The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0579 Monday, 27 March 2000.
Date: Friday, 24 Mar 2000 13:52:02 -0500
Subject: Shakespeare Marathon
I went to a couple of the staged readings in the recent Shakespeare
Marathon staged at Applause Books. (Carl: thanks for posting!) The
purpose was to use the Folio text to illuminate staging practices. They
didn't have enough actors to go around, so I read Mistress Overdone in
M4M, then came back a couple of days later for AW. Since only one other
woman showed up, I got to play both the Countess (I got pretty sick of
"Old Lady" speech prefixes) and Diana. A Freudian quinella.
My attitude changed the instant I was handed a script-I went from being
a relaxed spectator to an anxious and resentful player (only two
scenes-I ask you!). Interestingly, most of the people there had never
seen or read M4M, and NOBODY, including the organizer of the Marathon,
had read/seen AW. It was an odd sensation to be the only person in the
room who knew how it was going to turn out.
Things I learned: it's really hard to know when to bugger off the stage
if your exit isn't clearly marked; it's hard not to trip over the other
people doing the same thing; there are lots of scenes where people come
on and go off for no very good reason; and Shakespeare didn't place a
high priority on making sure that everyone in the company got a
satisfying part instead of playing three different feeds/straight men. I
always knew Bertram was a terrible role-not only is it unplayable,
there's hardly any stage time. Perhaps the original actor was a remote
ancestor of Keanu Reeves.