Saturday, June 30, 2012

Twelfth Night Saturday read-through.

Welcome to the Saturday read-through of Twelfth Night!  We are now meeting the director, Jerrold Scott, and the requisite introductions and background.

So his perspective?  This is kind of a problem play: the major sub-plot is far more interesting to Shakespeare than the plot, Viola is fairly passive as a protagonist, the comedy works itself toward uncomfortable, the play can be a little unsettling.  So it's an Elizabethan version of "Friends."

Major theme:  Escapism.  Steampunk as a metaphorical representation of escapism.  Illyria is Steampunk nirvana; yet the characters are trying to forget the awfulness in their lives.  And escapism is intoxicating; but what happens when escapism gets too serious?

4:25:  "I don't want Twelfth Night to be emo."

4:31:  "We don't want to be clever with concept choices.  The point is the primacy of the text."

4:33:  "Americans are starved for beautiful excess in language.  Language is paramount, language is sacrosanct."

4:41:  Show-And-Tell!  Set design, costume design.

5:02:  "Find the universal in the specific."

5:04:  "We can discover what it wants to be."

Rather than a machete and chainsaw, it's cut with tweezers and pinking shears.

6:18:  Jokes will be noted with a "wocka-wocka!"

6:30:  "I am in love with Antoniolivia!"

Final table reading...please stand by...

Yeah.  This show is going to be hilarious.  Malvolio is taking direct asides to the Stage Manager.  I think Jaime is quite enjoying the attention. Though she is also turning six shades of red....

8:48:  And the sequel is Thirteenth Night, where Malvolio returns and kills everyone.

9:07:  "You're in a great place.  Well, don't want to shoot myself in the foot.  I am VERY concerned..."

9:09:  "You need to jump.  Otherwise, I'll push..."

And we are breaking to start building and whatnot.  Have a lovely evening, all!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tape-delayed blogging for tonight.

7:08:  We are at the Casa de Tromsness for tonight’s session, so we’re going to be non-technology and post all of this after the fact.  So welcome, everyone, and you’ll have all the delightful goodness all at once. 

7:18:  Discussion of the free-market economy.  “Oh, you sell computers?  But WE sell computers, and we’ve done it for a long time.  It would make us sad if you would sell computers.”

7:23:  1.1.  Nothing like starting off the play with one of the more famous speeches in Shakespeare.  Talk about scary.  The challenge of keeping Orsino active rather than languishing in melancholy for the whole play.

7:48:  1.2:  From the Utah Shakespeare festival:  Viola dresses as Sebastian so she doesn’t lose him.  When you never leave the grieving process, the one who is gone can remain indefinitely.

8:10:  The Tromsness dogs will be renamed “Fadge” and “Barful” for the run of this show. 

8:38:  Another famous scene—the Olivia and Viola in 1.5.  Making some good discoveries through this scene, and seeing this one change and develop. 

8:40:  Welcome to the Orsino Internship Program.  This year’s intern:  Cesario. 

8:43:  We fall in love with people who call us out on our crap.

8:58:  Backstage of the Muppet theatre is the most comforting place in the world.  And Jaime likes Scooter because he was the only rational one.

9:06:  The dreaded “Camillo” club:  all the functional characters that get no love.   Horatio, Camillo, Antonio, etc. 

9:08:  It’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts and Wesley!

9:25:  Parallelism throughout.

9:34:  It’s amazing to see the recurrence of ideas in this play.  Music, wet/dry, drink, madness, identity, twins, will, it’s all one.

9:49:  Anne enters, back from the Applied Theatre Conference.  Jayce called it:  when she saw the spread of food on the table, the response was, “Oh, my goodness.”  And Jayce insists that none of it is for potential future midnight snackage.

9:50:  Yay, verse!

9:55:  Antonio, the Pirate Queen.

9:59:  Sebastian gives really good backrubs.

10:06:  Shakespeare understood madness; repetition of the same thing day after day and expecting a different result.

10:23:  Well, that wraps us for tonight.  Relationships clarified, text figured out, and more progress toward a fantastic show.  Good night, everybody!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 27th.

Sorry we are a little late in starting this evening, ladies and gentlemen.  We are in the middle of a photo call featuring several members of the Twelfth Night ensemble; Olivia, Malvolio, Sir Toby, and Feste.  Perhaps we will have an exclusive sneak-peek of the look of Twelfth Night on the blog?

7:21:  Serenaded by Tom Waits singing every song ever written.  Currently, the Tom Waits' cover of "Purple Rain."  It's a duet between Rick and Evan currently, but more might join in with the smoky death-warmed-over aesthetic...

7:23:  Jaime just went for the booty, with the claim that, "It is addicting."

7:26:  Evan thinks he might look semi-attractive in this show.  It's a dream, Evan.  It's only a dream....

7:27:  Don't write things about people when they're sitting right next to you.  Ouch.

7:28:  "Everyone has fondled that booty.  It's close to sloppy tenths by now."

7:29:  Pirate's Booty, the delicious puffed snack.  C'mon, everyone.  Get your minds out of the gutter.

7:33:  Malvolio's costume is reminiscent of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More."  Youtube that song; it's well worth your time.

7:42:  Thanks to Valentine Wolfe, we will have Feste Karaoke.

7:44:  Amelia Earhardt, The Musical.  (Ask Rick and Evan.)

7:45:  1.3 is the starting point.  Toby and the Beagle.  Which, incidentally, would be another good name for a band.

7:55:  Olivia needs a lot of toast.

8:01:  All the definitions and permutations of "accost."

8:01:  Anne:  "Permission to punch the pronoun, sir?"  Jayce:  "Granted!"

8:02:  Rick needs to be an octopus to hit all potential locations of the buttery-bar.

8:05:  Blame it on beef when it's actually syphillis.  Rick:  "Syphillis:  the other white meat."

8:08:  Someone is going to milk someone else.  And we're not going to say who it might be.

8:10:  It's traditional to see Aguecheek wearing a blonde pageboy.

8:16:  Dance to condiment to prostitute to the back-trick.  And Sir Toby's response to that:  "Wherefore are these things hid?"

8:22:  And on to 1.5.

8:43:  A discussion of inductive and deductive reasoning.  Sherlock Holmes used inductive reasoning far more often than deductive reasoning.

8:47:  "I wear not motley in my brain."

8:52:  Caught Malvolio with his mouth full of chocolate.

8:57:  Break time.

9:01:  Jayce:  "Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are both complete dork-nuggets."

9:07:  Jelly Belly face!  Very similar to a pistachio face, but sweeter.

9:16:  "None of us are perceptive enough to notice this kid in drag."

9:23:  The Cambridge gives you the sense of, "Well, if you HAVE to look this up.... Our children know this from the womb."

9:26:  Rhydwyn!

9:35:  "He was going to kill me, and then I left."

10:09:  It's not that we're not updating.  We're just knocking out scenes quickly. 

10:26:  Everyone say it with me now:  "Gorboduc."

10:27:  Sir Topas might be a Southern preacher.

10:30:  We found the moment where Sir Toby is sober!

 10:32:  "I will help you toot."

And we are about to close it down for the evening.  We have to clean up the space and put things in order for the Applied Theatre Conference tomorrow.  So good night, everyone, and back at it tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Twelfth Night, Tuesday, June 26th.

And after a fantastic rehearsal last night, where we met everyone and read 1.1 to 2.2, we are back for another terrific evening of Shakespeare with a motley collection of slightly strange people!  We are starting a little later tonight; but now that the coffee is brewed, the snacks have been safely stowed, and the cast is filtering into the functionally lovely Warehouse Theatre space, the live blog will begin on the first funny thing that Wendy says.  And that is:

6:57:  Wendy:  "I ate at the taco hut down the street.  Bad idea.  I am already starting to feel it."

6:58:  Editorial note:  I don't censor.  I just record....

6:59:  Breann brings a bowl of water in a ceremonial manner.  It is time for the ritual face-washing.  It's a little more difficult since the water is in plastic bottles, but we soldier on....

7:02:  The poof, the first piece of the Twelfth Night set, is here in the space!  And we are now met....

7:04:  Andy:  "I drink coffee for the taste..."

7:04:  Rick:  "I don't need booty."

7:05:  Jayce:  "Steampunk is exploded Victorian."  Discussion of the merger of style aesthetic and technology.

7:11:  Jayce is trying to reconcile being Irish and an Anglophile.

7:16:  Jayce:  "Malvolio loses his mind and comes out looking like 'Panic at the Disco.'"

7:22:  And Jayce is filling us in on all the things that we missed last night.  Things like public/private address, the difference between soliloquies and monologues, pitch bridging, stationing (driving toward the punctuation as if it were a destination), rhetorical engines, and the like.  Still more of the incredibleness that is Shakespeare.  Don't you wish you were here?

7:47:  Rick loves "strumpet."

7:52:  E. M. W. Tilliard, "The Elizabethan World Picture."  A tedious, artery-hardening work that is still fantastic.  Sister Miriam Joseph wrote "Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language," and she peeled the labels off of her beer.

7:56:  Manfriend:  "My very name is a dick joke."  Speaking of Shakespeare, I think, but I also think "manfriend" works just as well....

7:59:  Crystal:  "Lots of people are joking about the Myrmidons in the ghetto these days..."

8:05:  Feste's first song is in the key of "O."

8:06:  The first appearance of Haddaway's, "What is love?"  Feste's song, 2.3.46 in the Arden.  Look it up if you don't believe me.

8:07:  Jayce:  "Orsino would fall in love with a piece of timber if it would let him."

8:21:  Why this word now?

8:33:  It's been three months, and we're already forgetting the characters of Merchant.  "Nerissa and...douchebag, and Portia and...that other guy."

8:47:  Fabian is the Michael Vick of Illyria.

8:49:  "Look how imagination blows him."  No, that's really in the script.

8:58:  Finger puppets can help to explain things.

9:16:  "You should have banged the youth into dumbness."  Also in the script.  (3.2.21 in the Arden)

9:30:  Oh, Shakespeare, you are so meta....

9:36:  Rick (as Aguecheek) is posing during the description of his "valour," vaguely reminscent of some of the choreography from Cabaret.

9:48:  "You are well fleshed."  Again, script.

9:56:  Malvolio sounds a bit like Hepburn.

9:56:  And, Anne just snorted with laughter.  Well, all is one.

10:00:  Crystal:  "Umm, I have a question.  Am I supposed to be a priest?  And a priest of what?  And, am I a dude?"

10:20:  We're starting a band:  Sir Toby and the Lighter People.  Album #1:  "The Whirligig of Time."

10:23:  "Do you want to plug your wiki?"

10:29:  And we are done for the evening.  Another fantastic and fun rehearsal; back at it tomorrow.  And tomorrow, I am not called, so I will be free to live blog with reckless abandon and not have to worry about reading any of the words.  Good night!

Monday, June 25, 2012

It might be Twelfth Night, but it's the first night of table work.

Well, this is a tremendously exciting evning.  We are starting with the first session of table work for the Distracted Globe's summer season, featuring a fantastic cast of very awesome people.  And I hope that through the summer, the 3.5 people who read this blog will become very familiar with their awesomeness.

Tonight, and for the subsequent three nights, the talented Jayce Tromsness will be leading us through text work and table work on this play.  And this will be fun.  I will be your host on the live blog tonight; and since the Rick Connor, the Michele Labar, the Manfriend Boathouse, and several other DG stalwarts are sitting within earshot, the hilarious and sometimes surreal comments will be posted thick and fast (or thickly and fastly).  So, with 15 minutes to start of rehearsal and almost half of the cast assembled, let's begin!

6:52:  Jayce:  "I feel like we're part of a really big, cool, corporation."

6:53:  Rick:  "There are only, like, two actors here."  Andy:  "Yeah.  And both of them are Rick."

6:58:  Manfriend:  "Shut your whore mouth."

6:59:  Evan:  "You've got to choose your kiss-uppers better.  Or kiss-uppees."

7:00:  We discuss the feasibility of Friendster and a MySpace account.

7:00:  Rick was recognized as "the walrus dude."  And chants of "Oosik" start around the table....

7:02:  Jayce opens with a ship metaphor.  I'm not sure how that's going to fit into Twelfth Night....

7:05:  Evan:  "Antonio and the Captain.  My other favorite 50's singing duo.  Remember their songs?  I Love You More than The Barnacles Love the Bottom of the Boat.  And I Love My Dinghy."

7:07:  Stephanie looks at Rick and says, "Buxom."  To be fair, she was reading the Shakespeare lexicon.  Now, she's got the word "brimfulness."

7:10:  Rick:  "I thought we got the good Matt."

7:12:  The mushroom cloud of M&Ms has just been sighted....

7:15:  County square is "a bit of a hoof."  Jayce has always had a way with words.  I think it's the Pacific Northwest in him.

7:20:  Introduction of the 10-minute playwrights:  Reed, Jason, and Stephanie.

7:23:  The history of the Distracted Globe.  Eight years ago, several people were bored in the summer...  We started with improv, but were designed to become a teaching company and started to use scripted shows, classics primarily, based on the skills and talents of the core members.

7:28:  Jayce:  "Why Shakespeare?  It's because we are the odd collectors of relics that nobody else wants.  But I hope that's not really the case.  We are trying to take something that is a little more difficult and make it clear.  We will not dumb down the experience."

7:30:  Rick:  "WWSD?"  In response to Jayce's affirmation that Shakespeare would write in contemporary vernacular.

7:33:  Anne:  "The smaller parts get the bigger costumes."

7:37:  Jayce just said, "Naughty bits."

7:37:  The tools of Shakespeare:  Schmidt's Lexicons, David and Ben Crystal's lexicon (, Cambridge pronounciation, "All the Words on Stage", Edith Skinner's "Speak With Distinction", Shakespeare in Production, Madd Harold's "An Actor's Guide to Performing Shakespeare", "Instant Shakespeare" by Louis Fantastia, Barry Edelstein's "Thinking Shakespeare", and a whole bunch more.

7:43:  Antithesis, juxtaposition, character, conflict.  Language needs to be muscular and visceral.  Nothing in Shakespeare's world can be defined by one adjective.  And Hemingway would have shot Shakespeare on a hunting trip for being too verbose.

7:47:  Image clusters are not coincidence.  Sounds are not coincidence.

7:49:  And Paul just came down off the ladder.

7:49:  Writers get angry when actors don't pay attention to the punctuation.  And Stephanie agrees with a long, low "Amen."

7:51:  Shakespeare is about finding our way to Rick.

7:52:  "Is this about action, or is this about thought?"  Latin versus Saxon.

7:53:  Build into threes.  Fight the temptation to trail off; Americans start at 100 mph and finish at 0.  Need to drive to the end of lines. 

7:55:  Paraphrases.  Close paraphrase:  almost word-by-word.  General paraphrase:  about half the language.  Essential paraphrase:  One word/one sentence.

7:57:  Magic Mamet Moments:  Asking, "So?"  "And?"  "So what?"

7:57:  Operative word theory:  Verbs are king (generic beer-label verbs, naturally), then Nouns, then Adjectives, Adverbs, and pronouns are the worst thing ever.

8:02:  Jayce just used a football analogy in a theatre.  Know your audience!

8:02:  Jayce's pet peeves:  canNOT, sirRAH.  And pronouns.

8:03:  The character is in the diction.  Clues to character are in word choice and in the way they use the words.

8:04:  Thought is the engine; thought is breath.  The breath is the fuel.  Words consume that fuel, therefore the words drive the action.

8:09:  Characters are not super-human; but they are at the highest edge of human experience. They are significant and grander than normal human existence.  It is language as an aphrodesiac.  It is language wearing a lampshade on its head and maybe regretting it in the morning, but it is necessary at the moment.

8:10:  John Barton:  There's nothing sillier than thinking this language is conversation or commonplace.  It's like a one-armed man rowing a boat.

8:11:  And in an hour, we've got a pretty good basic fundamental background of how to work on Shakespeare.  Well played, Mr. Tromsness.

8:12:  Break time.  Back in five.

8:22:  Rick is going from an "O" to now a lowercase "u" and is headed for a "V."  Well done, Rick.  I'm glad you know what that means.

8:23:  Coffee!!!!

8:24:  "Something that causes puckering in certain places."  Umm, really, Jayce?

8:37:  Jayce:  "The meter is the slip.  We don't have to show it..."

9:02:  Was that a line-reading, Jayce?

9:07:  Rain is beginning.

9:08:  Mr. Exposition!

9:21:  Disclosure, Discovery and Decision

9:52:  Feste might be Jewish?  L'Chaim!

9:56:  Jayce:  "They had some sort of 'fool throw-down.'"

10:24:  One more scene, 2.2, and we're done for the evening.  A good bit of table work, lots of good laughs and we'll be back tomorrow night for another night of reading.  Well, let it be....