ye olde requisite intro

The play is Cymbeline by William H. Shakespeare, produced by Milwaukee Shakespeare, directed by Jeffrey Sichel. 
First day of rehearsal equals sitting around a wagon train of tables going through business and reading the play over carrot sticks and little chocolate donuts, mainlining coffee.  Go around the table, tell us who you are and who you’re playing/what you’re doing/who invited you. So here’s me: I’m Matt Pierce, and I’ll be playing (let me check) Lord II, Roman Soldier, British Captain II, and Brother II.  I’ll be understudying Wayne Carr as Posthumus, and I’m the Education Associate for Milwaukee Shakespeare, working with Education Director Marcy Kearns, wherein I write lesson plans, go to schools and teach workshops, give pre-performance talks and lead talkbacks, that sorta thing.  And I’ll be blogging the show.

Seems like a lot on the proverbial plate to write it all out like that, but in theory I like myself busy, productive, and sharp.  I’ll let you know if that changes into frenzied and frazzled, but of course it all beats unemployed and miserable.  So here is where I will detail “An Actor’s Journey” I think it’s called on the site, and certainly I am an actor.  And this will be a journey in that it will begin at one place and end in another, (somewhere in the vicinity of April 20), and there will be obstacles, discoveries, transformations, and sandwiches. 

There is not, however, a clear or coherent arc visible to me here at the beginning.  This process of preparing a play and definitely this record of it will not resemble a well-made play, not resemble a well-made anything.  Sorry to disappoint your literary expectations. 

I can tell you that one of the things I’d like to do is bring you that Education Associative perspective.

See, when I go into a classroom, the #1 thing I want to do is help students make personal connections with the material they’re studying.  I want them to place themselves inside the circumstances and conflicts of the play and ask how they might deal with an analogous situation in their own lives, and open themselves to new knowledge of themselves and the real world around them through examination of fictional events. 
As the professional artist in the room, I can ask them to consciously make that effort–think! feel! connect!  Get personally immersed in what you’re watching on stage, kids!  Or you’ll get an F.  Or you’ll miss out on an opportunity to delve deeper into the truth and meaning of your own singular beautiful life from the safety of a darkened room. 

That’s actually my wish for every person involved in the performance, artist and audience alike, that we gather together and meditate on this parable that has not one correct answer, but rather many possibilities for response, analysis and reaction.  Like church, but more fun and more free.

So when I’m in the rehearsal room or reading the play, I’ll be looking for those big universal possibly moral/spiritual questions, not only to make my own work as personal and relevant as I’d like it to be, but also to bring up in this forum for people to read, consider, comment on, and come to the play with some forethought and extra potential to be transported by the performance. 

I’ll hopefully also be able to report back from some actual Milwaukee Shakespeare Education programming (workshop stories), and of course you’ll  get the recommended dosages of tales of cast hijinx, moaning about how awful tech week is, updates on injuries, and devastating accounts of life as a 21st century theatre artist in a midwestern american town.  And I’m sure I’m likely to get derailed on a completely irrelevant topic that’s playing in the background of my life.  So please bear with me and my sentence structure.  And if you think you’re gonna read this thing ever again, GO RIGHT NOW and register so that you can post comments, ask questions, suggest topics, etc.  I wanna talk, but I don’t wanna be alone up here.  That’s why I went into theatre, not stand-up or politics.

Okay so, after a grueling first read-through (and so many donuts I’m exhausted), we get a day off tomorrow.  That should give me time to catch up on Education stuff, start looking at memorizing, and drop another entry.  There were about six thousand big and interesting things discussed after the read, so I can dip into those.  Plus this company is full of amazing actors and good people that I can make fun of.  Awesome.



1 Response to “ye olde requisite intro”

  1. February 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Hi Matt! I’m looking forward to the education associative perspective, as you put it. I will incorporate your blog into my lessons leading up to Cymbeline, since reflective writing/journaling is a big part of our curriculum at Rufus King HS. My students are looking forward to your workshop, too. – Adam

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