Becoming Caliban
Chronicles of a production of The Tempest
Monday, March 07, 2005
Learning Me Your Language

Today I spent some time in the morning trying to learn lines, then did what learning lines always tempts me to do: procrastinate by pretending to do something related to learning lines. So I decided I would create a CD of my lines that I could listen to in the car. This meant I needed, of course, to get something other than the demo version of an old edition of the Audio X Mac software, since the demo only lets you record for half a minute. So I downloaded the new edition demo to test if it would work, and it did, so then I went through the process of paying $19.95 for it (justified by the fact that I used the demo quite a bit, even with the limitation on length, and so now that there's no limitation on length I'll probably use the software even more) -- notice that none of this actually involves learning lines.

In fact, by the time it was all done, I only had time to record one scene before I needed to leave for rehearsal. I wasn't about to waste a CD on one scene, so I abandoned the project for later, not having learned many lines at all. But now at least I can record them.

At rehearsal, somebody asked the director when we should be off book, and he said Wednesday would be good. I nodded. Wednesday would be good.

First we went through II.ii and III.ii, then did all of acts III and IV. Things are getting smoother. It will be wonderful once we don't have scripts in our hands (I keep reminding myself). The fun today was doing some work with the musicians. We came up with a plan for how to approach the "Be not afeard..." speech -- sounds growing and growing, then stopping after "when I waked" so I can say "I cried to dream again" in silence. The director loved it when he heard it, and I thought it was a vast improvement over what I'd done before.

I had less success doing my song at the end of II.ii, because the musicians and I kept trying various rhythms, but never tried the same rhythm at the same time. Rhythm is something that has always challenged me, and is one of those things that, like brussel sprouts, I try to avoid. I have no idea what we'll come up with that will work, but it's probably best for the musicians, who are talented and flexible and not rhythmically challenged, to try to follow me, because I know that once the performances begin my brain will panic and I'll just come up with whatever rhythm happens to occur to me.

Music on the way up and back: Bob Dylan Live 1975, a very Calibanesque album, and one of my all-time favorites (I'm one of the three people alive who never heard the Rolling Thunder Revue material on bootlegs, so this album was a revelation to me).

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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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