I just finished my first rehearsal for a production opening in October. It was just me and the actor playing Pisanio and Iachimo (we're doing a lot of doubling). We talked through his first few scenes and made some interesting discoveries.
When Pisanio first appears, it seems as if he doesn't know the royal family all that well. They don't call him by name. The language is all very formal. The actor and I decided that before the story started, he mostly served Posthumus privately. Now Posthumus is gone, and "He would not suffer me / To bring him to the haven." We decided this is Pisanio's first time in the throne room, and it's his first time talking directly -- and at length -- with The Queen and Imogen. He's a little nervous and he's now jobless (his master has been banished). He asks Imogen to "employ me."
When we played the scene as a job interview, all the sudden the stakes were raised and the actor had something to latch onto. The interview basically continues through the next Imogen-Pisanio scene, until the very end when Imogen says, "Those things I bid you do, get them dispatched." Pisanio now has a job!
(Prior to that, Imogen is begging Pisanio for details about Posthumus. We decided that all Pisanio knows is that Posthumus got on a boat and left. Everything he tells Imogen is extemporizing. He's hoping to comfort her and please her. He's not all that good at it initially. He's not an actor. But he warms to it. Eventually, it because easy, because like Imogen, he loves Posthumus. So it's not a chore to wax poetic about him.)
I love Pisanio's first line: "My lord your son drew on my master." There are so many ways one could say it. It could just be a piece of reportage (here's what happened). It could be dripping with irony (My lord your IDIOT son...). It could be doused in pride (My lord your son drew on my NOBLE master). Keeping with Pisanio's intention of getting a job, he has to use the line (and the next few speeches) to subtly imply to Imogen "I'm on your side" without tipping off The Queen.
As for Iachimo, we spent a long time pondering his scene in Imogen's bedroom. He's so torn between looking at her (and touching her) and doing what he came there to do -- gather evidence he can use to win his bet with Posthumus. The actor and I agreed that in real life we wouldn't have this problem. Honestly, you could put me in Michelle Pfiefer's bedroom and ask me to steal something, and though I'm a heterosexual guy, I'd have a pretty easy time carrying out my mission. They actor said he would too.
So what gives Iachimo such trouble? We decided that -- all his bravado aside -- he's woefully inexperienced with women. The only women he's ever slept with have been whores. This is his first time alone -- in an intimate sense -- with a beautiful lady. As with our Pisanio decision, this immensely raised the stakes. And it made his boasting (and bet-making) with Posthumus all the riskier. Knowing he's taking a big chance (Posthumus threatens to kill him if he loses the bet), Iachimo boldly claims he can seduce Imogen. When he actually tries to seduce her, his attempt is almost as lame as Cloten's. More evidence that he's not very experienced with women.
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