Work session, 6/16/10

present: Dale, Scott, Jeff A.

It’s been a while since this blog has been updated with any work we’ve done, even though we’ve been working a little during the winter and spring. Tonight, however, we dug back in in earnest.

One night in May, we met in Dale’s backyard, where he revealed his scathingly brilliant idea: disassemble the entire play and rearrange it in what we hope will be a powerful new sequence. Enough about that for the moment.

Tonight, Dale started out working with Scott on I.2, where Edmund first sets Edgar up as a traitor to their father. The goal was to strip out all “acting” and see how close to everyday speech patterns we could make it. Jeff joined us midway and we cycled through all the roles.

Scott moved us into I.4, the Fool’s first appearance, and we tried the same thing. It was interesting to go over the scene again and again and see where we could pull away from that huge sense of theatricality embedded in our perception of Shakespeare and take it as far towards “mumble-core” as we could.

We talked about the insane asylum image Jeff came up with in May. We joked about needing alcohol, et al., and perhaps including a bar at one end of the performance space for the actors.

We wondered whether we could be brave enough to do the thing with only the three of us. Jeff suggested a framework of the three of us reading through it and leading the audience into the world of the play that way. Dale referenced Shakespeare’s R&J, playing this summer at Serenbe Playhouse, which does just that, and Gatz, now playing Off-Broadway, which does the same thing with The Great Gatsby. Still, we discard nothing.

Jeff suggested that one way to work on the play with only the three of us committed at the moment is to study the storyline of Lear, the Fool, and Edgar. We began with the storm scene, III.2, and moved to III.4 (first appearance of Mad Tom), playing the scenes over and over to start to sound the rhythms of each set. We also played with varying stages of undress to see how they impacted the scene. Lots of discussion–and artistic nodding of heads–regarding potential nudity (!), but of course no commitments on that subject.

We have our path mapped out now, pending the adding of others. If anyone is interested in Gloucester and Kent, those would be the characters we would need to add next.