Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Piecing Together a Jigsaw: Love’s Labour’s Lost in Rehearsal

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of assisting with the Love’s Labour’s Lost rehearsal process. Love’s Labour’s is the first of three productions—the second is Twelfth Night and the third The Duchess of Malfi—which the 2012/13 Tempt Me Further touring troupe will put on the road from this fall through the spring. Their tour, like all tours at the ASC, culminates in a period of residency at the Blackfriars Playhouse from mid-April to mid-June next year.
Working with the touring troupe was an inspiring experience. From Rick Blunt’s Armado to Patrick Earl’s Berowne, these elven actors are skilled at making bold character choices, discovering the strength and clarity of those choices in rehearsal, and listening to their creative instinct to strengthen and clarify those choices even further. The troupe, therefore, possesses the free-flowing ingenuity necessary to bring Shakespeare’s colorful characters to life, and counterbalances those impulses with two clear, editorial eyes. The first of these eyes is the inner eye of the actor—his or her natural instinct to adjust a moment to improve its effectiveness. But the second, larger eye watching over the production is that of director Jim Warren.
 Jim Warren has the ability both to deepen and to simplify each individual moment rehearsed before him on the stage. His attention to detail—from choreographing the movement of the four ladies’ parasols to match the mood of the scene, to carefully choosing each moment that the Forester should hock a loogie into his spit cup—made one of Shakespeare’s wordiest plays an effective and hilarious production. While in less capable hands, the sheer verbosity of Love’s Labour’s Lost could have been whitewashed into triviality, Jim Warren directs Shakespeare as one would assemble a jigsaw puzzle, discovering each individual piece, however minute rotating it, moving it, and finally slotting it into the exact necessary place. This process repeated meticulously with each new piece until the jigsaw was complete, creating a beautiful picture. 
In the midst of this creativity, I held book for the actors to call “Prithee” (the ASC’s equivalent of calling “Line”). Despite my small contribution to the process, however, I always felt a part of this beautiful picture. I will never forget what Jim told the whole group on the first day of rehearsal: “We all have different jobs to do for this show,” he said, “but we are all important. Never before has this group of people been brought together to put on this production, and it will never happen again. Each person is essential for the group to exist. So let us always respect one another’s work and be grateful of this opportunity ahead of us.” Truer words to live and work by I have rarely heard.

Lee Ann Hoover, Education and Dramaturgy Intern 

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