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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: July ::
Re: Adriana
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0576.  Saturday, 22 July 1995.
 
(1)     From:   David Jackson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jul 95 14:33:11 est
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0570  Re: Adriana
 
(2)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jul 1995 16:22 ET
        Subj:   Adriana
 
(3)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jul 1995 17:15:44 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Adriana
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Jackson <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jul 95 14:33:11 est
Subject: 6.0570  Re: Adriana
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0570  Re: Adriana
 
A word of caution about "not wanting" the character to come across as shrewish.
I agree with the intention, but it's dangerous as an actor to approach a
character from the "not wanting" him or her to be perceived in some way or
other. I remember directing a play not long ago in which one of the actors said
"I'm not going to play my character as dour and lacking humor". I agreed that
these traits were not the only ones that should appear, but they were still
clearly aspects of the character. She went ahead and rehearsed, saying most of
the lines with a forced smile on her face (whenever she remembered that she
didn't want to be "dour"). This gave the effect of someone who was still dour
and humorless, but with a lunatic edge. Eventually I suggested that she play
the character with all the traits she did see in her (and I allowed her to pick
only two moments in the scene in which to smile), and we ended up with a real,
believable character. In other words, if you see certain traits inherent in the
character, don't "play" them or "not play" them; let the whole person come out,
and it won't be a cartoon.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jul 1995 16:22 ET
Subject:        Adriana
 
The current production of _Err_ at Stratford, Ont.  (a terrific show, I think,
if you have any tolerance for post-modern shenanigans) carries over from last
summer a take on Adriana initially forced on the company by carnal imperatives:
the actor playing the role was pregnant.  The idea proved so theatrically
effective that although she has long since given birth to the child, she wears
a fine prosthetic tummy that sustains the image.  It warms her up no end.
 
Gravidly,
Dave Evett
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jul 1995 17:15:44 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Adriana
 
Sarah Cave asks about Adriana in COE.
 
One of the delights of my life is that I've been allowed to direct three
productions of COE, two professional and one university.  My experience has
been consistent: the audience always loves the show and finds Adriana likeable,
pitiful, and extremely funny.
 
This may have something to do with the fact that I've had three of our best
actors in the role (Elizabeth Huddle, Joan Schirle, and Bethany Larson).  A
good enough actor makes every role appealing in one way or another.  (My three
Richard IIIs were all likeable monsters.  The invitation to this kind of
complexity is one of the things which make Shakespeare so appealing to actors.)
 
Adriana does, indeed, behave like a shrew.  She beats her servant, she
complains all the time, she won't stop  talking, etcetera.  But she's not just
a shrew because we see that this behavior isn't constitutional.  The thing that
makes us care so much for her is that her behavior all seems to spring from a
terrible insecurity and hurt.  She has made the self-destructive mistake of
letting others define her worth, particularly  her husband.  When he doesn't
pay attention to her, it must be because her beauty is fading.  She tries to
blame it all on him but it doesn't work; she doesn't even convince herself
fully.  The dominant impression we get from her is of NEED.  She's a
co-dependent ingenue wearing the mask of a brutal shrew.  If Antipholus of
Ephesus (the jerk) would just give her a little loving attention, she'd be
fine.  (Still co-dependent, I'm afraid, but able to enjoy life.)
 
This is an extremely "playable" view of Adriana.  It gives the actress what
actors most need: contrary tensions simultaneously pulling them in different
directions.  And it allows the kind of abrupt changes of mood which are so
opportune in farce.  But the heart of it is "heart."
 
Your roommate is in for a wonderful time (if her director is daring enough to
give her room to play it full tilt).  Best wishes to her.
 
Roger Gross
Univ. of Arkansas
 

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