Monthly Archives: October 2010
My most recent Facebook status update reads: I’ve discovered that my propensity to blare 80s music in the car is directly proportional to the amount of time I’ve spent in tragic Shakespeare land.
Some boys take a beautiful girl…
I love doing Shakespeare. I do. I love digging in, stirring up my darkest, grittiest emotions, stepping into costume and becoming someone else. There’s nothing else like it, truly. But, let me tell ya. It’s all fun and games until you have to cry over your daughter’s dead body twice a show for 20 performances. Seriously. Do the math. As we dive into our closing weekend, with five performances left to go, Juliet has thus far lain in front of me, poisoned or bleeding, a total of 30 times. That’s 30 times that I’ve had to kneel over my prostrate daughter, lament the reasons why she has taken her life, and say goodbye for the last time. Even though it’s all pretend, I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t get to you after a while…
Thus, the 80s music, the happiest music I know, blaring from my car stereo the morning after each performance. For some reason, I’ve realized, nothing balances out the tragedy that has taken up temporary residence in my life quite as well as a little Cyndi Lauper.
…and hide her away from the rest of the world…
The realization hit me about a week ago as I found myself struggling to pinpoint the right song on my ipod while speeding down the 5. About the same time, I realized that I wasn’t the only one. The dressing room has become a mighty boisterous place as of late, and I can’t help but think it also has something to do with other cast members reaching for this sense of balance as we travel deeper and deeper into the darkness of our repetitive devastation. For instance, joke telling has become a nightly competitive event and, in between scenes, one can find actors and intern actors, mostly led by Capulets Zander Johns and Dakota Spease, laughing it up as they try to outdo each other’s punch lines. Also, the juggling. We are lucky enough to have Kevin Six, aka Mr. Montague, in our cast, who has apparently spent his youth hanging out with the Ringling Brothers. Kevin has taken it upon himself to introduce us to a variety of circus stunts, most of which I will never master but in which the interns have shown surprising expertise. Kristin Perkins, our lovely Petra, has pretty much mastered the multi-colored bean bag juggling by this time, though everyone was aghast when Kevin stepped up the game by introducing turquoise-colored bowling pins last week. Wait a minute, we all thought. Surely, the juggling interns aren’t ready for the bowling pins! What would be next, I asked him, knives and things on fire?? Even though no one really had any luck with the pins, as Act Two of the show rolled around (aka, the Really Sad One) cast members with time in between scenes found themselves unconsciously reaching for the juggling paraphernalia, as though hopeful that throwing a few balls or pins around for a second might have the medicinally uplifting effect as one of Friar Lawrence’s herb potions.
I wanna be the one to walk in the sun…
It’s a dark place to live every night, Verona. Yes, in the beginning, it is quite fair. But post-intermission, it is a different city, one where you can find half of the town residents at some point or another sitting backstage, heads bowed, eyes damp and sighs heavy. It’s enough to make you hope that, perhaps one night, it will all end up differently. Sometimes we entertain ourselves by pondering the possibility that if just one character in this play does something differently, everyone would live happily ever after at the end of the story. But who? There are, of course, the go-to scapegoats. The Friar is the most obvious one, followed perhaps by the Nurse or even Capulet. Even Romeo and Juliet can be blamed for their own devastating ends in one way or another. But my favorite one to blame the whole crazy story on by far is….Balthazar. Absolutely. It’s completely Balthazar’s fault! Yes, he’s young and innocent and thinks he’s doing the right thing by telling Romeo of Juliet’s death. But, come on! If he had just stayed out of it, the Friar’s plan would proceed according to schedule, and we would have our happy ending. The idea is actually catching on. We have a theme song in the works entitled “Blame Balthazar” sung to the tune of South Park’s “Blame Canada.” Ben Schaffer, who actually plays Balthazar, is working on a sequel to Romeo and Juliet which he refers to as “Balthazar’s Revenge.” Erin threatened to make Blame Balthazar commemorative t-shirts, which I think is an absolutely brilliant idea.
So, as closing weekend rolls around, we savor and fear our final moments in the depths of tragedy. Keeping the balance becomes even more important when I think about the fact that life doesn’t exist without contrast. The negative defines the positive. The valleys create the hills. And, in our play, there would be no tragedy if there was not first a great and overwhelming love story.
Even though I understand this, and continue to blare the 80s music in recognition of it, I have to admit that there isn’t one performance that goes by when I don’t secretly wonder if somehow the play will end differently tonight.
…and girls just wanna have fun.
Tiffany Tang (Lady Capulet)
Someone commented that I must have a lot of patience during the second act. I am not in the second act and hang around the greenroom until bows. I had to consider this conjecture. Patience implies some act of endurance, a weary drudge one must go through, fishing. Patience has nothing to do with my role in the second act as ghost of the greenroom and, mostly, quiet observer. I love the second act.
The green room of the second act is a play itself which I am both audience to and actor in. The entrances and exits are all as well timed as those onto and off of the stage. The unwritten script gives room for any new witticism but is also comfortable in its familiarity.
Like the play going on a courtyard away, there are ensemble scenes and solo scenes. The first moments of the second act are wild onstage consequently the greenroom is quiet. From inside you can hear the monitor that is positioned just outside the stage door from which the sounds of the fighting, and then more distinctly the Prince’s resonate and angry voice drift to where I sit. Then the music for the scene change starts playing and Juliet will walk on stage for one of her more well-known monologues. No one in the green room will be able to hear. The fight is over and everyone trickles in from the blackness.
Sean will enter smiling or talking happily, a giant wound in his side, and this off-stage show I am privy too continues. Sean will go to the coffee machines. Dakota and Ben, fellow interns, head over to the corner with the computer where, until their next scene, they will discuss and joke about prank calling some business or other, which they have yet to do, or look up pictures of giant pumpkins. There is talk about how the fight went. James begins his transformation from Tybalt to Apothecary by dutifully applying makeup to the bottom of his feet. He rubs his feet together to make them look dirty and smiles inviting me to join in some joke about this application. I cannot, having never learned proper stage makeup technique. This seems like a perfectly legitimate method to me and, I am sure, it looks just fine.
Inevitably, someone, usually but not limited to Chris or James, brings up the topic of Mexican food which seems an inexhaustible mine of conversation — different little Mexican restaurants with different burritos and tacos. They will compare and revel in the fact that they go to the same places. There are stories of Mexican food when they were young, waxing reminiscent of burritos consumed long ago and then burritos to hopefully be consumed very soon.
Kevin, not onstage, offers up jokes and advice on juggling, going around calling every one kid-o. Durwood, just when you think he is completely absorbed in his own little world of an iPod laughs and adds a sarcastic joke of his own. They will talk about what they would say if the impressionable interns weren’t here and then grin knowingly at each other. There will be references to pop culture of a bygone age, which I will be told I am too young to understand and which will usually be true.
People will enter and exit. One of the climaxing moments I had come to rely on was Howard entering to put on his heavy black funeral coat on those hot days — such sacrifice for the art as he faces the mirror and dabs away beads of sweat. Of course this last week it has cooled down considerably and the scene is lacking the emotional depth it once had.
This is the show I watch every night and it never fails to intrigue me. In the end the greenroom is deserted by even me for curtain calls but it will fill up to brimming quickly after. Even Erin and Michael, Juliet and Romeo respectively, can join us then after the show is done.
It’s a different play back here than it is over there during the second act. Over there on stage people are dying and crying and kissing and yelling. Here it is a different story all together, almost scripted but not quite, and, unlike the play onstage, this one ends happily.
Kristin Perkins (Intrepid intern playing role of Petra)