Archive Page 2


katherine learns to love…again.

So I had an interesting experience during the show today. I discovered something that I hadn’t discovered before. Again, this may make no difference to the audience, or it may. I think it did effect the ending, but again, that’s from my point of view. 

Off-stage I had been thinking about the arc of my character. Every character should change or grow in every play. It’s the actor’s job to find that arc and discover their character’s arc or story and how it serves the larger story. I had thought about the arc during rehearsal, and had come up with things, but as the run has continued I have kind of forgotten it, or put it to the wayside. So discovering this arc today is more for me as an actor, to keep things fresh.

I was thinking about my sister after I wrote the entry yesterday. Jen and I had discussed that my sister’s death is responsible for my resistance to the idea of falling in love, my skeptical opinion of the men, and my general desire for a light, good time (except in my work, of course). So I went with that today, as usual, but that leads me, if I stick to it unfailingly, to a character without a whole lot of arc. If she starts that way and ends that way, what has changed for her?

So today, at the proposal, Katherine was suddenly face to face with the idea that Dumaine’s love is serious; that it is possible that he truly loves her. This, first of all, is a total shock. She has pushed love away for so long that she had no idea it might show up for her. But the sudden appearance of this possibility of real love could also have the opportunity to open her heart. And when the Princess accepts (with a test) the love of the King, Katherine is sort of given the permission to take this situation more seriously (by someone she respects). And so, although she cannot accept Dumaine’s proposal in this instance for many reasons, she is suddenly taken by the idea that this love is possible. So that last exchange between Katherine and Dumaine isn’t necessarily just plain skeptical, but it is inviting the opportunity for love to come in the future. That doesn’t mean that I think they end up together, but Katherine is changed because of what she experienced. She is open to the possibility of what could happen. 

Perhaps that all seems slightly corny, but it just goes to show what an actor can discover during the process, and how those discoveries can keep the story and the character fresh and interesting performance after performance without harming the integrity of the story. So heap on the corn. I’m not afraid.


i do this for the people.

I realize that I have been slightly delinquent in writing these blog entries. I do apologize, as I know many of you depend on me just to have the will to get out of bed in the morning. To have the strength to breathe and face each new day. The fact is, I haven’t been quite sure what to write in these past few days. The show is really running itself. People are playing more, being silly, and some bits and characters are growing more complex. 

Those pieces of text that I had trouble with have become second nature to me now. Like breathing out and breathing in. I was just speaking to my parents about that section with my sister. I am very glad that I made the choices I did about that section. I still find it very interesting, and I find the audience response very interesting as well. At that brief moment, the bottom kind of drops out of that scene. Not only does it foreshadow the end of the play, but adds this layer of the uncomfortable to a group of people that, up till that moment, have just been running around and having a lot of fun. So in a way, it was a difficult choice to make. It creates this great moment for Rosaline and I, where I really express this admiration for who she inherently is as a person, it always makes me a little teary, and then we kind of have to dig ourselves back out of the serious and into the silly. That moment where I decide to tease her and we enter into this “witty banter” section is Katherine’s way of lightening the mood, telling everyone it’s ok, and all the women getting back to their good times. But what is interesting is that the audience is so quiet in this section. Perhaps they are sitting back in their chairs and thinking “What the heck?” but they seem to be taken in by the moment. 

Other parts I continue to think about. At the first few performances, I think I was pushing a little bit, to make sure that Katherine came across as a definite character and not a set dressing. Now I feel like I’m letting it go, but every once in a while I wonder if she is still coming across as clearly. And once I came off stage after the first scene and said to my dear friend Julia, “Did that speech just seem like nonsense?” She assured me that it didn’t, but that thought does encourage me to continue to look at my speeches to make sure I am still communicating the sense before anything else. I don’t want to muck up the story with bells and whistles.

It is also a challenge to continue to stay in the moment. Let’s face it, I could do this show now with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. The costume designer might not like it, but it’s possible. So it is so important to continue to listen and to observe and to experience instead of just going on auto-pilot. What helps me is to continue to notice different things in my scene partners, and to find new moments to connect with them. The second you start thinking things in your own head, you start to leave the immediate moment. It’s always your scene partners that bring you back and help you discover how to be where you are. This play gives me plenty of new things to find in every show. There are so many dang people that it is easy to discover more things in each show.

I know Paula loves to hear about my sleeping habits, and now I must to bed. By the way, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to join the conversation. Unless you have a negative comment. In that case I suggest you comment on Kevin Rich’s blog.


the juvenile and the jaded.

We began our series of student matinee performances this week, and it was so interesting! It is interesting to see how a student audience reacts compared to an adult audience. I mentioned in an earlier entry that every audience is different, but I think there are some things that an older audience would find more entertaining, and some things a younger audience would find more entertaining. 

For instance, no one laughs at the virgin joke! I must admit that that is very refreshing. To know that some of the sexier jokes and pot jokes can still go over the heads of kids, some of whom are teenagers.

And it is also so exciting to see how involved most of them are. I think the concept of this show really helps to bring kids that have never seen Shakespeare into the play. At one of our student matinee talk-backs a teenage boy raised his hand to tell us how much he enjoyed the play. He said it wasn’t anything like what he expected. We asked what he expected. The audience all mumbled that they were worried it would be boring. To be able to present this play to high school age kids and younger, and to have them be involved in and enjoying the story is really amazing. I mean, if you happen to read this play, there is so much that is really difficult to grasp. Even for a Master of the Fine Arts like me (I go by Master Emily, if you didn’t know). So to have a concept that doesn’t dumb the play down, but takes it into the world that we are living in today–that is a truly amazing help for everyone in the play and everyone watching the play. 

The other thing that is fascinating is the response of the student audiences as compared to the adult audiences when we ask them questions about the play, especially about the lovers. When we ask a student audience if the men were really in love with the French women, almost all of them stand up (in agreement). When we ask you jaded adults, we consistently have less than half standing, sometimes none! The kids also think that all the couples will follow through on their year long promises. The adults? Not so much. Of course, my opinion tends to go along with the adults. I guess we’ve all been burned before, huh?

It may also have something to do with the fact that all of that evidence that the men might not be so honest and trustworthy is easily brushed aside when the kids see the couples cuddling and enjoying each other. I mean, if you look at most romantic movies, couples go through horrible things and still take each other back. This sense that love is so concrete and, in a way, simple, is something that is pounded into our heads by modern culture and media. Hopefully they haven’t had enough experience to refute this image yet. 


a winning way with words.

So having a run of this length allows me to keep discovering things after opening. Not that I could suddenly decide that Katherine is a mute, or a prude, or a nun, but I have been discovering further shades of my character. 

One thing I learned in graduate school (you hope to learn at least one thing [I, in fact learned many]) was to trust whatever reaction I had during a performance and to use it. Don’t ignore the fact that your scene partner is really pissing you off, because you may just find that it has more to do with character to character interaction than actor to actor interaction. Besides if it is useful, and you block it, you could be blocking off a whole set of instinctual responses, which causes your performance to be, well, boring. Again, this doesn’t mean that if your scene partner happens to step on your foot that you can just belt him in the mouth, but it does mean that every response you have may have validity in the piece. It must be through the filter of character and given circumstances and all that, but by this point that stuff is fairly automatic. 

Anyway, last weekend I noticed that as Katherine, I was really irritated with Berowne. I mean, I just wasn’t impressed by anything he was saying. I thought about this off stage and started to realize that this makes a lot of sense. Now this doesn’t mean that I have some sort of vendetta against Berowne, or that I intend to punch him in the jaw, but it goes along quite well with my cynical response to their first offer of love and to my career, etc.

As you may remember, Katherine is an author. She is amazing with words. So amazing, in fact, that she stumps two people in the play with her word-play. First she gets Rosaline (Rosaline’s response to her is “What is your meaning, mouse, of this dark word?” and “We’ll need more light to find your meaning out.” Then, in the masque scene, she completely baffles Longaville (and, as I hear from Julia and Jarrod, she baffles Maria and Dumaine as well.)

So I believe that part of the reason she dislikes Berowne is that he fancies himself a word-smith and she finds most of his banter lacking in some way. Not to mention his speech in which he declares he will only use simple means of wooing (no flowery words or courtly antics) in a sonnet. A sonnet, I tell you! I believe, as Katherine, that I could beat him at word-play very quickly, but he’s not really worth my time. As Maria and Boyet say of him, “Not a word from him but a jest” “And every just but a word.”

By the end of the play they are all shaken, and this is no longer a factor in the scene for me, but before that moment it is. It clarifies my relationship to a person that I have obviously met before (in the text it says he was at the party where I met Dumaine). I played with that today and found it to be successful. Now, no one probably notices unless they are very specifically watching me, but anything that makes your performance more specific is a good thing. 

Perhaps by the end of the run it will be a vendetta. One can only hope.


ladies with good behinds.

The second weekend of performances is off to a great start. We’ve had the joy of playing to two full houses. One of the great parts of having a run like this, is that you are able to sense the different feel of each audience. Our first weekend we had some boisterous crowds, but one laughed more about physical humor and one laughed more about the language and word-play. This weekend our audiences have been quieter, more contemplative, but very warm and engaged. As an actor you can feel the energy from the audience, and you can tell when they are with you or not. So far, all of our audiences have really been with us. It’s a good feeling. It lets the work just sail as it is.

Sometimes, if the audience isn’t with you, you get tempted to push a little. Pushing is just what it sounds like. Instead of being in the moment, in your character, you give a little extra to make sure everyone gets it. You push in an attempt to connect to the audience, but pushing always (and I mean always) turns the audience off rather than on. It’s not unlike your needy friend that gets uncomfortable when she’s not the center of attention. She may say funny and witty things, but she’s just a little too loud and pushy. It’s reacting against the audience rather than synching with the audience. 

I’ll add just one performance anecdote to the end of this blog. Today in the last scene, I was watching the Nine Worthies with my dreamy beau, when I felt my sunglasses slipping off the top of my head. I took them off to hang them on my dress (as I usually do at some point), and suddenly one of the arms came off in my hand. Well timed, glasses. So then I hung the bulk of the glasses on my dress and casually put the arm into Jarrod’s pocket. I knew there was a reason to have men around–pockets.


understudies, away!

So today we didn’t actually have a show, but we had two major events. The first event was our first (and only) understudy rehearsal, or, as I like to call it, topsy-turvy day. We had a three hours to make it through the whole play. First we got to ask curious questions like, “What do I wear if I have to go on?” If you don’t fit the original costume, you get to wear your show clothes. Mystery solved! And they do try to help you back stage if you actually go on. At least they say they will…

But we made it through the whole play! It went pretty well. It was fun to play, but it did feel a little awkward turtle to be going through it for the first time already memorized and knowing your blocking. Like an alternate universe. I’ve never understudyed before, so even though I had all my lines down and knew the blocking, I wasn’t really sure what would happen. I also wanted to get Molly’s intentions, etc, without actually imitating her, which I think I accomplished to some degree. Although I apparently have NO idea how to hold a hunting bow. But I could learn that in a few seconds if Molly (and I quote Leslie here) “went down”.

All in all I was surprised by the fairly relaxed atmosphere of the rehearsal. The purpose of the rehearsal is to make sure that we are all ready to go on if we need to be. So it was laid back. Everyone was doing the best, but no one was out to impress anyone. That was my favorite part. That and Nick’s fabulous take on Jarrod’s Dumaine. Bravo, my good friend, bravo.  

The other event was “An Inside Look” into the “nookie” scene. That was pretty fun. I got to learn some things about the other actors’ back-stories and struggles that I had been previously unaware of. You know, Dumaine and Katherine are just so hot-to-trot that they pretty much just want to get it on.

The audience had some great thoughts to share too! And, most importantly, I got to meet one of you blog readers! It’s good to know you actually exist! Thanks for reading! I love exclamation points!


out, out damn (lipstick) spot.

So today I had a fairly interesting experience. It was $12 night (power to the people). We had a good audience, very warm and responsive, but more contemplative than rowdy. I had had the day to relax, do yoga, run and such, so I was really ready to go.

And everything felt pretty smooth. The first scenes went swimmingly.

In the nookie scene I didn’t see the light (our cue to exit) in time and almost ran right in to the next couple. I guess I just got carried away? Is that what happened? Anybody? Perhaps I took too long to stalk him in the beginning of the scene. Anyway, after our quick escape (right in front of two children, by the way), we had another tiny snafu…at the end I give Jarrod a little friendly pat on the butt. Jen told me at our last rehearsal to wait until both of my feet were on the platform, but Jarrod had already made it to the door and so turned around at the same time I was smacking him. Luckily, nothing untoward happened, but I suppose I should have a contingency plan just in case. One good smack on the wrong side would cure that problem, I should think.

Anyway, the main event occurred sometime during the Russian masque part of the last scene. I was fine on my way in, I even had Julia check my lips/teeth, but after the Russian section I felt like I maybe had a little bit o’lipstick on them there teeth. So I did a little bit of licking during my laughing on the boys’ exit. Then, when we regroup for their reentrance, I was able to turn my head away and rub it off with my finger. But through the rest of the scene I was keeping tabs on it. Now, this does not necessarily take me out of the moment, because there’s no reason Katherine can’t have the same problem. People may have noticed, however, that Katherine was more orally fixated this time around than normal. Maybe that’s why she got along with Dumaine even better than normal…

Now it’s time for two days off! I am off to visit my lovely friend in Iowa City, Christine Ziemer. And to look at my understudy work. We have our understudy rehearsal on Thursday. I like to think of understudy rehearsal as kind of a grab bag of actors and characters. We will mainly have the same actors, but they will all have different roles! Like opposite day! Or upside-down day! Or…crazy-switch-roles day…