December 2, 2008

the last stretch

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Twelfth Night is in its last stretch, the ultimate chapter, the final moments. As we zoom into production, and we lose sleep over the late rehearsals, and we nitpick the play apart, I'm reminded of why I began this project in the first place...

... good old fashioned humor.

Seriously, this play is funny. Yes, Shakespeare could go on for a bit too long, and some of the characters seem a little arbitrary, and there are some antiquated words and long-winded speeches, but... really it's quite funny. Every night I find myself laughing at the same jokes. And mind you, I have now seen this play four times in the last month (not including this one). Every time, the same old jokes get me. I mean, this stuff is hilariously funny.

The challenge of this project was/is two-fold. One: to combine Commedia dell'Arte, British Pantomime, Americana, and Shakespeare. Now the Americana fell away, the Shakespeare was a given, we discovered the amazing technique of Zoologic Acting (which is just a fancy term for walking around like a wild animal on the hunt for innocent prey), and suddenly... well holy moly we have this really wonderful new theatrical style! I call it a Clowning Play, as after all it's a bunch of little tumbly clowns up on the stage running about, poking each other, making cheeky off-handed comments, and messing up one another's story-lines.

Two: to scale Shakespeare down so 5 women can play all the parts. In this case of Twelfth Night, I rewrote it for 9 characters (doing away with that silly Antonio and irksome Fabian, but preserving the over-looked and oft-neglected Sea Captain), adding all sorts of exits and entrances to get the actors on and off so their characters don't have that awkward moment of Hello, Friend, who is also played by me, how are you? Wait, let me run over here and take a new stance and talk in a different voice and be the other character with whom I am having a conversation. Wait wait, hang on there, I have to run over here now and be this guy, because doesn't he respond to what I just said? No, not yet, I have to cut you off, and then you sneeze, and then you respond. Hold it, I haven't gotten into place yet for this other character. Ok, go! But, well, that happened anyway, multiple times. And actually, it's quite hilarious. So we come full circle to the issue of HUMOR.

Humor: 'fluid or juice of an animal or plant'.

Ick. Well I guess when I laugh hard enough fluids or juices flow through and out me. Especially after a sip of milk or soda.

Good Humor: 'Sufficient or satisfactory for its purpose to be moist. Ample, excess, full of liquid.

Ew, that's more than ick, that's inappropriately explicate. But, well, like I said... with a glass of soda and a joke, anything can happen (and in either direction).

So, back to the root of this ramble, this project was started because I needed a good laugh, and I needed you to have a good laugh; and here we are, mere days from the technical rehearsals, and snippets of time from the dress rehearsal, and a little hop and a skip from Opening Night. OPENING NIGHT! Eleven months ago I sat down at the computer to maybe, probably, if I felt like it, rework a little Shakespeare, and now....

... now we're just a whistle from blast off! It's all in the name of humor, say I.

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