Entries tagged with “Joel L. Schindlbeck”.


Head’s up, blog-followers. We’re starting our 2011 season of The Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline, Henry IV part 1, Much Ado About Nothing (in High School Residency) and The Taming of the Shrew. Follow this blog and you’ll receive weekly notices of the blog that delves into the minds of our actors.

And now…The Merchant of Venice…

Joel L. Schindlbeck as Shylock

5 scenes and 350 lines or so. Those numbers don’t match up in my mind, except I’ve seen them before. It was the same with Polonius. I remember initially thinking how easy that would be. I wasn’t completely wrong, but it was more fun/exhausting than easy.

So, Shylock walks on stage and drools out these lecture bombs, and I have to not bore the audience thus. I’m considering that my basic goal for this production. Goal one, check. So now, I need to check to see how his speeches are laying out.

At general glance, Shylock’s speeches are obvious acting tools, organized to fuel the action onstage. If, as Hamlet blathers, it is necessary to suit the action to the word, et vice verse, then when the words are aligned to conduct action, your job is a little easier. Or, at least, the basics of your job are that much easier. Shylock’s speeches follow a very clear pattern of perfect verse and rambling prose. Simply having these clear examples laid out in the sequence, as they are in the script, is enough to force an actor through the necessary physical hoops in order to best communicate the arc of this character. Good job, Shakespeare.

For example, let’s take the first scene (I, iii). Shylock first hems and haws his way around young Bassanio. His speeches are prose and can easily be categorized as either Repetitive or Equivocating/Qualifying. When Antonio enters, his speech not only instantly changes to almost perfect verse, but also takes on the purpose of the narrator, doling out his entire mental process of retribution against Antonio. His motives are clear, but only to the audience. From this point on through the play, whenever Shylock talks to or in the presence of Antonio, it’s in almost perfect verse. In this scene, in particular, we go from Passive Manipulation (Repetitiveness and Equivocation) to Active Manipulation with Shylock’s twisty yet perfectly calculated (meter wise) speeches. Some do, however in the latter part of this scene, end up being Equivocating as well, which is a definitive Shylock trait in my head, but the tool of perfect verse leads me to qualify that equivocation as more planned, groined and ostentatious.

Shylock’s next scene (II, v) takes place inside the confines of his own house, the house he runs like a moderately well-oiled clock. There is…Launcelot to take in consideration. But at the top of this scene, Launcelot has just told Shylock two things; 1: He’s quitting and going to work for Bassanio and 2: Antonio, Bassanio and the boys have invited Shylock to dinner, to celebrate the bond seal.

There are three sections inside of this scene for Shylock. First, we see him chiding Launcelot and trying to gather Jessica for last minutes notes of advice (…channelling Polonius…).

SHYLOCK:
What, Jessica! — thou shalt not gormandize,
As thou hast done with me: — What, Jessica!–
And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out;–
Why, Jessica, I say!

His speech is almost perfect in it’s verse, but there is a LOT of mid-line punctuation, which tells me that the speech is quick, snappy and almost sing-songy or balanced in it’s quick volleys. He is rushed, but in charge.

The second section is when he’s giving Jessica the instructions for the house. Following on a similar vein, Shylock (mid-line rushed punctuation and all) changes his volley from Jessica to his own musings, within verse lines as well.

SHYLOCK
There are my keys, But wherefore should I go?
I am not bid for love; they flatter me:
But yet I’ll go in hate, to feed upon
The prodigal Christian. Jessica, my girl,

However, upon hearing from Launcelot of the masques planned tonight, Shylock loses it and his verse shows it.

SHYLOCK
Clamber not you up to the casements then,
Nor thrust your head into the public street
To gaze on Christian fools with varnish’d faces,
But stop my house’s ears, I mean my casements:
Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter
My sober house. By Jacob’s staff, I swear,
I have no mind of feating forth to-night:

Instantly, we can see trochees and feminine endings, the first points of irregular verse, pop out in Shylock’s speech. The idea of a masque (the period version of a caustic, drunken, night-time tail-gater) sends fear into Shylock and he hurriedly switches into Nuclear Bomb Shelter mode with ordering the house. Plus, he doesn’t have lay-about Launcelot to help with the house preparations, he’s panicked.

The final Poloniusian (yeah, I made up that word) moment, even comes with Quippy Adages and Repetitive Instruction, delivered with a rushed irregular verse line. And what you have is a perfectly sculpted scene of Shylock’s weaknesses and strengths.

I’ll have to do this for the whole play. I’ve finished my paraphrasing, and am about half-way done with my scansion (thanks, prose lines…) so we’ll see where I can go with this.

Joel L. Schindlbeck again… So, I’ve been working with the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company for over 10 years now and never have had a more difficult accent to master than what I’m currently learning.  I’m preparing the role of Sir Hugh Evans, the Welsh parson, for The Merry Wives of Windsor.  A dopey, good-natured, religious type (and appropriately genderless, as well) is no problem at all for me.  One of the first things I learned in professional theatre, is “know your type”. That’ll keep the bills paid a little easilier.

However, our little teddy-bear Evans here has a thick and pointedly South Welsh accent.  From the minor research I’ve done so far, that accent is perhaps one of the closest to a (no offence to the Welsh who read this) lazy, Midwestern American accent.  However, it’s the vowels and the sing-song nature throwing me off.  My text coach, Katherine Mayberry, is getting me a CD, and she’s always there to help me with my words in general, so I’m not too worried.  But still, it’s strange that a character can be so easily “type cast” and yet have to carry such a difficult accent.  But, it’s early in rehearsal, and I work better taking things step-by-step. So we’ll see about that…

In other news, I’m organizing all the costumes for the play.  We’ve chosen the Renaissance, and my sempsters (myself included) are up to our elbows in jacquard prints, chiffon, corduroy and velvet, velvet, velvet.

The citizens of Windsor are quite the vivid and amalgamated bunch, from tight-corseted matrons to disguised husbands. We’re building jerkins, doublets, hoses, bonnets, robes and dresses, all in brilliant earth tones, that will fill the space around them like a cloud of colour and history.  I think, my internet friends, that you are in store for a lush romp of tomfoolery!

Here is the first in our series of actor and director blogs regarding our production of Hamlet, which began rehearsals on February 15.  Check back each week for another actor’s perspective on the production!

This is Joel L. Schindlbeck.  I’ve got a couple different hats that I’m wearing for Hamlet, which is normal for my work with Pigeon Creek.  Currently, I’m playing Polonius/1st Clown, directing the music, sitting on costume crew, as well as my normal board work with the company (e.g.: PR/Marketing management, sitting on various committees and all those other beautiful and clandestine inner workings of the modern theatre organization.)

Thus far, in rehearsal, we haven’t spent too much time at all on character.  This first week has been mostly introduction to the different production aspects (i.e.: music, combat, text and housekeeping.)  We start all rehearsal periods with orientation to the company and the specific production, integrating the company of actors, which often includes a combination of veteran company members and actors who have not worked with us before.  Not only does it offer us the chance to spread our mission statement to other people, and therefore increase our presence; but it also gives us a chance to refortify our philosophies and beliefs in ourselves via constant training to others.

But, anyway, you want to know about the actor’s experience.  Fine.  I’ll take off all those other hats for a moment (which in all honesty, is difficult to do!).

I think it’s no mere coincidence that our director and artistic board has doubled Polonius and the 1st Clown.  (They’ve also gone and doubled Ophelia and the 2nd Clown.)  Pure genius, in my opinion.  In my research and analysis so far, Polonius acts as a bit of a minor foil to Hamlet, but also (more importantly) as a comic parallel.  Yes, yes, we all know about Shakespeare’s genius way of juxtaposing stark images of comedy and tragedy next to one another.   Both Polonius and Hamlet offer such stark and juxtaposed images, often inside of scenes or monologues themselves.    But, I’m digressing.  I want to focus on the parallels of Polonius and Hamlet.

Both characters are in similar pursuits of the truth.  Mind you, Hamlet actually knows the truth and is trying to get the world to admit it; whereas Polonius doesn’t know the truth, but is trying to seek it out tirelessly.  Whatever the foundation of their pursuit, both Polonius and Hamlet share the same strategy, which is best summarized by this speech of Polonius:

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out:
-Polonius, Hamlet, II, i

Both characters strongly feel that in order for truth to best be discovered, one must create an atmosphere of falsehood and white lies in order to bring honest confessions.  Both Polonius and Hamlet set up plays of different sorts (e.g.: Hamlet with The Mousetrap and his madness, Polonius with Ophelia and Gertrude) in order to get others to dictate and pronounce the truth.  So, why have two characters attempting the same arc?

As, I stated before, Polonius is a comic parallel to Hamlet.  They are both attempting the same means of discovering the truth, however Hamlet’s is mostly serious and delivered with speeches and soliloquoys of sincere self-judgment and pondering, whereas Polonius’ is seen as a buffoon and an old fool (in all senses of the word.)  Inside of these two characters, we can see the same story being followed along different paths, and in my opinion, the jocularity and drollness of Polonius’ path only strengthens the seriousness of Hamlet’s in the audience’s eyes.

What I guess the real question is, is since both characters meet their death somewhat via these “indirections”, is that the moral of the story?

Now, these are all preliminary thoughts, mind you; and judging by my own perusal of all I just wrote, it seems that Polonius was a bit of a typecast for me, but whatever.  I’m at the beginning of my discovery process with this play, and only time and rehearsal shall tell.  I’m going to start my process by focusing on this mirror between the two characters, and well…just see where it takes me.