Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Reading of Our Discontent

The title to this entry doesn't technically make any sense. But when you try to be cute, logic is sometimes sacrificed. The point is, last night was the first read-through of Richard III.

The whole cast wasn't present, however. One or two small roles have yet to be cast, and about 5 people who do have roles were not able to attend for various reasons. "Richard" himself was about an hour late due to the email mentioning the meeting being lost in his spam folder.

But we pushed on as best we could, starting with a brief overview of the royal family tree of the time. Actually is is more of a family bramble, so many twists and turns does it have. But the director felt, and I agree, that understanding the basics of it would help keep the characters within the play, and their relationship to one another straight, I am in a way fortunate, as Buckingham falls outside the genetic entanglements. His name wasn't even on the chart the director drew for us. I am amused by that.

The director also took us to the stage to give us an rough idea of what she envisions in terms of set designs and other concepts unique to this particular production of the play. Going into some of those details here wouldn't make much sense, as one probably needs to be familiar with the venue itself. But suffice to say, in her own words, that this director "loves symbolism". I can also say that the play will be in no specific time period. "Achronic", as it were.

As to the reading itself, it went about as well as can be expected for having so many people missing. Most of the actors with large roles were there, after all, for most of the evening, and they all seem to have a firm grasp on the language. I mentioned in a previous post that there are several friends of mine in this show, but also plenty of people I haven't met before, but I get the early sense that this group will get along well.

I was already testing some of the character ideas I had for Buckingham since getting the role. (I try to infuse as much as I can even in the first reading of a play.) Right now I see him as that guy who is trying to network his way into his ideal life, and has usually succeeded. The most successful real-estate agent in the kingdom who always makes the sale. The guy who can do so because he is smooth and personally likable to most people around him. No mere sycophant, Buckingham believes he is well on his way to being a confident of a king, and in so being is thus able to accomplish all of the personal goals he has for himself. Anything from having land to starting a company and such will be made easier being the side-kick of the king, and that is what he wants to be. Right now, I don't see him as wanting to be king himself.

He does see in Richard, however, the right amount of ruthlessness and ambition to get the crown, and Buckingham, while personally admiring that to an extent is more enamored with catching this wave by helping to guide it to shore himself. And he is successful at doing so...until the end of course.

There are one or two passages in this abridged text that I trip over a bit as I read them. That, however, will of course be cured with time and practice. The director was wise enough to allow a larger amount of time for rehearsal for this play, in fact, than most plays. The standard play has about 6 weeks of rehearsal. This one will have about 8 weeks. We won't even be required to be off book until late July, because the director wants us to be worried as little about lines as possible. A generous approach that I believe will reap large dividends in the end.

Schedules for rehearsals are not yet devised, but will be soon and sent to us via email. I have more conflicts for this rehearsal period than I usually do, but not many compared to most actors I have worked with, so I don't anticipate a problem. I hope you will join me once again as I undertake not just another production adventure, but a Shakespearean adventure to boot. Check back often, loyal blog readers. Always Off Book will be hopping again in the near future.

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