Busy few days. Not only rehearsals for Ian W. Hill's Hamlet
, but I've been having to put together and run techs for The Tiny Theater Festival
in my position as Facilities Manager for The Brick
As always, being one of the Lord God King Worriers of the world, I spent a good deal of Sunday night sure that I would be worn out and dead after the next few days, but everything wound up going pretty smoothly and, in fact, enjoyably.
Berit's always telling me, "Don't borrow trouble!" But especially after years working in theatres on the L.E.S. for a boss who never seemed to worry about things that needed
to be worried about, with me in a constant state of stress and depression, worrying for the two of us and the theatres themselves, doing everything I could to make sure the theatres remained a going concern (and failing, though not-at-all entirely due to any lack of effort from me
). I can't help but live, it appears, in anything but a state of assuming at all times that the worst thing that could
happen, and I have to be prepared somehow to clean up the mess.
(Berit says that the worst insult I ever directed at her was calling her by the name of that former boss recently when I was in a funk about something I was sure was going to go wrong and she was trying to stop me brooding about it -- it's true, and was DEEPLY unfair!)
Monday day I went and got supplies that I was going to need to put together the cage for the Festival -- it's a festival of theatre done in no more than a 6'x6'x6' space, so we decided at The Brick to actually build a cage of those dimensions for the pieces to happen in -- well, we thought we all decided on this; it turns out that different people involved had different ideas about what was being discussed (some thought it was to be just a 6'x6' wooden frame downstage), but the cage is what wound up happening. So I got electrical conduit and connectors to make it, and primer to paint it white. Then when I stopped at The Brick to drop off the supplies, I discovered that Berit still had my key from when I was away. Oops. So I left the stuff in the car near the space, and trained up to the U.W.S. to rehearse at Edward Einhorn's place.
The building Edward lives in has a solarium as a public place for residents to use on the top floor. This has come in handy for Edward in rehearsing his shows, from time to time. Unfortunately, they're about to redo the room, which means the rehearsals I was planning to have there this next month are screwed (and Edward will probably have more problems in future working there, as the nice renovations will make the room more popular).
Daniel showed up, and the three of us (and Berit) went over all the Rosencrantz/Guildenstern/Hamlet bits, which were fairly simple tonally, but a little harder than I expected physically -- not easy to block the exact kind of "casual" movement of these three friends around each other. It's mostly there now, in shape, but can't really progress until we're all totally off-book. The movement needs to feel tossed off, easy, but still be rigidly planned.
The arc of the friendship through the scenes became clearer as well -- talk and speculation about their friendship, etc., establishing the whole history for us. The progression of them from two good friends trying to help out an old buddy who's acting weird to two angry members of the court trying to catch a dangerous, murderous madman works well.
Bryan showed up and we did all the bits with R&G and Hamlet and Polonius, together, or near each other. Simple work - first instincts mostly right, just needed focus and specifics to clarify.
Another actor scheduled to show had been working off an old schedule, and couldn't make it, so Bryan and I went on and did the Polonius/Hamlet scene, and then we were able to run a whole nice big chunk, from Polonius telling everyone to get lost, though his meeting with the annoyingly-weird Hamlet, through his leaving in disgust and R&G coming in, though Polonius coming back in to announce the players (and, skipping the players, to the end of scene exeunt of all but Lord Prince Garbagemouth). A good evening's work.
(Sometime I'll explain the whole Lord Prince Garbagemouth thing -- someone refers to Hamlet that way in William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration
-- as it's how I've come to think of the snotty little rich boy, as that or, for short, LPG).
So then, Monday night after rehearsal, back to The Brick (with key this time) to set up for the Tiny Theater techs the next day. Jakob, one of the TT directors, was nice enough to come by and help me with the cage and curtains (there's a permanent, and fragile, set by glass artist Megan Biddle in there for the show The Present Perfect
, and it has to be curtained off for the TT shows) - a big
help, thanks Jakob! - and I was out of the space by midnight.
And back the next morning at 8.35 am (Bryan gave me the exact time - he lives near the space and saw me opening up as he was going to work) for techs all day to 6.00 pm. And, an easy, fun
day it turned out to be, despite all worrying. Three techs, all smooth as silk. And looking to be good theatre, too. A happy productive day doing what I like doing. Can't ask for more than that.
Except a good rehearsal in the evening, which I also got. After worrying like crazy about making it from The Brick to La Tea by 7.00 pm, what with evening traffic and finding a parking space, I was there over a half-hour early.
Then, I worked with Jessi on the big Hamlet/Ophelia scene. This is a difficult one, and we will be continuing to do more and more with it. It's VERY sensitive tonally, and with all the ranting Hamlet does in the show, can't just be another one (well, none
of them can be "just another one") - there's a delicacy to the emotion here, even in high shouty anger, that must be conveyed and dealt with.
Jessi and I had some serious discussion about the feelings of the two for each other, but mainly about Hamlet. As in, does he actually love
Ophelia? There was some slight dissension there, but in the end it came to a good understanding, I believe. I don't think Hamlet is capable of true love, but I think his feelings for Ophelia are just about as deep as true love, his caring
for her, but he's so stunted and sick in some ways -- unable to deal with the combination of the perfect lovely image he tries to keep of her in his head, and his wretched, maggoty disgust of sex itself (and he's certainly
slept with her) -- that his ultimate feelings toward her (especially combined with his new paranoias) are CONFUSED and NOT GOOD.
So we got to a good place to proceed from, but I'm still walking a line of not making it too similar to the Hamlet/Gertrude confrontation that we've already staged -- a lot of the same internal ugliness comes to the fore there, and actually finally
explodes there. So this has to be a particular climax
for Ophelia, a huge break for her, while being a step
on a larger road emotionally for Hamlet that ends in his mother's closet. I had not wanted to manhandle Jessi in this scene, just physically threaten her, saving the grabbing and throwing for Stacia/Gertrude, but in the end, it just didn't seem to work unless I pushed her around a bit (Jessi really wanted to go there, and seemed to need it, and, yeah, she was right). Ugly. And a start. Yes, a hard scene.
Bryan and Adam showed up, giving us the whole Polonius clan, and we did the farewell to Laertes scene, which I've set at dockside, with people bustling by, jostling the conversation. Polonius has to rush through his speech as the ship horn blows, then he and Ophelia have to shout some of their lines to each other as they wave goodbye to the (LOUD) departing liner. Very nice.
I have had a very clear idea in my head for years about the tonal qualities, pace, and attitudes of this scene, so there was some detail work immediately involved. And there will continue to be. The family dynamic was starting to be there by the last repetition.
Adam left and we did the little bit of Ophelia coming to tell her dad about LPG's odd behavior, a deeper and richer bit than I had figured. We got a lot out of it.
I've been thinking about this play as "a director" for 18 years, and thought I "had it down," but the moment actors are up there doing it, entire other levels become apparent.
Especially with Ophelia. She has remained, for years, the biggest mystery of this play for me.
Okay, I could go on, but I have to get back to The Brick and paint the cage white and rehang the curtains properly before the 4.00 pm tech.
I've made up a CD of house music for before, in between, and after the four pieces on the Tiny Theater program. I chose songs that came up in iTunes based on searches for the words "square," "box," "cage," and "tiny." I'll see how many people notice who didn't read that here . . .