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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Q: Elizabethan Staging
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0416  Monday, 4 May 1998.

From:           Ron Ward <
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Date:           Sunday, 3 May 1998 10:16:07 +1200 (NZST)
Subject:        Elizabethan Staging

I have just been talking to a friend who is a professional actor and
took part in a recent production of Comedy of Errors at Bats Theatre in
Wellington New Zealand. He tells me that they used Elizabethan rehearsal
and production methods. This means that each cast member was given copy
containing only their own lines and cues from the last few words of the
previous speaker. Apparently this was done to prevent pirating. A prompt
sheet was pinned up backstage with fuller but by no means complete
directions, and a prompt to try to sort out any confusion on stage. This
also meant there was no blocking of the action and a great deal was
expected of the actors in the use of stagecraft. E.g. on the first night
the speaker of lines may not have been unobscured by other players. The
prompt was essential in sorting out problems. My friend described it as
living on the edge but no worse than sight reading music from part
scores. Has anyone else tried this? Has the new Globe tried this? If
they have used Elizabethan underwear for authenticity they should try
out the production methods also.  Perhaps our current methods show too
much organisation and not enough spontaneity. Any comments?

Ron Ward
 

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