Tue 26 Jul 2011
Claire Mahave as Blunt and Mortimer (and Quickly)
I’ve been in local theater for over thirty years, but this is the first time I’ve played a manly man. (Notes to self: walk like a dude, sit like a dude, stop making those girly hand gestures, legs apart at pretty much all times, use my lower voice register, ground myself, act like I own the place, and when I flirt with my wife, be sure to look at her body, not just her eyes.) In fact, I am playing several men. One is Blunt, a soldier and trusted member of King Henry’s entourage. Another is the romantic (and, apparently, revolted) Mortimer, a rebel who would have been king, had Henry not once played the rebel himself.
It is with noted and self-conscious irony, then, that I report to you that the most difficult character for me to come to terms with is neither of these two men, but my lone female character Mistress Quickly. The reason for this is simple—Quickly is a clown, and I, alas, am not. I am awed by the people who can step into these roles and explode past the boundaries of good taste to ferret out the incredible number of ways a scene can be riotously funny. For me, it’s work, and the results are less than stellar. I agonize over these roles, and if some proverbial fly on the wall were to watch the rehearsal process from start to end (including my at-home solo rehearsals), said fly would marvel at the number of things I try on for size—assuming that flies marvel at anything, which is somewhat doubtful. Anyhoo, one of the things that I value about Pigeon Creek is that doubling forces me to play outside my acknowledged strengths. I mean, I already know I can look tragic and be motherly. I can be a tragic mother with the best of them. But can I be a steadfast soldier or whorish hostess? We shall see, but I am at any rate grateful for the opportunity and will do my very best for company and country.
Preparation for this show has been a little different for me, mostly because I get to fight. I have always wanted to do stage combat, but other than knifing someone in the back and gouging out his eye with my thumb (Ah, Regan! You were such evil fun!), I’ve never had the opportunity because I’m not a guy. As I thought, stage combat is a tons o’ fun but also very challenging. (Notes to self: remember the wrist, the pointy side is supposed to go toward the person I’m trying to hit, keep low, keep the point away from the audience, look at my target, stay relaxed, extend.) It’s a little hard on the knees, but well worth it. In a small bit of delicious casting, I am fighting with Amy, who in her adorable petite-ness makes me look positively brawny. (Spoiler alert: she kicks my butt, which may be taken both literally and figuratively in this case.)
This one’s going to be good, folks. I’m very happy that we’re coming along as quickly as we are. I love working with these women (and Scott, of course), and I know that this show will be excellent. Powers That Be at Pigeon Creek, thank you for casting me, and thank you for not making me learn lines in Welsh.
I hope to see you all at a performance!