I don’t know how to describe the moment when something on stage is transformative. You cannot make it happen. You work, so that all the doors are open for this moment of magic to rush in. When we rehearse we talk of being “available” so much so that I think it has now lost its real meaning. Being in the moment is another equivalent, but what I realize again, the moment of magic is not about you, the performer, it is about the life of the story set free again for another group of people. Its like we pay the ransom for this kidnapped, contained life by doing all we can getting out of the way, learning our parts, researching the story etc. to invite this moment of magic to live and in that mystery words are fleshed, people transformed and a new truth whispered into the audience’s ears. Best not to know how it happens, and an invaluable experience of which I am always deeply grateful to have been a part.
Following an adventurous five-month process of living and learning with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar we’ve come to our final show. In one sense, it’s a show like any other in that we desire to communicate the truth of the story. On the other hand, our final show carries with it an added sense of anticipation as our last opportunity to share Julius Caesar with our audience in this setting. The Atrium space at the Church of the Transfiguration has been a generous venue lending a timeless and unique voice to the story. Following the show Sunday night the set will be removed and disappear in only a few hours.
We are grateful for all the generosity of everyone involved with the Julius Caesar production. Before the show each night everyone on set gathers together. Between the makeup and hair dressers, musicians, lighting and set crew roughly 60 men and women have helped in the story telling each night. And countless more throughout the preparation have given generously: Nick Sandys choreographing the fight scenes, John Douglas Thompson, Michael Sexton, Louis Colaianni, and Claudia Zelevansky involved in an intensive Shakespeare retreat the week prior to opening night, carpenters and painters creating the set, seamstress and designers creating costumes, and endless creative contributions.
“How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over, in states unborn and accents yet unknown?”
This was the phrase that was used to introduce the “Acting Shakespeare Retreat” that we had this past week. This retreat provided a time for actors and lovers of Shakespeare to spend a concentrated time immersing themselves in Shakespeare’s work. Some of us in Elements were able to come to some of the classes and discussions and take part even though we weren’t on the retreat. As part of this, we all met with John Douglas Thompson for a master class. He started by telling us his story of how he became an actor. Needless to say I found this inspirational! His story began with a man in his twenties, as a corporate computer salesman, and led to his to becoming an actor. He came to acting a little bit later in his life, but it was his passion for the art that made him what he is. We also were able to observe while he helped some of the retreatants with their monologues, and his main comment was to just say the words as if they were your own. He said the challenge is to make Shakespeare’s beautiful language not seem foreign to your mouth; make the text a part of you. Shakespeare is providing us with a vehicle for our emotions to ride in. He doesn’t ask us to recite beautiful poetry; he creates human characters for us to inhabit. I think the phrase “Passion, I see, is catching” is the epitome of my feelings after this week.
“Mischief, thou art afoot; Take thou what course thou wilt.”
A friend, benefactor, and father figure has been murdered. Caesar was not killed like a “sacrifice” as Brutus desired, but literally hacked to pieces.
Caesar picked Mark Antony up when he was down, a runaway, deeply in debt, and then tutored him to become his second-in-command. Caesar entrusted Mark Antony with his armies as well as his political fortunes while absent from Rome. He welcomed Antony into his own household as one of the family.
Seeing the body, Antony is filled with feelings of loyalty and gratitude to Caesar, and anger and vengeance toward Brutus and Cassius. Mark Antony nevertheless gives Brutus and Cassius a chance to give reasons “why and where Caesar was dangerous.” None are forthcoming.
Emotions run high, but Mark Antony, the battle-tried general, takes over. In the course of a very short exchange over Caesar’s body, he quickly forms a plan to move the people of Rome to revolt, while maintaining a calm demeanor with Brutus and Cassius. His training in Greek rhetoric comes in handy.
Surprisingly overly trusting of Antony (much to Cassius’ dismay), Brutus gives him the perfect opportunity. Having summoned a crowd, Brutus turns them over to Mark Antony, and exits. The rest, as they say, is history.
And a fantastic play is like Chocolate to me, I can’t get enough!
I just saw the new video about Elements Theatre Company and I love it! It is challenging to portray a drama group to the fullest extent that this group will stretch . With dedication to the truest form of honesty, in their costumes, rehearsal, and stage sets they have agreed to work together, and the outcome is amazing.
Take a look and let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you.
Here’s the link:
Elements Theatre Company
While you are here- check out where they are touring with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on the tours page.
Elements tours 2012