June 12, 2019
Day 18: Day Three without Taylor…..
The dryer ate my bra. This is an impressive feat. Tuesdays are the day for laundry and running the dishwasher. In preparation for the housekeeper who comes on Wednesdays, naturally. (Such a strange reaction I have to someone coming to tidy up: I must tidy up before they come.)
One of my few demands about an apartment in NY is that it have its own washer/dryer situation in the apartment. This one feature alone cost an addition 2k. (I kid you not!) Which breaks down to $400 a week. It seems that my hourly rate is quite something: if I spend two hours a week on laundry for five weeks. that’s about $200 an hour. Hm. Maybe I can use that figure when I negotiate my salary next time.
Anyway, it’s one of those mini-stacked ones with the dryer on top of the washer. It doesn’t allow you to wash and dry at the same time, however. So I find myself drying clothes at night. (Which is a distinct memory from my childhood: my mother always did the laundry late at night, so there is something comforting about the sound of the dryer to me.) I crammed all the wet clothes from two loads into the dryer and went to sleep.
I opened the dryer this morning, and there was half a bra dangling from the rim of the dryer. Hadn’t I ever learned to clasp the bra together before drying it? And Nordstrom would be horrified to know that I did put my bras in the dryer in the first place. (Well, I’m just going to march down the street to the Nordstrom Rack and get a new one. They should be happy about that!)
I haven’t quite figured out how the wire in the bra snapped in the middle.
Oh well, our second company breakfast is this morning, and I don’t have time to worry about bras.
I’m spending a lot of time these days – and why this blog is days behind – editing some of the scripts. If it weren’t for a deadline, I wouldn’t get anything done, that’s for sure. And so it is with some of these busy playwrights. At least one-third of them have been lured to Hollywood since they got the assignment to translate a Shakespeare play. And it is no minor feat that they carried through on their commitment. They are very busy. There isn’t a playwright who isn’t writing at least four other scripts on commission. It is very Shakespearean, I think. Who knows the real order of when Shakespeare wrote these plays? I feel more and more certain that he was working on several at the same time. I don’t know how one punches out four plays a year for 20 years. They don’t come out on a conveyor belt. I don’t think it’s Shakespeare the Robot we admire.
Taylor will be coming back tonight, and not a moment too soon. You’ve got a target on your back if you sit in the hospitality suite. It’s great fun when all the rehearsals take a break at the same time, because people gather around the snack table. But it’s not such great fun when we discover there are errors in the doubling schemes. Where in the play is Lord #2? That actor can’t be those two characters because they talk to each other in the same scene. And there seem to be two actors assigned to the same role. Oops. That’s sloppy. I don’t like it when my sloppy math disrupts process.
The doubling schemes are being put together rather quickly, and are a relatively new concept for us in Shakespeare production land. Typically, we see productions of Shakespeare with 17 people on average. And I just don’t think there were 17 people on stage 400 years ago. (And not just for economic reasons, although Shakespeare was a producer and actors do cost money, so don’t tell me he wasn’t somewhat pragmatic about all this.) The structuralist in me believes that the doubling was part of the writing. I assume that Shakespeare wrote characters that matched his acting company skill sets, but I also think there is something else being set up through the doubling, and I’ve talked about this in other blogs.
How we arrived at the doubling schemes for these plays, however, was a group effort: we had the Brett Gamboa book for reference; we had casting charts from previous readings and workshops; and the playwrights and directors have their own about how this might work. One of my theories about wanting playwrights to take on these translations is that they were going to teach us how they work dramatically, and they would have different reasons for not only the doubling but also where to take the intermissions.
While we try really hard not to get caught up the heat of the moment, we don’t always take a final look at our math. So many people – from our casting director Ada to playwrights, directors and dramaturgs, to Taylor, to me and back and forth many times, threads do get unraveled. And so there is some unraveling to do today.
Which kept me out of the rehearsal rooms for most of the day. But I do know that Merry Wives graciously gave up their time on the CSC stage for H4.2. Because of the performance schedule, and in particular in the second half of the week when there are three matiness, half of the play readings won’t be able to use the CSC stage as their rehearsal. You may remember my comment yesterday about the scale of the storytelling in H4.2 and how it was busting out of room 3A.
Meanwhile, back in Windsor, the playwright, Dipika Guha, has arrived, fresh in from the writer’s room in Hollywood. She immediately jumps in and starts cutting and shaping some things. Merry Wives may be the toughest play because it is predominantly prose. And long sentences which make it hard to land the joke. The cast is working hard to get up to speed on this one, and cuts hither and yon are very helpful.
The best thing that happened while sitting with a target on my back in the hospitality suite is that Mya Gosling walked in. She is the genius comic artist behind Good Tickle Brain. Check out her three panel Shakespeare on her website: www.goodticklebrain.com. We invited her to come play with us this week, and she missed Monday’s reading of MUCH ADO due to a thunderstorm. But she’s here now, and she will spend most of the day hanging out with us, chatting with cast members and looking through the stack of translations.
“Good tickle brain” is spoken by Falstaff to Bardolph in Henry IV part one and Mya has been teasing playwright Yvette Nolan about changing it to “good dram-drawer.”
While sitting there chatting with her, Olivia Negron, one of the actors in our company, hands me a copy of “The Classic Slacker reads Moby Dick.” This is more relevant than she might know, because Tasso Feldman is giving Fenton a slacker veneer, which is opposite than the usual earnestness. The Classic Slacker book is hilarious too.
We begin our third week of readings tonight with Henry 4.1. Yvette and her dramaturg Waylon Lenk really wanted to explore different Falstaffs in these two plays, and during the course of assigning directors and casting these readings, we forgot about that request. At one point Lisa Wolpe had been assigned to direct the reading. Waylon reminded us about their wish, and so we switched Lisa into the role of Falstaff. As it happens, in that crazy synchronized small world that the theater is, director Lavina Jadhwani was going to be in town to hear some of these before she headed to OSF to cast her production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, and Taylor remembered that she knew the play really well, and so we said, “Hey, how about you direct this reading?” And she, being the ultimate good sport, said, “Sure.” Sometimes you’re good, and sometimes you’re lucky. I am very very lucky.
The deal, however, is that she can’t stay for the actual reading tonight, as she had to get to OSF yesterday. But they did her proud. It was lively, and funny, and super charming. The contrasts between the public performance of being Hal and him letting us know, from his first monologue in that play, how aware he is of performance, was chilling. In the right way. Often these contrasts that are part of the plays are glided over quickly. But they are integral to our understanding a complex world.
Here’s the note that I sent to the cast afterwards:
“Oh, the histories have it all!!! I swear if people could keep track of who is who, who is on whose side, and what the beef is, they’d realize that these are like The West Wing, with Dynasty thrown in.
And i felt that engagement from the audience last night. From jump, they were leaning in and following all the shenanigans, political and otherwise.
I also felt a great spirit of camaraderie and joy from within the company. And that was also felt by the audience, which I think that relaxes us somehow. It is one of the many things I am interested in examining further with these texts: sometimes i feel you as actor working really hard to make the Shakespeare text clear to me, and i grow tense as you do that. So i’m wondering if both sides are a little bit more relaxed hither and yon, does that help me stay more focused and engaged? Just a theory…..
Meanwhile, you have set the pins up beautifully for them to be knocked down tomorrow in part 2.
All’s fair in love and war, they say. And all’s fair game in Shakespeare, that’s for sure.”
Tomorrow: Let’s knock down the pins!