collisionwork: (promo image)
Or: What I was trying to do with this Hamlet, at least in part, at some great length.

Tonight is the final performance of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet - a bittersweet farewell. I wish I was doing more shows, hard as it is, but that's not possible, so this is it. Maybe again in August, 2008, when Equity would allow me to do it again with the AEA actors I have in it under the Showcase Code a second time. But for now, no more.

It has been the realization of a longstanding dream, and one of the hardest goddamn things I've ever done. The rewards of it just barely outweigh the time, effort, energy, money, and emotional battering that have gone into it. Just barely. And at times, for hours even, they haven't been worth it at all.

But it IS worth it, and beyond, when I come into contact with the people who've seen it, who got what I was going for, and who appreciate it. Then it doesn't all seem like a waste of time and energy.

Rick Vorndran, of the Dysfunctional Theatre Company, came to the show on Tuesday, and wrote me a lovely email this morning, which became an extended email conversation about the show - and exactly the one I needed to have this day, to stave off the pre-post-partum depression that begins to show up as a production is fading away.

Here's what came up (with some slight editing):

Hey Ian:

Just wanted to tell you how much I really enjoyed Hamlet. I don’t give this complement often, but I thought a lot of the direction and acting was hitting Off-Broadway levels. Some of my favorites:

The script edits, particularly getting away from the introspection that’s coming from the strong acting anyway, (including cutting the most famous monologue in the English language!)

The subdued performances of Polonius, Gertrude and Claudius – particularly Claudius. It was pretty nice to see a Claudius who looked like he was conflicted about his own selfish desires AND trying to do what’s best for the country, as opposed to chewing scenery. Plus the three of them balanced out your more selfish, less introverted Hamlet.

The shameless use of Nyman/Greenaway music (yes, I use that music a lot too)

The very political end. Executing Horatio, an invasion while those selfish fucks at the top fiddled, words obscured by violence, etc. Not at all influenced by current events, right?

Pretty dang good use of your platforms for staging. My favorite was the dock with waves SFX. The players/theater set-up was a close second.

There’s more, but those are my favorites. If you’d be kind and provide me with your mailing address, I’d love to send you a copy of a show CD I got in England in 2001 - Hamlet! The Musical! Admittedly, a bit different than yours – they had a cast of 5. (My favorite was having Claudius & Gertrude play the Gravediggers). You’ll get a kick out if it.

Again, thanks Ian. Really enjoyed it! - Rick


Thanks so very VERY much for the kind words. This show has gotten a wide range of reactions, not all of them good or getting what I was going for (two bad reviews, which I haven't read, but had described to me, and can't read right now, or maybe ever, for my own peace of mind), and it's been heartening to have the people who did get what I was going for say so to me, to remove that hanging cloud of depression that keeps threatening when I often think "I've been working on this for years and years, and I wasn't clear enough, and I blew it."

I'm especially glad you mentioned the work of Bryan, Stacia, and Jerry as Polonius, Gertrude, and Claudius. I'm very happy with all the acting in the show but those were very important, detailed, rich, and worked-on performances, most central to the whole concept, that were designed to be different from the norm, and very very subtle and ambiguous. The problem being that this, to some eyes, simply becomes "a lack of a clear choice" as opposed to "a specific choice towards ambiguity" (though the actors and I had all worked out what REALLY happened, for us). Bryan, at least, got a nice write-up in the
Voice, I'm told.

Thanks for mentioning everything else that you did, too. You hit on a few points that I've been wondering whether I made the right choice about (particularly in cutting so much of the "introspective" monologues and asides to use as internal fodder for thoughtful acting), and the more I hear responses like yours, the better I feel. And I am indeed a shameless repeat user of Michael Nyman's Greenaway scores (there's a bit of
The Piano and I think Ravenous in there too, as well as the single he did with The Flying Lizards during intermission) -- I just haven't yet found other music that works for me the same way, and I'm glad some other fans out there dig it.

I don't normally get nervous or stage-frighty about my work like this, but this show has been different, and I haven't been able to have the same "This is my work and screw you if you don't like it" attitude that I normally do with it, for whatever reason (a friend I haven't seen in years, one of the first directors I ever worked with in NYC, was at the show the same night as you, and said in response to this point, "You don't think you get to do
Hamlet for free, do you? A price must be paid.").

So every thoughtful word about the piece is a great kindness to me right now, thank you.

hope to see you soon, possibly at your fund-raiser (if I'm not dead from this show or in the midst of the four ones I have going up at The Brick in August, one of which opens two days after your event), best,

[and a PS where I asked him about posting these emails and gave him my address for the CD]

So the four of you worked out what REALLY happened? Intriguing. I got the sense that Old King Hamlet (like his son) was a bit of a dick, and killing him wasn’t entirely unjustified. Plus, I really got the sense that Gertrude didn’t know much of what really went down, was trying actively NOT to find out, and is much more worried about running a country (thus she’s often at the desk).

Oh, loved the scene when Laertes comes back, and Claudius calmly puts him down, mainly because you just don’t shout at the frigging king, no matter what’s going on. Really subtle, really nice. Got the sense that Claudius is really worried about things spinning out of control, and what it would do to the country.

And Bryan? Geez, just incredible. That role has just as much baggage as Hamlet.

Feel free to post on your blog, and pass my compliments onto the cast. Again, you’ll get a kick out of the CD’s. The songs are, well, pretty much everything you cut out.


P.S. Yeah, on the cuts, you don’t need an aside of Claudius saying, “Oh no, she’s drinking the poison cup.” :) Nice choices there.

Yup, bingo on all counts -- our thoughts about Old Hamlet, his death, and Gertrude, as well as Laertes and Claudius' dynamic (and Claudius' fear for the country). Oh, SO glad some people get this!

The big thing that came out in the rehearsal process for this production, even after all the years I'd spent working on the text, was the idea of "what it is to be Royal," and the duties and obligations that come with that, which became central to Jerry, Stacia, and myself, as the Royal figures. Too often, Royal persons are directed and played as to be "just like us," the "unvalued" as Polonius puts it -- they are NOT, merely through training and environment, and actors must, as Steven Berkoff notes in his book on
Hamlet, not try to "pull" these figures down to their level, but raise themselves up to a Royal one, with the understanding of what that entails.

As came up in conversation last night with someone, a lay Shakespearean scholar, also at Tuesday's performance (who was back to see the other
Hamlet in the Festival), as we rehearsed we more and more realized that, Ghost or not, Dead Murdered Father or not (and of course, in our production, it is "not", but still . . .), Hamlet, as Crown Prince of Denmark, does NOT have the right, for the good of his Country and its People, to indulge in his squalid little revenge, which does, of course, basically end his country as the Denmark it was. Though I have as yet found no evidence of anyone before me playing Hamlet as such an outright bastard and villain, albeit a sometimes charming one (there MUST be, right? in all these hundreds of years of people doing the play? there HAS to be!), my interpretation apparently falls quite in line with a certain, and growing-more-popular, scholarly point of view on the play -- which is not something I'd normally be interested in, but it makes me glad to know that there are others who have seen the Bastard Hamlet (as I call him) that lurks in the text.

Anyway, I'm going on, and probably only because I now have half an eye aimed on putting this on the blog. I'll just go do that now, and again, thanks for the praise and the impetus to actually say something about the thing.

best, Ian

Last thought for the blog: Particularly notable was the end of the first half, with your Hamlet seeing the invading army of Fortinbras: Being a sharp and astute prince with good political instincts, he knows that you don’t gather an Army like that for Poland, you gather it for a country like, say, Denmark. That’s a point that escapes Ros and Guild. Yet, the selfish prick still says, screw that, I want my revenge because Daddy told me to do it. And Saddam . . . er, Claudius tried to kill Daddy. I mean, killed Daddy. No, no political relevance there at all.

And liked the choice of using either the Branagh music, or something really like what he used in his movie Hamlet, to underscore, for the exact opposite effect. It’s selfish, not noble. Hamlet should know better.

And maybe nobody’s really tried a Hamlet like this before, because nobody could believe the son of a former leader could be so stupid, selfish, and politically dense. Nope, not topical at all. Dang, I wish I woulda thought of this.

Oh, thank you - again you got exactly what I was trying to get at there!

And . . . uh . . . yeah, that music under that scene is one of my favorite dark "jokes" in the show -- it's the London Symphony Orchestra performing the classic American "traditional" rock-and-roll revenge song, "Hey Joe" (hee, hee) as Hamlet looks out at Fortinbras' army and gets THE EXACT WRONG LESSON FROM IT. And so he goes and metaphorically buys his blue-steel .44 to come back and shoot his woman (shall we say, Denmark?) down.

It's funny how these things come together at the right time - I've had this conception of
Hamlet kicking around my head for 18 years or so (the director who came the other night, who directed me as Marlowe's Faustus 15 years ago, remembered clearly many of the concepts I had for the show that I had talked about back then that he had just seen on stage), and yet suddenly I get the chance to put it up, and boy howdy is it the perfect, topical time, right?

again, thanks for making the points so I can comment and expand on them rather than just write an essay on my blog - the dialogue is more interesting than the monologue . . . best,


One more thought:

Is it possible that (a) Old King Hamlet was a despot, (b) C and G felt they had to get rid of him before he completely ruined the country, (c) G realizes the throne will likely pass to another selfish despot unless she acts quickly, so (d) marries C so they both can start reforming, but (e) don’t appreciate the threat that Hamlet poses until it’s far too late? They may not even be intimately involved, except as partners.

Pretty cool interpretation, if that’s the case.

This is a variant that was definitely discussed among us (I guess we didn't decide on everything that happened EXACTLY, but we had some branching possibilities that led to the same emotional places). Either Old Hamlet was a despot or going mad himself (his son gets it from somewhere), and very likely, as I mentioned yesterday on the blog, a wife-beater. Gertrude may or may not have been involved in his death (we pretty well decided "not") but knows that whether it happened or not, it's better for the country at this point that Claudius be King, with Norway threatening - Hamlet will be King someday, NOT NOW, but when he and the country are ready for a more "peacetime" King. Claudius and Gertrude do indeed care about each other, but their partnership as King and Queen does come first (at least for her, she being Queen first and foremost above all).

The great sad moment for Gertrude is when she looks at Hamlet in the bedroom scene and says, "Alas, he's mad" as she realizes that her son will NEVER be fit to be King of Denmark, and who knows what the hell they'll have to do now?

It was wonderful in rehearsal to go through these bits and have them fall into place and just feel like everything MADE SENSE.

okay, putting this all on the blog now - and maybe I don't have to go over any of this there ever again . . . we'll see . . . best, IWH

Never go through it again? Dream on.

Thank you, Rick. Dysfunctional Theatre, creators of the wonderful I Am Star Trek, written by Rick, and which I hear may come back to an NYC stage somewhat soon, is having a benefit event on July 30, as mentioned above. Info is HERE

collisionwork: (promo image)
Good performance of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet last night, despite starting even later than our opening night -- the 7.00 pm show, supposed to run to 8.00 pm before our 8.30 pm scheduled start time, ran to 8.37 pm by my watch, and they had a killer breakdown that meant we didn't get started for over a half-hour after that. Not good, but amazingly, the audience was with us, even with the wait and the horrible heat. And we gave them a good show - first time I was actually comfortable up there as Hamlet, I have to say, unfortunately. First time I left the director (and actually, more importantly, the producer) of the show completely behind me.

Or maybe the Vicodin I took for some hideous neck pain helped.

Had a nice email exchange this morning with Brick Theater Grand-Poo-Bah Robert Honeywell (whose wonderful show, Every Play Ever Written: A Distillation of the Essence of Theatre, got a great and deserved review in the Times today), regarding the performance. Here it is:

very interesting show last night, sir. you made some fascinating choices, and I don't think I've ever disliked Hamlet so much (that's a compliment). very curious about you cutting the 'To be' speech -- I was hungry for it, and maybe not getting it was exactly what you intended. and beautiful staging esp. for the Laertes departure at the dock and the 'Hamlet, where's the body?' office scene. and I liked the choice of never showing the ghost -- I got the distinct sense that Hamlet really might just be crazy, from start to finish (it's obvious that even Horatio doubts his story), which is I assume what you intended. it might be the first time I've seen a 'Hamlet' that left me doubting whether Claudius actually did kill his brother, though he certainly intended to kill young Hamlet at the end.

Thanks. Yeah, the crazy Hamlet is very definitely meant to be there, as well as the possibility that Claudius didn't kill his brother. Glad you got all that. Not everyone does, but those who do seem to be on board for the whole show - if you don't like or get either of those ideas, as well as my choice of being Bastard Hamlet, which really throws some people, you're not going to be with the show at all.

But the crazy Hamlet, who may be dressing up in his father's clothes and wandering the battlements in a fugue state, as well as the possibly innocent Claudius, were always crucial parts of the production -- though Jerry then decided that Claudius HAD killed Old Hamlet, and we went on to basically decide together that Old Hamlet NEEDED killing for the good of Denmark, that he was in no shape to hold off Norway, and may have been going a little coo-coo himself (his son's lunacy possibly being genetic, and from dad). Stacia brought in playing the bedroom scene as a woman who is not unfamiliar with being battered around by a man, which says something else about Old Hamlet (and I was pleased that at least two audience members, strangers to me, "got" this and personally pointed it out to me without being prompted).

We had also batted about the idea as to whether Claudius actually did ask England to kill Hamlet, or if Hamlet was making that up too (perhaps just out of his own paranoia) - maybe he had just asked England to keep him under guard in a nice tower somewhere and never let him get back to Denmark. But Jerry again decided that for Claudius, it would still be way too dangerous for Denmark itself to let a mad, murderous Prince roam around at all, and, with a heavy heart, indeed signed the death order.

A little surprised about your reaction to the "To be" cut -- most people thus far (also to my surprise) have been really appreciative of it's absence, or more just agreeing with me, saying, "You didn't need it for this version." And, yeah, I think it would have been out of place for Bastard Hamlet.

The cast and I had a great time filling out this very different way of looking at the play - and I'm glad that the people who "got" it did so, and seemed to dig what we did.


Onward to August, and the NECROPOLIS 0 - 3 series and The Hobo Got Too High by Marc Spitz. Beginning to get the research materials together again for World Gone Wrong. It looks like only half of the original cast will be returning, and the newcomers will need a bit of background immersion in noir, as we did the last time. I really hope that this time I can show the cast, as a group, six films in three double bills to sum up the particular aspects of the genre I'm aiming at in this piece:

Double Indemnity
Force of Evil

Point Blank

Lost Highway

Damn, but then I get into all the other ones that are so important to me for the piece -- The Killers (both the '46 and '64 versions), Kiss Me Deadly, Out of the Past, Brute Force, The Seventh Victim, The Big Heat, Criss Cross . . . well, the list goes on, but those are all probably the big important ones.

I can loan out my copies, as I did last time. And I need to find which actor still has my DVD of D.O.A. from two years ago.

Busy, busy, busy. Maybe I can bother with a postmortem on Hamlet in a few days, but I have to deal with the future right now. July is gonna be a bit crazy, getting the August shows ready. Keep moving forward.

collisionwork: (comic)
I'm in an odd mood. Kinda up, kinda depressed.

It's looking like it will be impossible to extend Ian W. Hill's Hamlet at all (actor schedules), so these 4 performances may be it until sometime far off in the distant future. At least 2008, maybe more if I want to bring back the Equity actors, as I think I have to wait 18 months before I can use them again in this under a Showcase code again. Damn. The most expensive show I've ever done, some of the most stress and hard work, and that's it. Four shows. Damn. Maybe I can work it out. But almost certainly not. Damn.

August is shaping up, though. It looks to indeed be parts 1-4 of the NECROPOLIS series and Marc Spitz's The Hobo Got Too High. I got some nice emails from Marc today about doing his play, which were very encouraging and full of praise for my original production in 2000, so I feel good about that. That's good.

But I still need to recast a whole fistful of people from World Gone Wrong - not so much a problem, but some people who were both originally in that and in one or more of the other shows going up have said they only have time to do one of the shows, and so I'll have to recast even more of the other shows than anticipated. So it goes, but it gets me down a bit.

So, to cheer up, more movie watching tonight. I got through the Nic Roeg films yesterday as planned, but didn't get to the Godard films. Maybe I will a bit later. I needed something else first, something that will always put me in a good mood.

So I've put on one of my favorite guilty pleasure films, Patrick Swayze in Road House.

However, to attempt to make it less of a "guilty" pleasure, and as I'm replacing the planned Godard films, I am watching it with the French dub track turned on and English subtitles. Wow, it's an Art Film!

Maybe after this, I'll move on to Contempt, but for now, I'm enjoying the antics of Swayze, Ben Gazzara, and Sam Elliott en francais.

collisionwork: (promo image)
Yesterday, my body finally gave out for a while. It was about time. Since the show on Friday, I'd still pretty much been going and going in my waking hours, so I guess I needed it. Still do. Still on the downward slide right now.

This happens with some shows I'm in/performances I give. Even 15 years ago, when I played Marlowe's Faustus, I'd spend half of the next day in bed recovering, even more than with Hamlet, though I was much younger, lighter, and in better shape (Faustus was actually a more demanding role than Hamlet). I dunno. I'm better at not knocking myself out quite so much onstage as I used to be, but I still need to keep working at being in the shape to handle this with actual strength rather than adrenalin.

Again, the show went great on Friday, and we had a great, friendly house. A couple of old friends of mine, Sean Rockoff and Julie Bennack, came to see it, and we had a good talk about the show afterward (and since then, by email) where they made it clear that they got everything I was trying to do with the show, which always feels good. Sean may even come back and see it again, which means he really dug it, so good on me.

Saturday was my birthday, so I got birthday wishes by phone from the various groups of family, then B&I were off at Daniel McKleinfeld & Maggie Cino's yearly birthday bash/cookout at Daniel's - originally a B-day party for the two of them, now expanded to all of us June babies. We were there from something like 4 pm to 1 am, and the party extended back a couple of hours from that each way. Most members of the cast of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet made appearances, as well as most other members of this little tight-knit corner of Indie Theatre, at some point in the afternoon/evening (as well as [ profile] rezendi, who's a friend of Maggie's).

Maggie (who's in the show) insisted that I had to talk to another friend of ours who saw the show on Friday, Robert Ooghe, about it, and I spent quite a while happily listening to Robert tell me everything he got from the show, which was EXACTLY everything I WANTED anyone to get from the show, right down the line, without me having to say anything. Now, that's a way to make me happy - give me an audience member who knew nothing about the show going in, who enjoyed it, and "got" it, without me having to hit them over the head with anything. Happy birthday.

So, good party, good food, good drinks, good company.

Sunday, off to Ossining to see my father and stepmother and her mother and stepfather for Father's Day, Dad & Ivy's anniversary, and Berit's and my birthdays again. Another good party, good food, good drinks, good company. Home again, very tired.

Yesterday, over to The Brick to releg two of the platforms from Ian W. Hill's Hamlet for Q1: The Bad Hamlet. They wanted to use two of my three platforms, but at different heights (I have all mine at 2', they wanted one at 8" and one at 18"), so I made up different legs to put on - in return, I get to use their coffin and skull. I tried to make up the legs as interchangeable, ready to be bolted off and on easily, but it wound up being difficult to make the legs all work that way, so I'm just screwing them off and on. Actually wound up being easier than anticipated, even with having to paint the legs for them to match the platform tops (we use a fabric masking around them for our Hamlet).

Came home, meant to sleep (felt like I had to) and instead wound up watching John Boorman's Point Blank and Richard Lester's Petulia (photographed by Nicolas Roeg), which are a perfect and amazing double-bill of Brit New Wave directors working in the USA in the late '60s (even sharing a number of San Francisco locations). I was going to move on to Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance, for a perfect stylistic trilogy, but Berit wanted to play Guitar Hero on the PS2, and I couldn't stay awake anyway.

So, today, lounging about in a dazed haze. Everything seems to take too much effort. Picking up a cup of coffee. Typing (this has taken me over four hours to get together). I thought I had to work at The Brick tonight, but no, I checked the sked and it's tomorrow I'm on from 6-11 pm, so today, lying back with relaxing film -- I've got Performance going right now, and will follow it with Roeg's Bad Timing, and then Godard's Masculin Feminin and Tout Va Bien.

Danny Bowes once had a laugh at my expense when I mentioned on here that I was having a special "relaxing-at-home" day with a Jean-Luc Godard film festival -- he said that I needed a lesson in how to actually "relax." Well, this is relaxing for me. Actually, now that I've realized I don't have to be at The Brick tonight, maybe I'll throw in The Man Who Fell To Earth, and Contempt for that all day and night, dreamy, non-linear narrative state of mind . . .

Then, things to do the next few days. I've decided that the best plan for the shows to do at The Brick in August would be to bring back the entire NECROPOLIS series to date: NECROPOLIS 1&2: World Gone Wrong/Worth Gun Willed plus NECROPOLIS 0: Kiss Me Succubus and NECROPOLIS 3: At the Mountains of Slumberland, both short pieces, as a double bill. These would alternate as the "main" shows, with late shows (and possibly matinees) of the also short The Hobo Got Too High by Marc Spitz, if Marc will let me do it. Plus I want to get a few more performances of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet in, if possible.

So, I have to check again with the cast of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet about their July availability.

Check with Actors Equity about what I'll be allowed to do, and within what time period, as far as an extension.

Check with Marc about Hobo.

Check in with the 10 members of the cast of 21 on World Gone Wrong who have said they can and want to do it again, recheck with the 7 company members who haven't responded, and recast the 4 people who definitely can't do it.

Check in with the people still around from the other NECROPOLIS shows if they're interested and available, and recast the parts where they aren't.

Fix up the apartment, which is a hellhole, as usual during production of a show. Worse now, as I now have an secondary A/V system lying around in pieces all over the place (given to me by my brother as he's got a new one), including a huge 35" Sony Trinitron in the middle of "the living room," all of which needs to be arranged somehow, especially before my mother comes next week to see the show and will be staying with us (a good excuse to be forced to clean up).

But that's tomorrow. For now, I'll sit back and enjoy The Man Who Fell to Earth and other states of mind.

Oh, and some amusement courtesy of a link from [ profile] sarahlangan, my answer from The Classic Leading Man Test (and I do have more than enough ego to say . . . yeah, seems about right . . .):

Your Score: Humphrey Bogart

You scored 45% Tough, 4% Roguish, 38% Friendly, and 14% Charming!

You're the original man of honor, rough and tough but willing to stick your neck out when you need to, despite what you might say to the contrary. You're a complex character full of spit and vinegar, but with a soft heart and a tender streak that you try to hide. There's usually a complicated dame in the picture, someone who sees the real you behind all the tough talk and can dish it out as well as you can. You're not easy to get next to, but when you find the right partner, you're caring and loyal to a fault. A big fault. But you take it on the chin and move on, nursing your pain inside and maintaining your armor...until the next dame walks in. Or possibly the same dame, and of all the gin joints in all the world, it had to be yours. Co-stars include Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall, hot chicks with problems.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the Classic Dames Test.

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I'll tell you this - the only performance that makes it -- that really makes it - that makes it all the way - is the one that achieves madness, right? Am I right? You with me?
Hamlet & Yorick #2


Jun. 16th, 2007 11:18 am
collisionwork: (tired)
So, second performance of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet last night - not nearly so rocky, felt really good, very appreciative and fairly sizable house. Yay!

Came home to find the first review out. Not good. Oh, well.

I won't link to it until after the run, as I did with Martin Denton's on That's What We're Here For. I haven't actually read it in its entirety, but skimmed it fast down the screen to get the gist, catch the adjectives, and put it away. I don't want to see that right now. I can't deal with that. Maybe ever.

Berit read it in full, and gave some comment on it, as did a friend, who emailed to say that he thought the reviewer "sounds like he is mother f'n hellbent on pursuing a personal vendetta against you!" He's not, man, I know him slightly socially, I'm sure I disappointed him, I've already written my "thank you" letter to him.

(I've probably mentioned it before, but it's a good piece of advice, so I'll pass it on again - the one piece of personal advice Richard Foreman gave me when doing the ForemanFests was to ALWAYS write a personal thank-you note to EVERY reviewer who comes to see the show NO MATTER WHAT kind of review they write. Richard is very VERY sharp and canny about these things, and I've felt this has indeed helped me in keeping a good relationship with the press - they seem to remember my name, at least. Though I wonder what Richard's notes to John Simon - who really DID have a "personal vendetta" against Foreman for years - must have read like after a couple of decades . . .)

I don't feel so bad after Berit's rundown of the review, as his problems with the show were primarily conceptual, rather than regarding the rocky and unsteady performance, and, well, the concept stuff is the concept stuff. It's my show, and even at the rocky opening night, it still said what I wanted it to say the way I wanted to say it, so, yeah, if you aren't behind it, that's it for the show -- though the unsteadiness of the beginning of that performance in particular may have not been confident enough to "sell" the style of the show right away; we may have needed to hook 'em and drag 'em into this world better, right away.

So it goes. I've had bad reviews before, I'll have them again. Same with raves. The show is good, and the audience was fully with us last night, so I'm good. Two more performances, hopefully more. I love working with this company, and on this show, I want to keep it up as is possible.

But we have one more review coming, which, I fear, will be in the same boat as the one we just got. {sigh}

Anyone have any suggestions for getting stains out of brick? At our tech, some of our stage blood sprayed onto the brick wall of the theatre that gives it its name (normally, it would spray onto a piece of paper hanging there, but we didn't have that paper for tech). Afterwards, we tried cleaning it up with what we had around the theatre, but liquid hand soap and paper towels don't do well on rough brick. We came back a day later with stronger cleansers and brushes, and got most of it off after about 5 or 6 scrubbings, but there is still a very slight stain left there (this is not helped by the fact that the cleaning is making the brick around the stain much brighter and less dull).

This blood comes off anything, and out of clothing, like it was never there, so I'm surprised at how persistent it is on the brick (porous ceramics are rather different, indeed). I suppose, because we waited a day, thinking it would just sit there on the outside like so many other things we've had to clean up at The Brick recently (taffy, gum, clay), and of how it comes out of clothes after several days sitting there, that the time it spent there let the dyes sink in. A "foam cleaner" has been suggested. Any ideas?

Anyway, I should go and deal with other things today. It's my 39th birthday. I'm going to a general birthday backyard BBQ party that Daniel McKleinfeld and Maggie Cino run every year for the members of this group of friends with June birthdays - Maggie and Daniel in particular, but also Berit, and me, and a few others I think.

Last time I played a major classical role was 15 years ago this month, when I turned 24 while I was playing Marlowe's Faustus. Last night I saw someone from the group of friends that put that production on (though he wasn't involved) at The Brick to see another show, who I hadn't seen in about 12-14 years. He's trying to rustle up some of those old friends to come and see my show later this month, so, that would be a nice way of getting back in touch with them.

More soon. (oh, and sorry about no cats or random ten two weeks in a row -- too busy . . . oh, hell with it, I'll do a random ten as another entry right now . . .)

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
I needed some production photos quick for publicity purposes, so I asked some of the actors who live near The Brick to come by last night and get into costume and get some photos after the shows were over. Gyda Arber and Bryan Enk were able to make it - and thanks for the loan of the camera and for uploading the shots to Gyda.

So here's some of what the show pretty much looks like. Here I am as Hamlet with Enk as Polonius (". . . conception is a blessing, but not as your daughter may conceive . . ."):

Hamlet & Polonius #2

With Gyda as the Norwegian Captain, talking of futile war:

Hamlet & The Captain #2

And the two of us again, looking out on the Norwegian troops being sent to their deaths in Poland:

Hamlet & The Captain #3

And finally, the shot you have to get, Hamlet with Yorick:

Hamlet & Yorick

Now, a rush. Shower and shave, off to Staples for new programs, off to Big Apple Lights to exchange a loaner piece of equipment with our repaired one (the "brain" for our practical dimmers), off to The Brick to put the piece in and then practice for a few hours. I'm feeling good, though Berit and I were at The Brick fixing tech things until 5.00 am again last night (this morning). Now to keep this up through the show.

collisionwork: (twin peaks)
I am still feeling a little odd about our opening on Tuesday.

I think I did divorce myself pretty much entirely from the producer/director bag while I was doing the show, and was there only as the actor playing Hamlet - in fact, I even left the theatre for a few minutes to catch my breath and not think about the show, but just my part in it, at the beginning of (our) Act II, specifically trying to be an actor and not a director -- this is also the point in the show where the actor playing Hamlet gets a (comparatively) sizable rest, which I think of as the "Burbage Break." I can just imagine Richard Burbage complaining to Shakespeare, "Christ, Bill, I've been going full blast for an hour now, can't you send me off to England or something for an act, have Ophelia go mad and kill herself, and give Armin some funny business in the graveyard before her funeral to kill some time? I really need a pint and some food after all that hugger-mugger before I come back on for the killing." Bill's an immensely practical playwright when you're dealing with him from the inside.

I think I did okay as an actor. I wasn't bad at all, but I can be better, easily. It was the first time I ever felt really good about the "rogue and peasant slave" speech, which suddenly took flight for me. I felt I had the manic, crazed side of the whole character down really well, but I lost a bit of the stiff preppy prig I've been working so hard on. But not bad. In my nervousness, I went up on a few words and/or lines that I never have before, but I didn't stumble, plowed on, and got through it.

But as a result of my concentration, I don't have much of a sense as to how the whole show actually went, or how the audience took it. We started late (very late) and ran long, it was damned hot in the theatre, there were some especially shaky moments at the start of the show, and it seemed to take them a while to warm up, but there was a point where I suddenly felt, "Okay, I've got 'em." And, eventually, the laughs started coming in the places where they were supposed to (it's hard to judge if people are being affected by the dark, nasty bits, or if they're just tuned out, so laughter - there are LOTS of funny bits in this tragedy - can at least signify engagement). Thankfully, no laughs at all in places where they're not supposed to be.

But I can't tell really how it went, and I'm not sure how the other actors felt (some were happy and effusive to me, but I'm paranoid, and tend to think they were just trying to cheer me up).

And there are other reasons not for public consumption leading to a more-than-average amount of stress, worry, confusion and depression. Of course, that's part of my normal state post-opening (it gets worse post-run), as all that time and work finally comes out . . . and . . . now what?

In any case, I was brought out of that unpleasantness and into a state of bliss for a time this morning by this video - another one of those "things I saw on TV once years ago and have remembered ever since" items for which I bless YouTube. In this case, a piece of Sesame Street that I remember from the original airing sometime in late '72 or early '73.

I think I still have the 7" single of this I got as a result of this appearance and played over and over on my little plastic turntable. It's still one of my favorite songs (and one of Berit's, too). Here's Mr. Stevie Wonder with "Superstition":

One Down

Jun. 13th, 2007 02:46 am
collisionwork: (elephant man)
So, we opened Ian W. Hill's Hamlet tonight. I've now played Hamlet.

Afterwards, one of the actors asked me how I felt, and I said, "complex," and I don't want to go into it any more right now. I'm coming down off the adrenaline high that's been keeping me going for days. I need to crawl into bed and pass out for as long as my body says it needs to.

But I wanted to thank everyone for their comments and emails. It was appreciated, to feel that support.

Thank you.
collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
I am tired. I am weary. I could sleep for a thousand years.

But tonight I'm playing Hamlet.

Tech last night - I got home at 5.30 am, and don't really feel like dealing with computer, internet, etc. right now, but I should say something as I get ready today.

I've been thinking about this show for 18 years, working on it for 15, one way or another. Now it all comes down to bare practicalities. Will this work? Will this work? Will we have the paper for the set that UPS hasn't delivered yet or have to run frantically and find a substitute of some kind? Will we have time to make the stage blood? Will the transitions actually work as smoothly as they did last night (which wasn't always the smoothest but was amazing considering how little work we've been able to do with them)? I have to finish the program. I have to go over my part again. And again. I have to remember to thank people who should be thanked. I have to keep trying to remember things I've forgot and do it without torturing myself into anxiety. I have to edit down some sound cues and lengthen others. I have to make up press packs, just in case. I have to do the laundry for the cast to get the stage blood out (tasty stuff Berit's made - it's the peanut-butter/vodka based mix - I think there's chocolate in there, too). Berit has to pluck my eyebrows and maybe - will we have time? - do my roots.

It's a tech-light show for me - only 69 light cues in 91 pages; usually I average 2.5 light cues per page - my sound cues (lettered, as Berit does) only go from A to SS (I have, in a 50-minute play, gone from A to QQQQ), but some of the tech that there is is a bitch. I was surprised at how easy tech went, actually, though surprised at how long - though, no, I didn't keep the actors there until 5.00 am, Berit and I (and Aaron Baker, who stayed to help, thanks Aaron) had to spend a few hours painting the set and cleaning the theatre after we finished. The blood did not completely come off the wall - I hope it isn't a problem for the one day at The Brick it's there; we need an abrasive brush and more powerful cleanser. Comes out of clothes just fine, but sticking to brick? Not so good.

Aaron reminded me late last night, "Eighteen years, right?" So, I should feel like I finally achieved some long-standing dream. But all I can deal with is what has to be done for tonight.

Though I looked at the stage over and over last night and kept thinking, "This looks GOOD." So maybe it is. Different for me, I guess - Berit says it's "cleaner" than usual. Peter (Bean) Brown said the same at the act break, that he's used to my "junky" sets (noting that he likes them, as do I) and that this looks like "money." Whatever. It is what it is.

I think it's good. I think it works. There are bits, tiny, brief bits, that don't, where it's my fault and something isn't working (one bit - mesmerizing in rehearsal, was lying there like a lox with the tech elements added; maybe it'll be different tonight). But altogether, it works. It does what I want it to do - sometimes not at all in the way I've been figuring on for years, but it a better way.

It works. That's what should concern me.

I hope some of you see it, I hope you enjoy it. If you read this, you know where to find it.

I have a massive headache. I'm going to go soak for a while and get ready. I need to leave the production world for a while and get my actor bag on. I'm playing Hamlet in eight-and-a-half hours, dammit.

collisionwork: (robert blake)

Thank you for everything. I'm typing up the program, and just wanted to mention that.

I'm also getting all the last props. In typing it up, I thought I had typed "rubber bands" and looked up to find I had typed "ribber nads" without at all being aware of it.

I may be a little exhausted.

Okay, off to buy a recorder and mic cables to be cut . . .


(PS - and above, where I now have "rubber bands" I first typed "rubbed nads" - make of that what you will . . . I'm cracking up . . .)

collisionwork: (harold. bob)
Quick notes before bed.

Nothing for a few days now. Nothing but Ian W. Hill's Hamlet to do. No cat blogging. No random 10.

The cards, incredibly, showed up today. We weren't guaranteed delivery before next Tuesday, which would have been disappointing, but they left Louisville, KY at 3.34 am yesterday (Friday) and arrived at our door at 7.09 pm. Nice. Folks, I highly recommend for postcards. Really. The work is good, the interface is easy, and they are indeed FAST.

Tonight, Qui Nguyen staged all the fights, including the final foil duel between Adam and I. It will be great, once Adam and I practice it as much as we can in the next few days. The other fights are all now cleaner and better, too.

Tomorrow, Karen Flood shows up to work costumes, and we run the show as much as we can. And then Adam and I run the foil duel. Again and again.

Sunday, Berit and I run around and find or buy everything we don't have for the show yet. After 10 pm at The Brick, we build and paint the platforms.

Monday, we tech all day and night.

Tuesday we open.

Wednesday, I stay collapsed as long as I can until I have to work at The Brick that night.

I DO love this life. Sometimes it's hard to remember why.

Berit is winding down now with her birthday present from her parents, Guitar Hero II for the PS2, so she is rocking out with her own bad self. Apparently, according to the game, her "needle is all the way in ROCK!" Oh, wait, this is adorable, Hooker is rubbing up against her legs and ankles, being all luvvy as she's trying to rock with "You Really Got Me" and she's yelling at him and he's just loving her more. Awwwwwwww.

I will shortly wind down by climbing into bed with my script and a can of Moxie and going over my lines again and again. They're all in there - I've run all the scenes on my own multiple times without mistakes, but I keep screwing up on my feet, doing it. This has to stop. Now.

But we are happy - everything is getting done and will be ready on time, if only just, but it's going to be there.

More when I can handle it.

collisionwork: (mark rothko)
Lots of emails back and forth between Berit and I as she finalized the postcard.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. I won't post another version of the front, but the final version - which may be the same as the last version I linked to, I'm not sure, is HERE.

Here's the final for the back:

Ian W. Hill's Hamlet - postcard back

4x6". Glossy on both sides. Let's see how fast we get them. Unfortunately, it'll probably be Monday . . .

collisionwork: (goya)
Now in Maine.

I'm getting caught up on tons of emails I missed getting the last two days, and Berit is sending me revisions of the card front and back to check out.

She's fixed the card front a bit from its appearance in my last post, making the text less "computery," and it can be seen HERE.

She's been working on the card back now, and it's a pain with all the text and stuff that needs to go on there, but she's working it out. I'll post that once we have a finished version, as I should have done with the front (I was just excited to see it and share it).

Here's another version of the "card front" image, framed differently to be used for promotional purposes, etc.:

Hamlet Promo Image


Jun. 6th, 2007 07:53 am
collisionwork: (philip guston)
I'm about to drive off to Maine to get my teeth taken care of - accompanied today by Aaron Baker, Ian W. Hill's Hamlet actor and friend for 24 years, who was going to New Hampshire near I-95 himself and could use a lift.

Rehearsal last night until 10.30 pm, then work at The Brick. Got home at midnight.

Only rehearsed Act I - getting late, and it didn't feel worth it to keep everyone especially late. Scattered energies (including my own, I guess).

Berit stayed up most of the night working on the postcard for the show so we could send it out today. Here's what we have now:

HAMLET postcard #1

I'm sure I bore people saying it, but I do have to keep remarking on how amazing it is to me, with this show that I've been considering for 18 years and working on (and least textually, off-and-on) for 15 years, to see ideas I've had bouncing around in my head for so long actually coming to fruition. I had the idea for the design of this card sometime around 1994, and here it is, pretty much as I've always imagined it (except I always saw my head more at an angle, and the fire and text levels are more recent additions to the fantasy).

I don't think Berit has the back done yet, so I'll have some notes for her when she's up about typography. Usually, with something like this, I have the design, Berit accomplishes it with her mad Photoshop skillz, then I go in and do the type layout and processing, as I'm very critical of that -- from 4th to 9th grades, I went to a school with a working print shop where you could take "Print" as an elective; I spent years putting movable type into composing sticks and eventually working my way up to linotype machines.

With this trip north I won't be able to do the type myself, so before I fell asleep I wrote out what info needed to go on the card, and where, and in what typeface (Bank Gothic). Now as I look, it needs some filters on that title there, but I wouldn't know what until I played with it. Something to take away the computer-sharpness a bit. I'll call Berit from the road (she's quite out now) and mention it (if she hasn't read this already).

Okay, Aaron's arrived - we should be out the door soon. Next time in Portland.

One Week

Jun. 5th, 2007 08:53 am
collisionwork: (sign)
In a week and a little under 12 hours, I'll be onstage playing Hamlet.

I'm not off-book yet, but I'm close, and I'll be there. I'm spending about six hours on it today. That'll get me almost there, but probably not quite.

We have four more runthrus scheduled, tonight, Friday, Saturday, and Monday, the last a tech-dress with the full cast - the only time we'll have the full cast before we open. Tonight we're only down one actor, so that's good. We might lose one of the runthrus to deal with fight choreography, costumes, and props (either Friday or Saturday) with, respectively, Qui Nguyen, Karen Flood, and Berit.

I am anxious, but in an odd way. I am anxious that I am not more stressed about the show. I feel like I must be forgetting something and there's something else I have to do, but I think we have things under control. We have to build the platforms by next Monday, finish the postcard and send it out tonight, get the rest of the props (there aren't nearly as many as usual in one of my shows), finish the sound design, buy the fencing equipment, and . . . oh, there must be other things. Berit has a list . . .

But we seem to be together. I just have to get my lines down. Tomorrow I drive up to Maine to get my teeth finally fixed, back late the next day or early the following.

Sent out another round of press stuff and the promo email to my list.

Berit made up scale diagrams of the set positions for the cast in Photoshop - we won't get to work the transitions until tech, so I'd like them to have as clear as possible an image of what things are supposed to look like. Moving everything around at scale also made it obvious that certain plans we had as to where things were going to go will not work, and we had to fix them. Here's some of the settings in this form - a, b, and c are the three platforms (2' high, one of them 6x3.5', the other two 7x2'), d is a writing desk, and e is a step that can be placed by the platforms. The other shapes are chairs and a mic stand. Other lines are the curtains at The Brick, and several hanging 4' pieces of rust-colored paper.

Here is Act I, Scene 3 (our Act/Scene designations), the "dock" where Laertes says goodbye to Polonius and Ophelia:

HAMLET Act I Scene 3

Act I, Scene 7 - the office/hall in Elsinore where many scenes happen:

HAMLET Act I Scene 7

Act I, Scenes 9-10 - the play within the play and aftermath:

HAMLET Act I Scenes 9-10

Act II, Scene 4 - the graveyard:

HAMLET Act II Scene 4

You can see in the last that we had to shift things a bit to make way for the coffin - it was delivered by Gaby and Nick to the space yesterday while we were there, and was larger than anticipated. Ah, well, it'll work. We have a coffin. Great!

Okay, time to finish up the morning's online business and get back to lines. I've got a week to become a proper Hamlet. Almost there. Almost there.

IWH as Hamlet, closer

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Jun. 4th, 2007 10:15 am
collisionwork: (leland palmer)
And har-de-bloody-har.

Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended

Just the kind of humor I needed right now. Really.

collisionwork: (sign)
The Pretentious Festival has opened. Look on Our Works, Ye Mighty, and despair!

Now I have a week and two days to get Ian W. Hill's Hamlet ready. Well, we're pretty much okay. I have lots of things to do, but time to do them in, pretty much:

The postcard (mostly in Berit's hands now - we have the image, she has to do the processing/layout from my design, then I do the typography).

Building the platforms - I thought more shows in the Fest wanted to use them, but it seems like it will only be mine and Q1: The Bad Hamlet unless others grab them (Q1 is wonderfully reciprocating by letting me borrow an Ophelia coffin and a Yorick skull) - I'm making two new 2x7' platforms and reusing the 6x3.5' top of the Temptation bed and putting 2' legs on them (though I'm making the legs removable for storage purposes and so other shows can leg them at different heights; I'm making legs for Q1 of 8" on one platform and 18" on another).

I have to go through the potential music I've put aside and settle on certain music for certain scenes/transitions and get the sound effects together - some stock, some to record (I need to have the music settled for the dumb show by Monday, when we rehearse it again to put it to whatever music I pick).

Get the last of my lines down - I'm almost there.

Get the fencing foils, masks, jackets, gloves (and the fight choreographer) in.

Charts and diagrams for the company for the scene transitions (lots of platform, chairs, and desk moves).

Props that we don't already have must be acquired.

I'm sure we'll think of other things we've missed. Hopefully, well before tech.

Oh, yeah, and rehearse it some more . . . We have four more runthrus - Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and next Monday (tech). And that's it. Some work tomorrow at The Brick (dumb show) and maybe next Sunday, but that's it.

Luckily, it's looking good as of yesterday. The previous run, on Thursday, was logi and lacked momentum. It wasn't helped by the fact that we were focusing on the transitions, and so there was a long pause after each scene while we worked out who was moving what, but even taking that into account, it just kinda lay there like a lox. Once upon a time, it would have worried me, but I could see the work we'd been doing underneath the blah-ness. The thought was there, the smarts, the levels, just not the energy.

So I wasn't worried, and rightly so, as it turns out - yesterday's run worked very nicely indeed, despite (or maybe helped by, actually) being in the small room at Studio 111. A hot, confined space, and there we are, doing Hamlet (and it wasn't even all 18 of us; just 14). I wanted to laugh, sometimes, seeing us do the great big Famous Work in this little room. We had to skip sections due to actor lack, but the show was mostly there, with marked blocking at many points. The intensity, drive, and focus was back. We did good.

I was a wreck after, though. I need a little more fuel in me before I do Hamlet, and water around offstage. My engine was running on fumes right after. But a trip over to The Brick to see Art Wallace's Between the Legs of God was a nice warm-down (hysterically funny, with a few old classic in-jokes from Art's and my days at Nada). Followed by a screening of Art's DV-Movie from a few years back, Melon of the Sky (in which my performance did not embarrass me so much as I thought it would - not nearly as bad as I remembered), and a few hours of Berit and I hanging out at the space with friends, eventually closing down the place with Aaron Baker, Gyda Arber, Tom X. Chao, and Michael Criscuolo. A nice evening of theatre talk and bitchy dish (like there's a difference). Just what I needed.

Ah, just spent time on a show announcement I just realized should be it's own entry. Coming up shortly.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
We did a photo shoot at The Brick the other night, Berit and I, trying to get some usable images for the postcard (and elsewhere) of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet. We got a few good ones of varied kinds. We'll probably use an altered closeup of me for the card, so here's one of the other images of me as Hamlet we got:

Ian W. Hill's Hamlet

I'm going over all the line work I did last night and discovering that, of course, I've lost about 10% of all the lines I got down last night. I have four hours to get them back. Great.

collisionwork: (Great Director)
Between the two of us, Berit and I can do almost any job there is in theatre anywhere from passably to excellently. Except for one.


Berit and I have a huge blind spot when it comes to this - well, we know what's right when we see it, but trying to imagine it in advance? With few exceptions, we're lost. Spending time trying to self-educate myself online and with fashion magazines has gone nowhere.

So I'm always glad when someone of talent takes this over for us. In the case of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet, that someone is Karen Flood.

Since I have only a few ideas as to what I want, as well as what is needed, as called for by the script, I had to write detailed notes to Karen about the style and feel of this production, and how I view the characters. This wound up being as much for me as for Karen by the end, as it helped keep a few things clear in my mind, and summed up much of the work we've done in rehearsal to this point.

So here the two emails to Karen yesterday, edited a bit:


Here are my actors and their emails
[emails redacted, of course]:

Ian W. Hill (hi!) - Hamlet
Gyda Arber - "Buffy," Norwegian Captain, English Ambassador
Aaron Baker - Francisco (guard), Priest, "Heroic" Player
Danny Bowes - Elsinore Attendant, Gravedigger, Norwegian Soldier
Peter (Bean) Brown - Reynaldo, First ("Dramatic") Player
Maggie Cino - "Muffy," the Gravedigger's Wife, Norwegian Soldier
Edward Einhorn - Guildenstern, Norwegian Soldier
Bryan Enk - Polonius, Fortinbras
Stacia French - Gertrude
Jessi Gotta - Ophelia, Norwegian Soldier
Rasheed Hinds - Horatio
Carrie Johnson - Marcella (guard)
Daniel McKleinfeld - Rosencrantz, Norwegian Soldier
Christiaan Koop - Voltimand
Jerry Marsini - Claudius
Roger Nasser - Osric
Ken Simon - Bernardo (guard), Sailor, "Comic" Player
Adam Swiderski - Laertes, "Female" Player

I'm working on what notes I can for all of the characters above, but the general feel of things that I've been describing is "20th-Century America - all mixed together, no specific decade that can be pinned down" but really I guess I'm thinking more specifically of, say, 1955-1985 (a certain level of modernity, but still before cellphones and the PC revolution - people use dayplanners instead of Blackberries, still) . We jokingly call the locale "Denmark, Connecticut" at rehearsals, as it is very much based on my memories of growing up in preppy Greenwich, CT. Elsinore feels like a cross between a yacht or country club, the White House, and a white-collar business. This is a very class-centric

The soldiers/guards are somewhere between the military and the secret service. There are various lords, attendants, ambassadors, and interns around Elsinore of varied upper-middle-class to upper class stock ("Muffy" and "Buffy," Gertrude's two ladies-in-waiting, are certainly interning daughters of wealthy lords or dukes). The Gravedigger and his wife are working class.

Okay, just got your latest email. I've attached a script and will send this now. I'll have some more detailed notes in a bit.



. . . later . . .


Okay, below is some more of a breakdown for how I see the characters, with my vague ideas for costumery where I have any, but more often about how I see the characters, as clothing is a blind spot to me, mostly, until I actually see it, so often I write in feelings and images that don't literally apply to clothes, but might give you an idea of what the "feel" is supposed to be.

Also, I don't know if it will help, but I made up a timeline of the events of the show that is on my blog at

Since the play takes place, basically, over four days in the course of a year (one in May, one in July, two in September)
[as noted last entry, we were wrong on this, there are two days in July], it would effect how people are dressed. There's a lot of notes on the show at the blog, if you're interested, and they can all be accessed through:

And, if you don't mind, the kind of thing I like posting on the blog are the notes like I'll be giving you here, so if it's okay with you (please let me know), I'll put them up at some point. As a result, some of these notes may go on and on and be of no use to you, but putting them down makes things clearer in my own head sometimes.

In any case, the characters:

FRANCISCO, BERNARDO, MARCELLA (Aaron Baker, Ken Simon, Carrie Johnson) - Danish soldiers and members of the palace guard. They feel something like a cross between military and secret service. When they are out on the battlements, more military, when in court, more secret service (perhaps with earpieces). They are armed with pistols. In the first scene, when she visits the battlements, Marcella is "off-duty." Apart from that, whenever we see them they are on duty. Francisco is a bit of a slacker, does his job as much as he needs to, and that's it (he wears a watch); Bernardo signed up cause it seemed like a good idea, and now regrets it; Marcella is career military, likes it, and is good at it.

HORATIO (Rasheed Hinds) - from a family and line with more respect, style, and personal nobility than money or titles - I think Rasheed has said he sees himself as the Danish-born (or at least raised) son of diplomats to Denmark from an African country. Black, middle class, with great intelligence and self-awareness. A college friend of Hamlet's with a certain amount of leave to come and go around Elsinore as he pleases, without any real function.

THE GHOST (Ian W. Hill) - Old King Hamlet, in military gear. A warrior and a king. There is, in this production, the ever-so-slight implication that it is, in fact, young Hamlet himself dressed up as his father and wandering around (perhaps sleepwalking). The military garb must be obvious - he needs some kind of helmet, perhaps (I have three real military helmets, but Berit says they all seem "goofy" and "not Royal"). Armed (sword? pistol?). Heavy boots.

CLAUDIUS (Jerry Marsini) - a great Army General, now king. Wears a crown (some kind of simple one, I don't know what yet). Wears some kind of dress military uniform at some public events (certainly at his first speech). Is King now instead of Hamlet primarily because Denmark, threatened by Norway, needs a "War King" now, some kind of show of military "might" at the helm. Much more comfortable as a military man than as a king, but believes it is his duty to run the country now in troubled times. Starched and pressed, but gets a bit more frazzled and unkempt as the play goes on and things fall apart.

GERTRUDE (Stacia French) - poised, beautiful, regal, a Queen through and through. We've decided she's of German origin (a princess married off to the old King Hamlet when he was a young prince). Plenty of USA "First Lady" qualities to her, especially when we see her in "office" scenes where she's signing documents and working (she has reading glasses on a cord around her neck). Tasteful jewelry. Always aware of what it is to be royal, and dressed accordingly (even when meeting her son in her bedroom, she is "casually" well-attired, a Queen meeting a Prince more than a mother meeting a son). Perhaps a crown, too?

POLONIUS (Bryan Enk) - a politician/statesman - like a USA Secretary of State. Somber and fastidious, seemingly boring in his preciseness, but everything is calculated and deliberate. Three piece suit? Wears glasses. Pocket handkerchief. Maybe a pocketwatch with chain and fob?

LAERTES (Adam Swiderski) - handsome, dashing, preppy. The Big Man on Campus, and he knows it. Probably plays lacrosse and ice hockey, as well as being a fencer. Knows how to dress for public occasions, but also dresses down in a deliberate way when not having to dress up. In a perfect world, would wear classic Sperry Topsiders with no socks when saying goodbye to his father and sister at dockside. Wears a watch.

OPHELIA (Jessi Gotta) - I envisioned her as a bit of a tomboy, but I'm not sure Jessi is exactly going that way, or wants to. In any case, I don't think she dresses especially "feminine" until her dad has her dress up to meet Hamlet, and she has to drag out "the pretty dress" to put on. Jeans for the dockside scene with her brother and father, I think. Some kind of nightgown or slip for the mad scene - something unpleasantly "femmy," almost little-girlish. Generally, well-dressed (her family is quite loaded) when need be, but somehow differently formal -- she is wealthy, and near the Royal Court, but she is not of or serving that Court.

HAMLET (Ian W. Hill) - royal, spoiled, preppy, indolent, priggish, prudish, entitled, incredibly intelligent, unpleasant. Blue blazer, blue shirt, nice tie, loafers, tan pants (most of which I have) when we first see him at the Court (with a black armband, which is what is referred to as the "mourning colors" he should cast off, and which he wears for all of Act I). Something slovenly from his closet for when he's acting "mad" - probably nice clothes that have gotten worn or torn or stained (or all of the above), maybe a tie wrapped around his head. Needs an overcoat for the battlements/Ghost scene. Maybe a windbreaker for when he's being shunted off to England. Returns for Act II in black jeans and t-shirt and sunglasses and sneakers.

VOLTIMAND (Christiaan Koop) - Christiaan and I have had some costume discussions, and she has some specific ideas as to what she wants. I see her as very 1970s USA professional business woman/diplomat. She just wants to very definitely not wear a "power suit." She had some very good research photos that we looked at, and knows clothing well. I'm sure the two of you could figure something out well without much more from me. She gets a little more frazzled and unkempt as the play goes on (like Claudius, she gets more overworked and harried after Polonius' death).

REYNALDO (Peter Bean) - servant to the Polonius family, very loyal to them. Well-dressed, but definitely a servant, ready to do anything from carry messages to the King in a formal setting to carrying Laertes' bags for him as he goes away.

OSRIC (Roger Nasser) - a bit of a dandy, a little foppish, but not as over the top or even "swishy" as sometimes portrayed. Devoted to etiquette and propriety in all things Royal -- a dedicated reader and follower of current fashions and trends in Courtly dress and behavior. Does everything by the book. Loves royalty, dislikes Hamlet because he doesn't behave as a Prince should (and loves Laertes because he does). Wears a hat that he can fan himself with, annoyingly (because of the style we're doing this in, it can't be some big feathered monstrosity as it often is, so I'm not sure exactly where to go with it). Pocket handkerchief.

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN (Daniel McKleinfeld and Edward Einhorn) - from extremely wealthy families, grew up around Elsinore, childhood friends of Hamlet, though not of the Court. Jewish (Daniel and Edward want to wear yarmulkes and will be getting their own, not-quite-"traditional" ones, I believe). Rosencrantz is a bit looser and more stylish than Guildenstern (R is a business student, going for his MBA; G is studying to be a lawyer). Some kind of "travel" coats for when they are going to England.

"MUFFY" and "BUFFY" (Maggie Cino and Gyda Arber) - non-canonical names have shown up for these two who are non-speaking Elsinorians, most often seen as ladies-in-waiting/assistants around Gertrude (Maggie most often is giving Gertrude papers to sign - plans for menus for state dinners, whatever). Preppy intern girls from well-to-do families (as Maggie chirps in rehearsal, "My daddy's a Duke!"). They are also seen to act as cater-waiters. Berit sees them in matching blazers like NBC pages. Not a bad image tonally, even if not what we go with.

ELSINORE ATTENDANT (Danny Bowes) - Danny is the only person hanging around Elsinore who doesn't really have a name/character (otherwise, everyone else is the same characters when we see them around - Francisco, Marcella, Bernardo, Osric, Voltimand, Muffy, Buffy, Reynaldo). Danny is a bit more of a "servant" (we see him clearing food and drink after the opening scene) but we also see him acting as an armed guard helping to bring in Hamlet after he's killed Polonius. I still think a "servant" in his position is somewhat of rank in some way (like Muffy and Buffy), so he's definitely still of a higher class than the military people we see.

THE PLAYERS (Peter Bean, Aaron Baker, Adam Swiderski, Ken Simon) - working actors, tradesmen who know their job. Casual. Peter is the "great dramatic character actor" of the bunch, who plays the evil poisoner in the play within the play, Aaron is the "heroic" actor, who plays the King, Adam is the "female" actor, who plays the Queen (and is getting too big and old to play women's parts), and Ken is the "comic" actor, who plays a servant. They enter and exit in their "traveling" clothes, we also see them in "warmup" attire and in the play "The Murder of Gonzago."

GRAVEDIGGER (Danny Bowes) - a workingman, uneducated but intelligent and savvy. Dressed for work. Overalls? Or, since he has to hang around for the funeral respectfully before filling in the grave, is he in "nice" but scuffed working clothes, and just good enough at his job that he does it fastidiously in shirtsleeves and tie (his jacket hanging on a nearby tombstone)?

GRAVEDIGGER'S WIFE (Maggie Cino) - helps and supervises her husband, and acts, with equal parts love and exasperation, as his "straight man." The Gravedigger and Wife are the representatives of the working class in the play, able to comment on the ways of the world with a freedom that the other people we see cannot, because of the structures around them.

PRIEST (Aaron Baker) - the religiosity of the play is somewhat confusing . . . and while we're creating a rather WASPy world here, the religion seems to work best as Catholicism, so he's a Catholic priest. I have a short-sleeved Catholic priest shirt, but I don't know if it will fit Aaron.

FORTINBRAS (Bryan Enk) - I see him in a long leather coat - fairly much a Nazi, or at least fascistic. Some kind of military hat (not a helmet). No colors but black, grey and silver. Elegant.

FORTINBRAS' SOLDIERS (Danny Bowes, Maggie Cino, Edward Einhorn, Daniel McKleinfeld, Jessi Gotta) - cyberpunk stormtroopers, all leather and vinyl and rubber and metal and duct tape and tubing and goggles and gas masks and steel-toed boots. They smell of gasoline and burning plastic and hair. They don't feel human, but like animated anarchy.

NORWEGIAN CAPTAIN (Gyda Arber) - she is in between the last two mentioned above, and more human than either - not a cold fascist like Fortinbras, nor mindless destruction like the soldiers. An officer with a wry, realistic outlook on war and battles, but who still must look like she belongs to the same fighting force as the rest of the Norwegians.

ENGLISH AMBASSADOR (Gyda Arber) - another well-dressed female diplomat, maybe a bit more drably and somberly dressed than Voltimand.

SAILOR (Ken Simon) - a working fisherman in working clothes.

Well, that's plenty, or more than plenty, sorry. I doubt that you have fencing gear (jackets, gloves, masks) but in case you do, that's needed, too (damn, but it'll be pricey to rent or buy . . .). The play moves from Spring through Summer into Autumn, and there is a progression in color, if possible, along with the time, from muted to vibrant to washed-out and desaturated.

Okay, sorry to be so long-winded. This a good start?

We will have six full runthroughs and two other work days before we open, if you want to come to any that you can and would like to. I've attached a schedule.

My own sizes are:

[uh, no damned way . . .]

best, and thank you so much in advance for the gorgeousness,


collisionwork: (crazy)
Man oh manischevitz, have I been shagged and fagged and fashed this week, as Alexander DeLarge might say.

Rehearsals on the weekend, all going well, as they have been. Sunday, a bit held back by my still being on book for an important scene (sorry, Stacia).

Monday, I had to be at The Brick at 9.00 am to let in a show for rehearsal, then stay until 2.30 pm to help another show coming in.

Then I got to go to Gyda Arber's Memorial Day BBQ for a couple of hours and eat too much meat.

Then back to The Brick from 6.20 pm to 3.30 am to work on getting the tech ready for the Pretentious Festival and have the space ready for a shoot the next day. I was going to have rehearsal Tuesday evening, but after getting home at 5.00 am I emailed the cast and told them I'd be in no shape to work (I might have been able to direct a bit, there was no way I could do anything of value as Hamlet).

Back to the space at 9.30 am Tuesday to open up and supervise the shoot, which featured Ms. Kathleen Turner. Yes, at The Brick. They had to shoot an interview with her for a tribute they're doing at some Massachusetts film festival, and a friend of a friend put this film crew from Boston in touch with us, and it wound up with Ms. Turner giving a great, funny, and candid interview on the stage of The Brick.

Meanwhile, Berit was off at Big Apple Lights getting us the last supplies we needed to finally get the house plot in The Brick set up the way we've wanted it for months. So after the film crew left, we finished the work, sat back a moment to admire it as Amanda, the lighting director for the Fest, wrote some cues for one of the shows she's designing, and then got the hell home to rest a bit.

I'm glad I took Tuesday evening off, and spent Wednesday just doing simple paper and email work at home. I got the first good night's sleep I've had in weeks, got a huge amount accomplished in production work and line-learning, and actually felt relaxed for a while.

Which helped with the line-learning. I'm now almost completely off-book for Act I, with a couple of gaps. I'm going to try to do it tonight with no book, but no matter how well I get it at home, in front of the mirror, I'll still probably lose something and call for line still tonight. Some of it comes so easily and some just won't stick. Almost there on the act. I have 4 hours or more to work this afternoon (I have to be at the space at 5.00 pm, and then have rehearsal at 7.00).

I realized, in line-learning, that Berit and I both missed something in one of my lines that messes up the timeline we worked out for the play - there's one more day in there (we both confused some lines and thought the play within the play happens the same day as when the players arrive - it's the next day). So there's an extra day as what was "July 16" gets split into two days. Oh, well, don't think it'll change anyone's intentions or anything . . .

We now have the great Karen Flood on board doing our costumes for Ian W. Hill's Hamlet, which makes me very happy. She's designed a number of Kirk Wood Bromley's shows, and I've wanted to work with her more, but I think thus far we've only done my production of Mac Wellman's Harm's Way together, back in '98, though she's supplied me with an item here and there (a VERY important bowler hat for Temptation). I wrote her some extensive notes about the show, which I'll put up shortly.

So, more soon.


collisionwork: (Default)

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