So we recently opened Much Ado and it was a great night under the stars in San Diego. Also, due to the Rep format since there were essentially three openings in two weeks, this last opening was followed by the official opening night party which was a great opportunity to cut loose for all the cast and company complete with a 90′s inspired dance party afterwards.
Since then things have been going pretty smoothly with the biggest surprise thrill in the last few weeks being a peacock, apparently loose from the zoo, making its way backstage. It also apparently tried to upstage the actors with its mating call during the show. Balboa Park also experienced a pretty significant black out last week. It led to the cancellation of all shows that night, but it was amazing to watch the staff and crew out here as they so adeptly dealt with the crisis of figuring out if the power would be back in time and when it was not, the plan to let over a thousand patrons know of the cancellation.
Before we opened last week, I had the opportunity to be a part of one of the Insight Seminar’s The Old Globe frequently has. These are hour long sessions on Monday nights in which patrons get an opportunity to meet members of the company and have a conversation about process, ideas, and other insights about the production, most times before these audience members catch the actual production. For the Insight seminar on Much Ado, I was able to sit on a panel with the director Ron Daniels, the Set Designer Ralph Funicello, as well as the two leads George Hatzi and Jonno Roberts, who are Beatrice and Benedick and also married in real life. The conversation was great as the audience for the festival is one that is very smart and savvy and have gotten to know different productions of the same play as well as the various directors and company members who have worked at the Globe.
One of the most interesting points was the role of the director with Shakespeare. Ron Daniels, in many ways was interested in making the focus with this production, be as much about the actors and text and possible, and being if you will being an “absent” director, or a director who makes everything flow and move so seamlessly and naturally that you are drawn into the play and don’t step back to analyze things otherwise. This is something that is much harder to do then it appears, and something that I as a director have never been as interested in. So, in general it has been nice for me to work with someone who has a differing view from me. Its also something not obviously totally achievable since the director is there playing a hand as soon as he chooses a setting for the production, etc but this idea of whether the Director as an artist makes his hand obviously clear and present on a production or handles it with a lighter touch is an interesting one I think.
The larger insight for me from this seminar though, was the revelation that for some reason we feel we have to work harder when it comes to Shakespeare. That due to the complexity of the text and the language, that somehow its harder work and we have to do more to make the plays accessible or clearer. When it reality its Shakespeare, one of the world’s greatest playwrights ever, and rather then have to work harder you need to actually do much less and trust in the text and the brilliance of this playwright. This might not be something that is revelatory to most but I don’t know where in my experience somehow Shakespeare became associated with work and heavy lifting as a director, when actually the opposite is true.
So there you have it, been a full and eventful past few weeks here. Next week we head into rehearsal for Love’s Labour’s Lost which I am directing for the Shakespeare Intensive program here, and looking forward to. More updates soon and hopefully less peacocks.
P.S-Below are some images from the show as well as of the infamous bird. Photos are courtesy of Henry DiRocco, Jeffrey Weisser, and Bret Torbeck.