Sometimes I like to take pictures of something I might usually ignore or find annoying and see what the lens reveals. Case in point: some weeds that are growing around the humongous weeping willow stump. It’s hard to keep that area nicely trimmed and I end up ignoring it. Like a little kid, I figure if I don’t ‘see’ it, no one else will, either.
A close-up reveals such beauty:
If I had any available space on my walls – and I don’t – I’d frame these. They’d make a lovely triptych.
I caught up on my sleep last night, thank goodness. Don had his first day of rehearsal. First days are rather overwhelming. So many new faces; not only the members of the cast, but the designers and stage managers and staff members. I find first days exciting and exhausting. This particular play, Our Town, is starting off the 50th Anniversary season of the Long Wharf Theater and is being directed by the Artistic Director, Gordon Edelstein. Don has worked with him before in a production of The Front Page (gosh, that was one of my favorite productions, ever.) I’ve worked at the Long Wharf as well. It’s a really wonderful space.
Today’s agenda here at home: Work on Act 1 of Hamlet. That means gathering up all my reference books, which are stashed here and there in the cottage, sharpening my pencils (Blackwings, of course), and going at the text, word by word. I make sure I know what every word means. I check the scansion (the rhythm and beats) of each line of poetry. Shakespeare wrote in Iambic Pentameter and those beats give clear clues to the stress and meaning of a line. I look for any abnormalities in the scansion that might be a clue to the character’s emotions. It’s fascinating and painstaking work that I cannot rush. I usually try to tackle an act a day, but sometimes it takes longer than that. Depends on the play. After about 3 or 4 hours, I have to stop for the day.
I do all of this so that when rehearsals start, I am armed with all sorts of notes on the text and know how it should flow. Then, when I work one-on-one with the actors, I can be as of much assistance as possible in helping them find their way with the text and, together, we can work on speaking it clearly and easily, with a full and free voice.
When I work as a dialect coach, I’m usually billed as Voice and Dialect Coach, or just Dialect Coach. But when I work on Shakespeare, I am billed as Voice and Text Coach because the text work is absolutely essential. It’s like working a crossword puzzle. There are lots of clues to be found and analyzed that lead to clarity of intention.
Getting started is always hard for me. I put it off. Perhaps because I’m a natural procrastinator? But once I start, I always become immersed in the play.
Then, maybe a bit of lawn mowing….we’ll see.