One of the great dangers of the theater is Shakespeare’s laughter. When the actors actually trot the bard’s gag without joking, they will make up for it with a hearty fake gag. Forced laughter is sadder than silence.
We’ve all lived Shakespeare’s laughter for a while, but isn’t it? Wearing a cheering mantle hides the feeling that you don’t really know what this means. Who’s there?
Shakespeare’s As you like This is ironic. On the surface, it’s like a bright cartoon, but underneath its veneer reminds us of sadness and silence. It was first carried out against the backdrop of a plague that killed nearly a quarter of London. When MTC announced a new release in late 2019, no one knew that the plague was about to be recorded for the next season.
last year’s As you like Postponed to November 2021, when the cast and crew set about preparing for the show, it was imminent, as if making a mainstage production in the face of Melbourne’s mount case number was a joke in itself. There was an obvious sense of both feeling and absurdity. Humor that no one got.
How do you laugh in the face of a pandemic?
Director Simon Phillips said building a theater after a few months of hold is “not like going back to the bike. There are zones that you enter when you’re directing, but the difficulty is rehearsing. I wasn’t able to enter that zone for the first three weeks of. “
Week 1: All screens are on stage
When Phillips oversees Shakespeare, he starts by reading the table. There the actors go through the play together and make sure they understand the text. In theory, doing this via streaming video does not cause any problems.
The company was waiting to ask if they would be granted a government exemption for direct rehearsals. Meanwhile, they read the script with zoom. However, as the weekend approached, the fuss comedy was rarely set.
As you like Set to be the 40th show of actor Richard Piper at MTC. It didn’t look like his luckiest.
“We expected that we would probably only have 50 spectators. It would have been strange in a theater with 550 people,” says Piper.
Philips agrees. “If there aren’t enough people in the theater to laugh, it’s really a problem. It has nothing to do with what’s happening on stage. It’s anxiety that spreads to the audience.”
Week 2: Don’t swear by zooming. The zoom constantly drops out.
Video rehearsals have reached their limit of usefulness. There were no signs of face-to-face rehearsals yet. The cast was more in a Beckett situation than a bard. There are philosophical challenges to the image of an actor rehearsing a play that is never seen by the audience. What is the sound of not clapping your hands?
Phillips had to put his body on the floor to proceed with the rehearsal. Denying that, his team tried to process many of the songs in the show, but discovered that they couldn’t keep up the tempo in the face of Wi-Fi dropouts and freezing internet connections.
Rest came on Friday afternoon. Next Tuesday, the actors will be allowed to meet. With warning.
Week 3: Love everything, trust the few, and maintain social distance
“It was almost worse for me than Zoom,” says Philips. His actor was masked. “I have all these bodies in space, and I can’t see what’s happening to them because half of their faces are covered.”
Besides, they were doing things they hadn’t done for months. “The motor that makes you work as an actor suddenly goes into a sort of stagnation,” says Piper. “When I got back on stage, I felt as much fear as everyone else.”
“There’s something called stage stamina,” says actor Sivansawigesinha, who plays Duke Frederick. “It’s like something. If you don’t go to the gym for six months, you’ll be atrophied … [If] If you don’t do this kind of work for two years, your muscles and brain will start moving to different places. “
James Mackay, who plays Orlando, said: I don’t think anyone knew what to do on their own. “
Week 4: The mask came off and the rehearsal started in earnest.
Christie Whelan Browne has been playing on both Philips and MTC for over 10 years. She’s the closest place to work, but it also feels like going home. Her blockade experience was different from her castmate: it was a period of compulsory downtime she said she helped her try to get pregnant through IVF.
Playing Rosalind, one of Shakespeare’s most demanding roles, was an adjustment after years off the stage. “My body doesn’t feel the same because it gave birth to a baby. It doesn’t have the same strength. Rosalind is Shakespeare’s female character and has the most lines of all his plays. So there are times when my brain is really struggling with memory, which was my true strength before giving birth. “
Week 5: The true theater course never went smoothly
Philips directs with the energy of the orchestra conductor, paying attention to more than a dozen things at once and casting actors who can keep up with the pace of cracking. Only a few days before the dawn to the final stretch of the tech rehearsal, his instructions are even more urgent.
“Hurry.” “Quiet.” “Learn your f — ing line.” When someone else speaks, these naive commands may disjoint the actor’s nose. But his actors are unanimous in valuing his leadership and know what’s at stake.
Phillips isn’t like a quiet and gloomy director, marinated in his own way. If he pauses for a while, he will soon return at full speed. Immediately. “
Week 6: Dreamy things are made
During the first full run of the play, Welan Brown fell and twisted his ankle, and a second cast member injured his back. The next day, another back injury will hit the third actor. Philips has entered a period traditionally reserved for lighting, sound and other technical issues, and the actor is still in the process of finding a play. Things “feel like they’re in a hurry,” he says.
But at this point, there is no doubt about the actor’s heart. Their job is “everything happens in your life. The job is to bring joy and take people away, so you have to leave everything at the door … you are physical. Push through pain, emotional fatigue, and you do it because it’s work. “
The last two years haven’t been easy for the theater people. “The actors weren’t ready for the industry to disappear completely,” says Mackay. “But we’re pretty accustomed to going to unexpected places for uncertain periods with sudden notifications, so in terms of the resilience needed to go through all the rolling lockdowns, I’m for that. I felt that I had enough facilities. “
Piper underwent total hip arthroplasty with a blockade. Now he is looking forward to a complete outfit change that needs to be completed within a minute.
“You live a dream, but it comes at a cost,” says Wijesinha. “Mental costs, mental costs, physical costs. But I do nothing else.”
Opening Night: Think about it, but this and everything will be fixed
There is no red carpet photo opportunity at the South Bank Theater tonight. No loud voices echo throughout the room, and canapés are never added to the cart. Participants on the opening night look as clever about large gatherings as the actors a month ago and are gathering. If you have a forced smile, it will be hidden by the cloth.
As the crowd enters the theater, Phillips joins the line. He is crackling with a lot of energy. He says he’s scary. There was a preview, but the show is still changing. There were more cuts. He goes back to the original text and finds something new after 7-8 edits.
He has one right thing. A proper audience is needed so that people can laugh comfortably, and the first ripples of shared joy will not take long for the show to pass through the auditorium. Actors are what the audience first saw for such a long time, but they don’t just mark or draw lines. They are playing and having fun at the show. There is no Shakespeare laugh when the comedy tears. They are joking now.
As you like It will be in Sumner, South Bank Theater until December 18th. mtc.com.au
MTC resists pandemics, sprained ankles, and baby’s brains as the show progresses
Source link MTC resists pandemics, sprained ankles, and baby’s brains as the show progresses