Entries tagged with “2011”.


Joel L. Schindlbeck on Music Directing for Love’s Labour’s Lost

For Shakespeare’s theatre, music seemed to be a necessity. Not only the interior songs that Shakespeare built into his works, but also the interludes between acts, and musicians performing before the show to help appease the arriving mass of audience. We see this in modern theater all the time. Most musicals, operas and ballets have overtures, although those are usually played after the audience has already arrived and seated. Some theatre companies will use pre-show music while the audience is arriving in order to help put people in the mood. Outside of theatre, music is also used to persuade. Television is riddled with jingles and music to play during the titles and credits of shows and advertisement. Almost all movies come with a complete underscoring of music to retain a mood throughout the film. Even in personal life, I see so many people around town or on the bus wearing iPods while they work out, or travel, or go to work, or simply walk to the store. It’s a way of life. Music moves.

I can only imagine that in a world of no radio, no iPods, and no TV, the impact of having music was just as strong a means of putting people in the mood for what they’re about to see or do. At Pigeon Creek we don’t often have complete underscoring for scenes. We like to let the lines speak for themselves, unless a surviving stage direction in the script prompts us to create music; (and yes, we make sure that it comes from the source of prompter scripts.) However, we do follow the original practice of musical interludes. In the modern conventions of theatre, Pigeon Creek will not do breaks in between every act, instead opting for an intermission. And it is there that we attempt to use music to motivate.

As music director, I have a responsibility to serve that purpose. To put people in the mood for what they’re about to see, or in the case of interior songs, what they ARE seeing.

I won’t go into too much detail about the songs we’re using for Love’s Labour’s Lost. Part of the fun of our music is letting the audience experience it as a surprise. What I will say is that the music in this instance aligns itself perfectly with the point of this play. Love can be fun, even when we create roadblocks in the way and make trouble for ourselves. As I was trying to find the theme for our show’s music (and then find appropriate songs to match that theme), I started with a couple thorough readings of the entire play. I focused on the general concepts: what is the play’s point, how should a general audience feel about the play or the theme of the play, and what is the broad stroke of the play that we should let the audience go home with.

From that point, it was a matter of finding thematic songs that meet the following criteria: do the actors have the ability to sing and/or play the necessary musical instruments, can we perform this song acoustically (I tend to always say yes and find a way), when I listen to the song do I generally get the required emotion even without listening to the words if necessary, and is it possible that at least some of the audience will recognize the song. (We tend to pick what we call “Top 40 Songs”, be they from either today’s music charts or past decades.)

Then, it’s rehearse, perfect, perform and enjoy. We hope you do as well.

Alisha Huber on Directing Romeo and Juliet

As I was getting ready to direct Romeo and Juliet, one concern kept running through my head: What do you do with a play that everyone knows? If you didn’t read Romeo and Juliet in ninth grade, you are in the extreme minority. If you can’t come up with a couple of lines from it off the top of your head, you are officially not drinking the same cultural groundwater as the rest of us. It’s probably the most frequently produced play in the English-speaking world. On a sitcom, if the high-school-aged characters need to be in a play, it’s going to be Romeo and Juliet (no pesky royalties, no need to waste valuable space in your twenty-two minutes helping the audience figure out the plot of the play-within-the-episode). There’s even an episode of Hey, Arnold! where the kids act out the play.

I asked people what they remembered about Romeo and Juliet, and what they thought they knew about it before they got into high school and read it. Everyone, even small children, knew that the title characters were famously in love with each other. Those who had been through high school remembered the feuding families and the fact that they both died at the end. About the rest of the play, people’s memories were fuzzier. They knew that Romeo and Juliet both died, but couldn’t remember how or why. Very few people remembered the key detail that they actually got married. Almost no one remembered anything about any of the play’s other characters.

This gave me somewhere to start. Many cuts of the play that I’ve seen in performance remove the scenes that humanize Lord Capulet and pull the focus entirely to the young lovers. My cut tries to spread the attention and stage time around to many characters, often by leaving in lines or scenes that I literally have never seen performed. I was able to work with the actors who played the various supporting roles to clarify what their characters wanted and needed from this situation. Sometimes, this ended up being funny things that the audience will probably never really see—for example, we decided that Benvolio loves to dance, and a lot of his actions early in the play have to do with convincing his friends to help him crash a dance party. Others, I know will be clear to the audience. Katherine Mayberry and I worked a lot with Lady Capulet’s clear discomfort with her daughter, her longing for closeness with her, and the oddity of her relationship with the nurse—the woman who bore Juliet, and the woman who raised her.

The problem that was hardest to tackle was certainly that of Romeo and Juliet themselves. Audience members come in with expectations of what the lovers will look like, how they will talk, what kind of personalities they will have. Most of my work was to throw out those preconceptions and dig in to the text. “Trust the text,” I tell actors all the time, but in Romeo and Juliet, I was the one who needed that reminder. Here’s one fun fact that I bet you didn’t know: Romeo totally says funny things all the time, especially in the balcony scene. One of my favorite moments in the entire production is where Sean Kelley, as Romeo, says, “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” It’s a line everyone knows (I bet you even know the next one). He delivers it in an unexpected way—as a command to the audience, telling them to SHUT UP—and it always gets a laugh. Kat Hermes, as Juliet, found that Shakespeare’s Juliet is not the pale, doe-eyed, simpering girl popular culture would have us believe. She is smart, funny, and very much in control. Remember, Juliet proposes to Romeo, not the other way around. She’s also young and inexperienced. May of her best lines come out of the fact that she’s used to knowing exactly how things are going to go, and the depth of her own emotions surprises her.

Sean Kelley as Romeo

Romeo is one of the most challenging roles I have played, and the first part I will have played twice. Romeo and Juliet is often called the most produced play of all time, and I am thrilled that Pigeon Creek has brought this ensemble together to test the play again. One of the most interesting aspects of the behemoth that is Romeo and Juliet is how what happens to the title characters is determined by their harsh social environment.

Take, for instance, the first time Romeo and Juliet meet. Romeo is headed to the party to rejoice in the splendor of Rosaline’s beauty when he sees Juliet, falls in love, and ruins everything for everybody. This is exactly the course of action suggested by Benvolio a few scenes earlier, who tells Romeo to go to the party and check someone else out. Mercutio is no help, telling Romeo to ignore his cautious dreams and go to the Capulet’s party.

Kat Hermes, Juliet in our production, put it this way: “Everything else in their lives is awful, and we never get the chance to find out if they would be awful to each other.” Juliet only has one friend, the nurse, and is being set up in marriage by her distant parents. Romeo’s lot is not much better.

Sometimes the heightened language between Romeo and Juliet reveals deep syncopation in the two characters. That is what makes the play such an effective tragedy. The ill-fated pair are of marrying age and have strong interest in each other, as well as good social standing for a match. They should marry. The reasons they should not are provided by their toxic environment.

Romeo and Juliet are products of this environment, but they are hopeful characters until the end. Romeo is a little bit Benvolio, and a little bit Friar Laurence, and a degree of Mercutio but he has their characteristics turned positive and aimed away from the feud. This reflects back on the peace that could exist between the other people in Verona. If the ingredients yield products of hope like Romeo and Juliet, why can’t the feud be overcome?

I hope you come to see our production of Romeo and Juliet, where we will try our best to answer that question.

Scott Wright (Sly / Hortensio / Grumio / Vincentio) on the challenges of being doubled.

Try this on for disguise…

It always interests me to see how much of what we discovered, tried on, or experimented with during our initial read-through and in the early phases of rehearsal made it into the final production.

Especially with a very-small-cast where each actor, doubled into two or even more major roles, is asked to make character choices that will make it very clear to the audience who is being portrayed.

Some of the choices are easy and obvious, given to us in the text – the older men for example. The “Old Master Vincentio,” accustomed, by virtue of his age and wealth to deference and obedience, is taken by surprise when he stumbles into the topsy-turvy world of Kate & Petruchio and the goings-on in Padua.

As Kat Hermes has mentioned already, one of our tactics is to choose one character that will be simply be the most like me – that will speak in my (mostly) natural speaking voice and be mostly just me physically.

Grumio seemed the obvious one : self-aware (but not self-conscious…), smarter than average, fun-loving, attuned to what’s going on and to the people (…and their motives…) around him, and well adapted to the unique circumstances of living around Petruchio.

Well – maybe I’m not always all those things, but a little positive self-image never hurt, right…?

I’d never thought much before about Hortensio. Never had to. In my previous experiences with this play I’d seen Hortensio as someone Grumio has possibly ingratiated himself to or as one of the pawns in Tranio’s ex-machina.

But in our first read-through, under the pressure to come up with yet another character (especially one that someone else hadn’t already played with that evening…), just having a bit of fun and trying to make my cast-mates laugh, I tried on something so ridiculous, so completely improbable – something I was fairly sure at the time wouldn’t end up working…

The feedback was immediate (the expected laughter) and unequivocal as later review of what we had done and discussions about how to implement this crazy concept made it clear that it was something we would be keeping.

So then I had to start wondering – what is Hortensio’s deal…? There’s plenty in the script – Petruchio’s “best and most approved friend,” a man of higher social class – an at least moderately wealthy resident of Padua, and most notably – in love with Bianca, or at least in love with his ideal of what Bianca represents… and utterly blind to the fact that she just isn’t really interested in him.

So as I thought more about it, my very different characterization of Hortensio (…not that it’s never been done – I’ve just never seen it done…) sort of started to make sense.

It sort of fit with the way other characters treat him, and it made perfect sense that Bianca might prefer a young, good-looking (if somewhat thick-witted) gentleman to an effeminate, lisping, not-so-good-looking man who might one day be caught trying on her clothes.

You still have one chance to get out and see our zany experiment in small-cast Shakespeare at the fabulous Grant Fine Arts Center in Grant, MI next Saturday January 28th. You may never see these particular characters again… :)

Kyle Walker (Petruchio / Page) on Character Interpretation

‘Tis the Mind…

There always seems to be one line that comes to define my interpretation of a character. For Petruchio this one line has come to define not only the character but my view on the play itself:

For ‘tis the mind that makes the body rich,
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,
So honor peereth in the meanest habit.

While The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy full of slapstick humor and mistaken identities, I also think it asks the question “What is it that defines who you are?” The Induction scenes are a clear demonstration of this notion. Does Christopher Sly, in his mind, truly become a lord? Or is it just a dream? Or has he dreamt till now?

Petruchio constantly plays with this idea. He bends the truth, lies, and manipulates people to his own enjoyment. He knows exactly who he is and enjoys coaxing people into questioning themselves. He believes marriage is a complete sham and love is just an excuse. He comes to Padua not to find love but to “wive it wealthily.” He is only in it for the money; the wife is merely a place holder, a technicality.

All of this changes when he meets Kate.

The plan was simple. Attain the father’s consent. Cunningly keep Kate off-guard. Trick her into marrying him. Collect the dowry. Live happily ever after with his money. But as it turns out, he mistakenly falls in love with her. His entire reality is thrown into chaos. The way in which he defined himself has been questioned. He has caught himself in his own game.

But it’s ok.

His honor, his mind, his true self, can peer through the darkest clouds, right? Or perhaps the character that he has been playing is now playing him. If a kind, thoughtful, and caring man pretends to be a womanizing, arrogant, and chauvinistic man and if he plays that character long enough, does he become that man? Can someone become lost in a character? Are we defined by what we do? Or who we think we are?

Strangely enough I think this makes Petruchio love Kate even more. His game has always been to confuse, startle, and shock people. Kate joins him in his game and she does exactly what he’s been doing to her and everyone else. She understands him; even though now, he might not fully understand himself. A woman who can do that to Petruchio has truly won “the burden of his wooing dance.”

Joel L. Schindlbeck (Baptista / Lord in the Induction / Haberdasher / Widow)

In the beginning of my acting process, I’m asking myself the question, “Why is my character saying these lines.” That question could keep me busy for weeks, and often it does. Using it as a battery for my rehearsal time, I march through the scenes, exploring and discovering exactly why the words are coming out of my mouth. But we’re a little under two weeks from opening the play. My use of these question has near run it’s course and so, we venture to the next question.

“Why is this character in the play?”

Luckily, to spur the creative mind, the answer is not simply, as in the case of Baptista in The Taming of the Shrew, “Because without this character, Katherina and Bianca would have never been born.” Yes, that is certainly a true statement, but couldn’t the play then have gotten along just as well without Baptista actually being around? We don’t see the birth of Katherina and Bianca, so obviously Shakespeare choose to not delve into the importance of birth and parenting.

“Why is my character in the play NOW?”

I believe that Baptista is the world of the play. He has created the rules of engagement for his daughters, he has set the bar for the courtiers and he referees the entire process along the way as a means of not only controlling the future of his family, but also establishing the base moral code for how his family WILL create their future. He is the thread on which the plot builds as a candle builds from being dipped into melted wax. Every act, every scene, every interiour French scene brings another aspect of life choices made by characters which alters the world of the play, putting on another dipping layer of wax for the final candle.

For example:

*We first see Baptista quieting the suitors and reminding them of the marriage rules that he has set forth for his daughters.
*Immediately, the suitors plot means of cheating the rules in order to achieve the desired end.
*This drives them to seek out a suitor for Katherina.
*This drives Petruchio to decide to woo the wild beast that is Katherina.
*This drives a formal engagement, through lies and deception of the rules, between Katherine and Petruchio.
*This frees up Bianca to be married.
*Problem solved!

(Except, as we lovingly see from any comic farce on life and love…not playing by the rules requires people to be on their toes and create diversionary tactics in order to by them time to achieve their ends without disrupting the world and rules set out for them. I mean, wouldn’t it completely have been simpler if the suitors simply hired true instructors to teach Bianca, hired Petruchio to win Katherina and then wait patiently as Baptista assesses their true dowries and makes the choice he intended to make. I’m digressing, but the point remains that Baptista has created the world of the play at the beginning, not necessarily a fair world, but the rules nonetheless. Without these rules, the following four acts wouldn’t need to happen.)

So, there’s a beginning answer to the question. Baptista serves as the world of the play, or keeping my simile, the wick of the play. But then what? I mean, all of that could be delivered in one speech and I could go to the bar while everyone else plays around for two hours and meets me there after the audience leaves.

This is where Baptista, as the world, must respond and/or change the world to match new realities that occur. He is the reactionary character. Not only is he the common foil to most characters’ ruses, but he is also the person responsible for seeing that progress has happened according to his rules and setting forth the next step of the world.

Using a similar example as above:

*Baptista’s Rule: Bianca may not marry until Katherina does.
*Petruchio will marry Katherina.
*Baptista, satisfied, allows for the suitors’ assets to be analyzed. Bringing his next rule…
*Lucentio (Tranio is disguise) may marry Bianca is his father promises the dowry even in the case of Lucentio’s death.

Thus: THE DIRECTION OF ACTION IN THE PLAY CHANGES WITH NEW RULES!

We have been whipped up in the courting of Katherina in order to complete the first milestone of the play. That being over, we now get TWO PLAYS to watch: The Taming of Katherina via Petruchio AND The Cozening of Baptista via Tranio’s lies of the Pedant being Vincentio (Lucentio’s Father.)

Having decided this, my next question is more meta-theatrical: Is a reactionary character a form of audience surrogate? I’m still working on it. Come find out.

Brooke Heintz (Katherina / Biondello) on playing the Shrew.

The Taming of the Shrew is one of those shows where we feel as if we are going to have a number of audience members coming to watch the finished product who already have very strong opinions on the content of the play. Like The Merchant of the Venice, which gets looked at over and over in the light of whether the play is anti-Semitic, etc., Taming of the Shrew is equally considered controversial when examined through a modern perspective on the relationship between the sexes. Many people who are familiar with the play have had to face the difficulties of our present day discomfort with a show that ends with a woman bending knee to her husband and proclaiming his right of dominance. The fact that the play was written ‘in the past when things were different’ shouldn’t be a throwaway excuse for that level of discomfort, and audiences shouldn’t be expected just to accept that this is a play about people who thought in vastly different ways than we do now. Pigeon Creek especially prides itself on making characters and story lines accessible to audiences now, and I think taking that kind of approach to it would have precisely the opposite effect.

Going into this production, I was interested to see how the rest of my cast wanted to approach this. It’s become almost standard fare nowadays to insert some kind of gimmick when staging the play, to either highlight its themes as misogynistic, or to find ways to subvert Kate’s final speech in its entirety, such as throwing in a wink at the end of the monologue to show the audience that she didn’t mean a word of it. Honestly, I’ve always found these things to be the less interesting choices, and unnecessary pandering to the audience’s need to feel ‘comfortable’ with how things tie together.

Kyle Walker (Petruchio) and I have had many conversations about what it is that Petruchio and Kate end up getting out of this relationship, and how it changes both of them, which I think is part of the key to accepting the play for how it’s written, rather than attempting to impose a modern lens on it. It’s important to look at what kind of characters Petruchio and Kate both are – both of them make extravagant decisions that seem out of place in any sort of logical world, and both seem to possess a natural streak of sadistic humor. As far as Kate goes, her temperament is something that’s so far beyond how any normal person should behave (male or female), that trying to defend her too much turns into making excuses for her unacceptable behavior. Even with the psychological impact of not having a mother figure around, of dealing with the favoritism shown to her sister, etc., she still desires to rule over everyone and everything, and doesn’t understand what it means to bend for anyone. Her actions are incredibly self-centered, and she has only one tactic for getting what she wants: behaving as a shrew. Since no one has proven a match for her tongue or violent actions, it’s managed to work for her just fine – until Petruchio comes along. Not only does he prove her equal in wits, and possess the strength to keep an upper hand on her in terms of her many physical threats to his well-being, but because of this, she’s forced to learn new ways to get what she wants that are equally satisfying once she learns to take ownership of them.

Playing Petruchio’s own game with him and taking it a ridiculous degree is her own way of rebelling and maintaining her sense of who she is, and he doesn’t mind when she does it this way. It isn’t a particularly healthy arrangement, but neither character is particularly emotionally stable at the onset, either. Petruchio doesn’t want to extinguish the fire that makes her Kate – he encourages her when she’s ready to fight the widow at the final banquet, rather than scolding her, and finds the whole situation humorous. The very nature of ordering Kate to give the other women a verbal lashing proves this as well. He doesn’t desire a woman who is meek – but he doesn’t want his marriage to be a constant state of war either, and through getting her to adamantly defend defined gender roles in public, Kate’s granted an armor for her pride that allows her to renounce her old tactics and adopt more socially acceptable ways of getting what she wants. There’s still something discomfiting in this, but there can be, just as there can be something unsettling in The Merchant of Venice that leaves the audience uncertain of how to feel about the characters in the play and their own emotions about what just happened. That sense of uncertainty leaves an audience thinking, rather than just laughing at Kate having ‘pulled one over’ on Petruchio at the end, which I personally think is a much more provocative and meaningful use of the play.

Of course, in the end, our audiences may entirely disagree. Either way, I’m very interested and nervous to see how audiences will react to seeing the play handled in what we considered to be a ‘straight’ fashion. And I hope it leaves you all with something to think about!

Kyle Walker’s Unlikely Muses as Petruchio

When I first began to develop the character of Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, a strange but clarifying discovery was made. The way in which I wanted to play the character reminded me of two very strange sources: Andy Kaufman and Edward Blake, the Comedian (a comic book character from the graphic novel Watchmen. )

Andy Kaufman’s humor was based on human emotion. It wasn’t always funny. He reveled in the control of human emotions. He could make (and loved to make) the audience feel whatever he liked. It didn’t matter if it was joy, laughter, hatred, embarrassment, remorse, fear, or anything. He enjoyed the reversal. He enjoyed the human reaction. And that is what Petruchio is.

There are many times in the play in which Petruchio is on stage but says nothing for pages. He just stands there and watches as the mistaken identity/wooing/suitor subplot plays out. He enjoys it. He enjoys watching the ridiculous farce of life. It’s just a game to him: a game of human reaction that he can control, enjoy, and get lost in.

In Watchman, the Comedian is a charismatic womanizing, self-centered, arrogant, vigilante. One could see right there where I could find a muse for Petruchio. But more importantly, the Comedian saw the world for what it is; a joke. Instead of being a part of that joke, he chooses to be a parody of it. When Petruchio sees how his world works (e.g.: father’s deciding who should marry who, suitors lying and cheating to get a wife, love being pushed aside, etc…), he chooses to become a satire of what he sees.

It is very important to me and the character that Petruchio truly does love Kate. At first it is simply a game. He tricks the girl, he gets he money. That game changes as soon as he meets Kate. So, Petruchio puts on a character that is boisterous, loud, arrogant, and flamboyant, to fit into the world of Padua. But also to make a joke of it. To laugh at it behind its back. To control it. When Kate discovers that joke and can laugh at it with him, that is when he falls in love.

Joel L. Schindlbeck on the Induction of The Taming of the Shrew.

Greetings Shakes-fans.

We’re thick in rehearsals for The Taming of the Shrew, and while I’m also playing Baptista, the Haberdasher (yeah, one-liners!) and the Widow, my most difficult challenge currently is the Lord in the Induction.

Why am I challenged by it? True, he isn’t the most in-depth character in the plot. And true, he is perhaps the most fanciful and ridiculous; therefore while perhaps physically exhausting, conceptually…well, how hard is it to wrap your head around a fruitcake?

The reason I find it challenging, is that the plot of the Induction doesn’t resolve itself. My instincts are then, CUT IT! But the Artistic Director, Katherine Mayberry, chose to keep it in. Of course, I completely respect her position on everything Shakespeare related, so I was forced to turn back to the Induction and make it work. To discover why it’s here and how to make it amazing!

The first thing I noticed about the induction, after scouring the lines and finding the bits of comedy and character inside of it, was that it could be seen as a “variation on the theme” of the main plot of Taming of the Shrew.

For those of you that haven’t read the Induction, it revolves around one rather Falstaff-ian Christopher Sly who ends up drunkedly passed out on the floor of the inn. A fanciful lord, returning from hunting with his entourage enters, and upon seeing the man, decides to turn his world topsy-turvy in order to “practice on this man.” The lord feels that the best means of making this drunkard “forget himself” is to convince him that he is, in fact, a “mighty lord”, rich and well-placed, with servants at his beck and call, leagues of gold and wealth, and a beautiful lady at his side. My character then instructs his entourage and a traveling troupe of actors to follow suit and teach Mr. Sly his lesson. They do, and the bewildered Sly is then whipped up into this world of fancy, even accompanying his “lady” to a play that evening at the inn. Perhaps…the play is one “The Taming of the Shrew”, potentially a parable for Sly in conversion to being a productive and upright member of society.

While, we never see what happens to Sly after his viewing of the play, this is certainly enough for me to build a character on. Thus, I must. And there is my challenge, to deliver this character regardless of the fact that his plot is never resolved. No resolution, no denouement, no jig song at the end for him! All that build up! (Trust me, with the amount of lines that this Lord delivers in just these two scenes, the build-up is immense.)

So, I do it.

I have an acting theory that has worked for me in the concept of character building, and it is certainly applicable here. I believe that for one to truly be able to deliver their character on stage, whole-heartedly committed and convincing, one must “jump off the cliff”. We stand at a precipice with every role. To simply stand at the rock’s edge, dangling one’s toes over into the oblivion, is non-committal. It’s full of fear, and thus weakens one’s position and delivery. To truly commit to character, one must jump and know that there is no going back, regardless of how far the fall truly is or what will happen when one reaches the ground. Think of it. Flying down through the air, there is nothing but instinctual emotion and rippling sensations of wind, gravity and air beating against either side of you. You have no ground to stand on, you simply see the end growing larger and larger towards you with no retreat.

So, I believe that this is what I must do with this character, even if the “ground” is never in sight. I must jump and give in to the chaos of the character’s world, regardless of the end (or lack thereof.) My only aim, to make it a beautiful flight. Let’s try…

Brooke Heintz on the concept of a six-person Taming of the Shrew

A couple weeks ago, one of our Pigeon Creek board members approached me about our upcoming rehearsal period for Taming of the Shrew with a look on his face that made it evident he had no idea how I was going to take what he was about to say to me. I was cast to play Kate in the production back in Spring of 2011, so I’ve had months to look forward to this, and wonder about what direction we were going to take it in. There are a lot of questions every cast has to wrangle with when putting on a play that is as controversial as Shrew can be, and I was excited to find out what angle we were going to take.

What I didn’t expect was what Scott had to tell me.

“It looks like we’re going to try a six person cast.”

Now, it took a minute for those words to sink in. Maybe you can get it faster than I did. Pigeon Creek always has ‘small’ casts compared to many other theaters who produce works of Shakespeare, on account of our devotion to original practices that keeps our troupes small, often relying on doubling or tripling roles.

But by ’small’, I mean usually around 10-12.

We were looking at half that.

The challenges in such a tiny cast aren’t really in having to deal with a larger burden of roles per actor – like I said, that’s pretty par for the course for PCSC, and I’ve played as many as 6 different roles in one show before. The real problems were a little more jarring.

“This means, there are definitely going to have to be times,” Scott said, “when we’re talking to ourselves… onstage.”

That one took a longer minute to sink in.

Oh.

We didn’t have enough actors with six to cover how many people are onstage at any given time in some scenes.

Things just got way more interesting. I looked at Scott, smiled, and said I was still all in.

To be honest, I was even more excited (and more petrified, let’s not forget that) than before. This will be a first for PCSC, and hopefully set a precedent we can follow in the future for further small cast shows. In other words, we’re going to be breaking ground – probably messily.

Other troupes out there have done the same kind of thing before, so we all went to check out their techniques on the internet and came together for our first brainstorming meet last week. We sat down and went through the entire play after a read through, breaking down all the problem spots. Moments where an actor left, only to have to enter immediately as an another character to deliver the very next line. Times where a character had an extended conversation onstage… with themselves. Scenes where a character was pointed out and discussed… by another character that they also played.

It seemed like there was no way around making it silly, so we had to decide what conventions we were going to use to make it not only as entertaining as possible, but how to keep it clear to the audience what was going on. We took a hacksaw to the script and cut out lines or reassigned them to try to eliminate unnecessarily confusing moments. We came up with character concepts and easily swappable costume ideas, and talked about what to do with staging and movement to indicate two characters onstage in different places.

We talked a lot. But by the end of the night, any traces of doubt I had were eradicated.

Not only could we do this, but we could do it with style.

So here’s hoping it ends up making sense. Or on the off chance that it doesn’t, that it at least makes you guys laugh.