Last night we rehearsed Act V several times. It is a short act, especially in our production. At most 15 minutes. Obviously it's an important 15 minutes, and we've spent several rehearsal night over the last month on Act V alone.
This will be our final one, however, as starting tonight we will be rehearsing entire halves of the show, and then not long afterward, stumbling through the entire show each night.
Yes, it's getting close. We open in less than a month.
Yet as for last night, I give myself mixed reviews. The final speech of the play is Malcolm's, and it was one of the last things I worked on getting off book for. I am so, but at times there are two places in the speech that I tend to trip over about half the time. I don't know why, exactly. Partly, I guess, is because it's not a particularly great speech. Partly because of the pressure of ending the entire play with it. Partly a few other things, I'm sure. But in the three times I did it last night, I needed to call for line the first time, totally botched the second time, but managed at last to deliver it in its entirety on the third and final run through of the night, much to my relief. I won't swear that means I'll have no more trouble for the rest of the rehearsal process with that speech, but I have proven that I do "have" it in me, and that goes a long way.
In the speech, Malcolm, now king of Scotland, thanks and rewards his followers, sums up what he plans to do first as king, and mentioned that when the time is right, he'll do whatever ever else needs to be done. Then he thanks everyone again and invites them to see him get crowned.
St. Crispin's Day speech, it ain't.
Still, it's my longest single speech in the pay, by word count, and it will be the final punch in the show, so I want to make sure I get it right. I don't want all the action of war and running in Act V that leads up to that moment to come to a crashing, boring halt on my account. I don't think that will happen, and I certainly don't want to implant that fear too deeply into my mind, but I wanted to at least mention I'm aware of the speech's place in the production, and the work and vigilance required of me to keep it going as well as I did at the end of last night.
I will say that on the most successful of the run-throughs, I delivered the speech as though out of breath from battle. Perhaps that is a clue as to how the speech should be given? Not, as I usually do, as some grand oration. It's utilitarian. It's functional. I need not be poetry, (though written totally in verse, almost.) It's like exposition at the end of the play. A strange place for it, but I can use that description to guide how to deliver it, perhaps. Malcolm is restored order in Scotland, and the speech is the first gathering of that restored order. If I approach it like that, I think I'll feel more comfortable with it, and if I am more comfortable with it, if I can relate to it, I am less likely to make mistakes. That is my theory at this time.
Act V is also the only act wherein Malcolm is directly military, in a sense, leading an actual battle. He comes in and out quickly, with a few short speeches here and there in the rest of Act V before the close, and I'm for more comfortable with those section for whatever reason. Though I will feel even more at ease when they can be blocked properly; because of the ongoing remodeling of the venue, we have yet to run any scenes with the actual blocking, as one main exist is blocked by lumber and equipment. I had hoped by now we'd have that route cleared, but it happens when it happens. It might lead to some confusion, with the new structure and traffic patterns, and less rehearsal time than ideal. But I'd rather exit through the wrong door than make any number of other mistakes. Besides, I imagine I'll get it right, once we can run it over and over.
Tonight, Half One. (A term I use so as not to confuse it with the "Act I" of the text. The half wherein I play Malcolm pre-kingly. Not to mention two other tiny characters consecutively. I think I'll try some costume pieces in those scenes, just to get a rough idea of what sort of timing will be needed. Plus I want to make sure that both are highly distinct from both one another and from Malcolm.