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TOPIC: Concept for Performance

Re: Concept for Performance 3 years 3 months ago #5250

  • rusty
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We had a female Balthazar and had aimed to maintain some sexual tension between her and the Prince (of the what goes on at war stays at war basis). This gave a really fun/uncomfortable moment of Balth signing a pointed Hey Nonny Nonny to the Prince. We lost a good chunk of inpact of this however by having a female playing Pedro (as a male). Always hard getting enough boys!

With the Love badgering scene we kept Leonato of to the side as a very minor player and built on the, already established, boyish teasing between Claudio & Benedick.

Good-luck with the production, I look forward to hearing how it went.
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Re: Concept for Performance 3 years 1 month ago #5293

  • John Zuill
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We have our last night tonight and it has gone very well. Tight cast, very focused. We had it outside in a park somewhat close to the street but after some firm vocal work that doesn't seem to be a problem. We are packing em in.

Balthasar was a woman in our production as well, in a salty version of same and with some sexual tension with Pedro but she brought the song out to the audience as a sort of proxy for the song she was singing to Pedro. That worked. The audience liked it very much.

Leonata ( Leonato) worked very well with only a few academics quibbling about the sex change. I would say that sexual identity in Shakespeare is supremely unstable even when there is no particular reference made to same. What seemed like a male point of view voiced by Leonato and Antonio, inverted neatly into a female perspective in our production. As a woman Mayor Leonata had a fierce by short sighted motherly instinct that was uprooted and derailed by the plot by John. Lionesse-like indeed. The attack on her integrity, apparently from her daughter but really from John, made for the profound fall of a great spirit.

So that worked. B&B were probably the most popular part of our production. We didn't try anything different for them. We had a good Rada actor play Benedict with macho flourish and walked-into-a-wall stupid when he finally falls for Beatrice. Beatrice is a very talented untrained-actor nurse from north of england with roots in Jamaica. She has a lot of cultural nuance to draw on and she can pull tricks out of her background easily with vocal intonation. They both did very well.

Our Claudio might be of some interest. As ussual I was rock bottom for choice of men or indeed anyone. What I thought I got for Claudio was a emotional volcano, young but trainable. Claudio, to me, is a bit of pastey faced romantic whimp without much other interest. ( See the Branagh film) so I was looking for someone rough. What I actually got was a over expressive, would be clown actor. The combination worked. My Claudio's sense of ebulliant humor balanced the foppishness of the character while lending Claudio a kind of pathetic determination that the audience could laugh at if they chose. He also did the funeral scene well which I was frankly dreading. We had him walk off to the memorial so the audience could listen to Balthazar sing which was much better than watching Claudio sniveling.

Another part I was dreading was Dogberry as I said before. I never really got my head around Dogberry, but the guy who got cast was ex-Royal Navy, and a life long bureaucrat. He was like a duck to water. Most of the good ideas came from him.

I hope this is useful to anyone else who directs his show. I really hope more people who direct write their experiences on blogs. Rusty's perspectives were fundamentally useful.

Next up: in about a year, i think I'll be doing a Hamlet of some kind.
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Re: Concept for Performance 3 years 1 month ago #5295

  • rusty
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Well done John!!! I'm really pleased to hear about your success - you have to love the practical challenges of putting together the cast to match your concept and changes that those selections make.

I am really pleased to hear your Balthazar and the song to Prince - I loved this concept but due to cast of one girl and a girl playing a man (very well - but the restrictions are always visable) I lost the impact I hoped to get from this song. You've confirmed with me that this is a great concept when cross-casting. The critics who can see beyond this point really need to restrict themselves to performances of like minded people.

Claudio is a tough one. My previous experiances acting in this play have always included the pasty young and it really was a non-role. Similar to yourself we played him rough (remembering he is capable of the feats of a Lion), obviously officer material and arrogant. My young actor was South African and we deliberately used his natural way of speaking (really going back to the blunt, slightly stilted Dutch/German origen) to maximise impact as this style can sound a little rude to an Australian ear. I loved our Claudio and would recommend people think beyond the pasty man.

I had a similar experiance with Dogberry - the comedy really does have to come from the actor or it doesn't work. Great role!

Let me echo your thoughts on asking people to share experiances, learns and even early concepts to be developed - I've learned so much from others comments of others and glad to hear I could also be of help.

Good luck with Hamlet and I look forward to hearing about it. We are reprising Much Ado in December as an outdoor show at McLaren Vale Winery followed by a indoor winter production of Twelfth Night in a couple of Barrel Halls during Winery festivals at McLaren Vale & Penola.
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