Becoming Caliban
Chronicles of a production of The Tempest
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Beware the Ides of March

Yesterday was the Ides of March, but, despite its legacy since Caesar's assassination, it was not a particularly bad day. In fact, it was one of the better rehearsals we've had.

A frequent actor and occasional director with Advice to the Players, John, came with his wife (who directed Comedy of Errors, which I was in a couple of summers ago) and their infant son to observe the rehearsal and do some work with small groups. (Both he and Dawn, his wife -- yes, they're John and Dawn -- have worked with Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts, one of the better regional Shakespeare groups). Stephano, Trinculo, and I got a lot of time with them, which was wonderful, because they're both very energetic and supportive, and their comments were exactly the sort of specific, incisive directing that we've missed in the whirlwind/triage process that the short rehearsal period has forced us in to. Yes, rehearsals can be fun.

We spent about twenty minutes trying some new sight gags for II.ii, the spot where Trinculo hides from Stephano under my cloak with me. Previously, it had been blocked with us in an X formation, with me lying diagonally across the centerstage ramp and Trinculo lying diagonally on top of me. John restaged it with me lying with my head downstage on the ramp and Trinculo lying with her head upstage, so that now our heads are between each other's legs. Though it's physically much more difficult this way, it's also vastly funnier. We then worked on the timing of Stephano's interactions with both of us, and the scene became vastly more specific and interesting, I think. What a joy it was to really work on a moment and not just rush through it and say, "Okay, well, that'll do"!

We managed to do a run-through of the entire show, and it went fairly well, though lines continued to be a problem for everyone. (Inevitable, given the process, but unfortunate.) My costume works well -- striped brown pants that look like silk pajama pants, a brown turtleneck with a rustic wool shirt over it, and a small fishing net draped over it all. The net got caught in a lot of things, including my feet, but I was able to work with it, and it's probably a problem easily solved with a few safety pins.

And later today we'll have the last rehearsal. Tomorrow morning we open.

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the production
The Tempest
produced by Advice to the Players
at The Barnstormers Theatre
Tamworth, New Hampshire, USA

March 17 & 18, 2005
at 10am & 7pm

March 19
at 7pm

March 20
at 2pm

shakespeare links
Open Source Shakespeare
The Tempest Text
Elizabethan Pronunciation
Perseus Project
Early Modern Literary Studies
collection of Tempest links
Images of The Tempest
The Tempest in old postcards
Post-Colonial Tempest Links

2005-02-27 2005-03-06 2005-03-13 2005-03-20

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about the writer
Matthew Cheney teaches English and theatre at The New Hampton School.

This weblog chronicles his experiences rehearsing and performing the role of Caliban in a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest.


Primary website: The Mumpsimus

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