Thursday, July 28, 2016

Not a Fighter

Two rehearsals this week for Macbeth. (There were supposed to be three, but I'll get to that.) During the first, we blocked my smallest scene in the play, where I play a murderer as opposed to Malcolm. (Murderer 3 to be exact.)

This will be my third Shakespeare show under this director. Because she is trained in stage combat, and because of the nature of the shows she directs, fight scenes are a nature part of these shows. Having played Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet, and Buckingham in Richard III, I had no need for fight choreography before, but I swore I'd need at least some this time. Being a murderer who attacks Banquo, I'd have to learn some kind of trick, surely. I was looking forward to it.

But surprise, I'm still not in the club of stage fighters. The director has staged the scene in such a way that of the four people on stage during this scene, I am the only one who doesn't do any fighting. (Should I be taking this personally??)

All jest aside, she did give me a motivation for why I am not doing any fighting even as "Murderer 3." I've ever encountered that scene being played in that fashion, but I posed no objections to it. The truth be told, almost all of my creative energy for this play has been devoted to creating Malcolm, and I'd not given  much thought yet to the murderer scene. (Other than the ironic assumption that some sort of stage fighting would be part of my responsibilities.)

It's early in the rehearsal process still for this October show. I had every intention of given further consideration to the nature of the tiny part at some point. In fact I still will, given the new information given to me about this scene. And had this been my only character, naturally I'd have been digging into him, and the scene more in depth from the very start. From day one, though, Malcolm has been the priority. Still is, to tell you the truth. Yet, I've got some things to ponder with this tiny role now that I didn't have before.

It was back to Malcolm the following day. (Tuesday.) We worked the scene after the murder of Duncan, when everyone comes rushing in, and discovers the truth. Though I have only a few lines in the scene, I have a lot to do. In some ways, I have more to work on in this scene than any of Malcolm's others, if I want it to be smooth. (And of course I do.) I'm playing Malcolm as usually a man of few words, for whom it is uncommon to emote strongly. ("Why do we hold our tongues?" He asks his sibling in this very scene. I've been taking that to heart.) The murder of one's father could be one of the times more get through to the outside world, of course, but I have a balance to keep between legitimate effect on the man, and the outward less expressive nature of him.

Some of that is shock at the news, of course. Some of it is is, as I said, how I am playing the character. Either way, I must not just throw away the lines and the scene. It's the last time the audience will see Malcolm for quite a while. (After intermission in our production.) And the next time they see him, he presents as a new man, in my interpretation. I have to be in  just the right place.

Plus, it's just before Malcolm flees to England, a major development in both the play, and in my interpretation of the character.

Unfortunately, these two rehearsals took place in the cramped lobby of the Black Box Arts Center. That is because a sort of last minute production of one-act plays moved into the space about a month ago, and have been using the stage. As much as I enjoy this space that I helped build (literally) some years ago, all spaces have their weaknesses. One of the weaknesses of the BBAC is lay out and size. Though often open to more than one event at a time, in my opinion there is not enough room for two shows to rehearse within its walls at the same time. And since the one acts were in their tech week and insisted on quiet, you have a large group of people rehearsing a Shakespearean scene that requires yelling being allowed to only whisper, and move about on a space less than half the size of the eventual performance space.

Far from ideal.

To that end, our third rehearsal of the week was cancelled. That would have been tonight.

The good news is that the one acts run for only a weekend. On Monday, they will be finished with the stage, and Macbeth will, I assume, have it for themselves. (For a while, anyway. The plan is to eventually tear out the platform stage, and make the venue more flexible by having plays, starting with Macbeth, perform on the floor.)

Plus, though it may be a big moment for my character and me, because it's mostly internal, the focus of the cramped rehearsal was on the movements of just about everyone else in the scene, especially Lady Macbeth. It's still early, though, as I keep saying.

Also tried on some army surplus uniforms one of those nights. Fatigues. That will be, as per the director's vision, the base costume of most of the men. Given the choice, I'd choose something else, but I suppose what I envision for Malcolm remains mostly unaffected by that. I did find some stuff that fit, at least.

One doesn't usually get this much time to prepare and rehearse a play, and despite a few issues, I'm thankful for the luxury. The whole show, as well as each actor, has more room to breathe and create than is afforded in the standard 6 to 8 week rehearsal period.

Next rehearsal for me is next week sometime.

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