21
Feb
08

Puppies!

Day Two of tablework, and I get an ocular headache–too much staring at text and screens, too much coffee.  Still, this is cool–going through the play painstakingly to make sure we know what’s being said, to whom it’s being said, what the subtext under the said things is, and also to add and subtract things said in the form of cuts and restorations to the script.  The goal of storytelling I talked about last time has been made explicit, manifested in rounds of “Telephone,” wherein the cast will take  turns summarizing what’s been read so far in their own words, supplying corrections and additions as necessary.  Jeffrey wants to make sure we know exactly what story we’re telling before we get on our feet, which will aid in knowing where/how individual scenes fall into the whole, as well as the sequence of this story as it winds through locations and plot twists.  From convolution to clarity in just three days!

This also helps me Education-wise to hear the play again and continue to fish out Big Ideas for our talkbacks and my workshops, for which I need to cut scenes for students to read.  The cutting process is always instructive–how can we take this mass of text and reduce it to its essentials without killing too much poetry and active language that will engage audience and fire up actors?  We’ve got a union time limit to fit under as well.

Actor-wise, I have to give it up to Andy Truschinski playing Arviragus, who is sitting next to me at my table.  He helped me get a line restored that is already my favorite.  One of the roles I play (which are thankfully getting streamlined and clarified as we go) is a Lord to Cloten, the son of the Queen who has married King Cymbeline and is angling for the hand of Cymbeline’s daughter Imogen.  Problem is, he is “worse than worse report,” and the Lords who follow him think so too. They placate him to his face and insult him behind his back, and that’s a lot of fun to play.  At one point, after a particularly dunderheaded exchange between the Lord played by Stacy Hicks and Cloten, I blurt out “Puppies!” which the Shakespearean lexicon informs us is “a term of contempt implying stupidity.”  “Puppies!” was initially cut, but when Andy spotted it and brought it up, Jeffrey generously let it back in.  Now I have a catchphrase I can use on stage and off whenever I encounter stupidity, which alas is all too often in our modern world.

 Or perhaps the Second Lord just spotted some puppies on the street and is exclaiming his joy for the cuteness at hand.  Shakespeare does not give us many stage directions, I always tell my students, so it is up to us in our tablework process to make those decisions.  Perhaps I can check with the props department to see if this is a possibility.  Perhaps I need to get away from the table.

puppy051.jpg 

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