stay no longer? nor will you not that I go with you?


By your patience, no. My stars shine darkly over
me: the malignancy of my fate might perhaps
distemper yours; therefore I shall crave of you your
leave that I may bear my evils alone: it were a bad
recompense for your love, to lay any of them on you.


Will you stay no longer? nor will you not that I go with you?


So the first thing we notice is that the scene begins with the characters in mid-conversation.  Which is why it’s helpful to determine, collectively, the moment before.  We concluded that Antonio has been trying to talk Sebastian into sticking around, but that just at the moment that the scene begins, Antonio figures out another option: if Sebastian won’t stay, he could go with Sebastian.  So in the line, “Will you stay no longer? nor will you not that I go with you?” we determined that the latter half of the line, is new information.   Antonio comes up with the idea of going with Sebastian right when he’s saying it.  Identifying things like this really helps shed light on how to deliver a line.

Like I said earlier, it’s painstaking work: it took us the full hour to get through the relatively brief 43-line scene.  But it’s so helpful: it’s the time for the director, text coach and actors all to get on the same page about the meaning behind this frequently dense language.

I’m going to talk a lot more about text work throughout this blog– there’s a technique that Paula likes to work with (not exclusively, but, as she puts it, “when it helps”) called the First Folio Technique that I want to discuss at length– but for now, there are some Buca di Beppo leftovers from my birthday dinner that are calling my name.  (Not literally calling my name, of course, because that would mean they’ve spoiled, now wouldn’t it?)  Eggplant parmigiana, here I come…



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