Report: 9/3/08

Present: Dale, Marc, Greg, Dan, Jeff B. (Kevin was at a meeting.)

The problem of the night: who was to play Coriolanus? We started by having everyone state the roles they would like to play; we wrote people’s initials next to the characters. It was a pretty even distribution, i.e., we all liked almost all of the roles. (Dale and Jeff were the only two who expressed an interest in Coriolanus, though.)

Then we read through IV.5, where the boys meet, from the opening through the boys’ exit, five times. Each of us read Coriolanus. Then, and history will not believe this, we voted via secret ballot on whom we would cast. Jeff got it by acclimation.

Finally, we sorted ourselves into the remaining major roles, texting poor Kevin in the middle of his meeting with the news that we had forced him into Coriolanus. This confused him so much that when we told him he was really going to be Menenius, he didn’t know whether to believe us or not.

Here’s the cast so far:

  • Coriolanus: Jeff Bishop
  • Aufidius: Dale Lyles
  • Menenius: Kevin McInturff
  • Sicinius: Greg Lee
  • Brutus: Dan Coleman
  • Volumnia: Marc Honea

Marc also thinks he can double Titus Lartius, and we’re holding Cominius for others who might be joining us. Virgilia and Valeria we left up in the air, although Dale likes Valeria and it would be very interesting for Aufidius to double Virgilia.

We really need some extra hands at this point, to help fill in all the other little roles that clutter this play.

Report: 8/27/08

Present: Dale, Marc, Dan, Jeff B.

The problem of the day was the final scene: what does it mean and how do we stage it?

Dale wanted to start with Coriolanus’ death, the hard part. We futzed around a bit, and then Dale shared a moment he wanted to steal from another production the review of which he had read this summer: Aufidius does his last speech trying to pull Coriolanus’ body up by himself. He calls for others to help him bear C’s body offstage, but even with his last line, “Assist!”, no one moves. He is left clutching his true love to himself.

We played that, liked it, then worked up to it. The final attack on Coriolanus evolved into a choreographed death scene, naturally. I won’t describe it here, because if audience members are reading (or begin reading) this site, we don’t want to spoil the surprise. But it mirrors the opening and provides us with a shocking image of the two men for the ending. Dan came up with the perfect close to the play, which solved the problem created by no one assisting Aufidius in the traditional dead march.

We looked at V.5, that bizarre little pantomime of a Roman triumph, and found ways to have Volumnia scare the audience one last time.

Everyone has commitments this Saturday, it is Labor Day weekend after all, so we will not rehearse this Saturday. We will meet back next Thursday, Sep. 3, and we will make our casting decisions for the major roles at that meeting. Scary.

Report: 8/23

Present: Dale, Greg, Dan, Marc.

The Problem of the Day: what to do about I.4-I.10, i.e., the War. On the one hand, we have stage directions like Enter the army of the Volsces and Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their trenches. On the other hand, we have eight men at the moment. What to do?

We set as our goal for the day the creation of a score for these seven scenes, since the solution clearly lies in combining sound and movement to create a stage picture which the audience can recognize as “battles” or “armies.” In other words, we had to map out the dance, to be choreographed later.

In this we were wildly successful. We used our sticky sheets to write “video/audio” descriptions of each moment in the sequence, and drew stage pictures to go with them. Dale has now transferred all that information to his notebook, so we’ll have it for reference.

Dale had brought in two six-foot staffs, 1-1/2″ round. We played with those as both weapons and set pieces. (We also pole-danced, but that’s another story.) If we get large pieces of blood-maroon jersey, we can stitch those down either side to create tubes into which the staffs can easily slip. One staff + jersey = flag/banner/waving thing. Two staffs + jersey = gate/wall, etc. Now we easily have the gates of Corioles, managed by two performers.

In fact, two of the women in I.3 will become the “gate-keepers” as their “sewing” becomes the gates. Volumnia and Virgilia drop character, catch the two poles tossed from the side, we have racks of staffs on either side of the stage, and we change scenes to the battlefield.

The Battle Ballet, as we’re calling it, will consist of the cast evenly divided into left and right, recalling the ritualized warrior poses we opened the show with. Much drumming and hollering. Martius is dead center, narrating the fight with his two monologues, as the battle flows around him.

We used the sidewalk/greenspace vs. the raised stage in a number of meaningful ways, so that was fun. We have drums coming from “backstage” as well as from behind the audience to indicate locations of the different areas of conflict.

And the Title Match, as we’re calling I.8, begins with the blood-red flags running across the stage, leaving behind the assembled cast, staffs in hand, facing up, and Martius/Aufidius revealed on the raised platform. They fight, Aufidius flees, and Martius, cheated of his hand-to-hand victory, is left. Segue into the triumphant Roman camp, praising a clearly frustrated Martius, who has to climb down and join his celebrating friends whether he’s in the mood or not.

NEXT: Wednesday, August 27, 7:00-9:00, Newnan School of Dance. We’re going to tackle the end of the show and as many of the other scenes in Act V as we can.

Report: 8/20/08

Present: Dale, Greg, Dan, Jeff B, Kevin. (Marc @ previous engagement; Matthew working; Jeff A?)

We began by reading through IV.6, the scene in which the smug Tribunes are aghast to learn that Coriolanus has joined forces with Aufidius and is marching against Rome.

Dale isolated the bit where the Citizens come in, breathless with rumor, and immediately begin backtracking on their decision to banish Cor. His concern was that it was too easy to play them for laughs, as clueless yokels. He wanted to see if we could maintain the increasing disquiet of the scene.

After memorizing the three or four lines, we gave it a shot and were actually successful. Rather than fickle idiots, their cries of “We didn’t mean it” became dangerous accusations against the Tribunes.

Then we backed up and tackled the part of the scene between the Tribunes and Menenius. After one time through, we sat them at a cafe and did the scene again. Very nice, it gave the Trib’s self-satisfaction a nice, relaxed tone that gets shot down with the entrance of the first Messenger. By the time Cominius comes raging in, the Tribs are thoroughly rattled.

However, as Kevin pointed out, it’s not necessarily because they believe what they’re hearing. Rather, they understand that whether the rumors are true or not, they have a situation on their hands. (Which we see is true when the Citizens come in…)

At some point, we discussed the schedule, we have nine weeks until the first performance, 54 hours of rehearsal left. We can actually keep playing without casting for another week before things start to get tight.

We looked at I.3, Volumnia’s first scene. We had a lot to say about Volumnia, which I’ll let people either fill in in comments for this post or for the actual I.3 post.

Dale suggested at one point that Volumnia could actually physically abuse Virgilia, but that was generally discouraged: Volumnia is abusive enough without hitting, which Dale went on to prove with an absolutely relentless reading of her.

Throughout the evening, every time we ran through a scene, we shifted roles, which was nice, because everyone brought something different to each role.

Next session is Saturday, August 23, 10:00 a.m., Newnan School of Dance; we’ll look at the war scenes, I.4 through I.10. We want to look at the battles and see how we can make them look like something.

And we still need three or four more men.

Guys, I think it would be very useful in the next two months if we actually go record our thoughts about the scenes and characters with the actual scene posts. That way, once we cast, people can go look back at what we had to say in the scenes as we worked.

To that end, here are the links for

Report: 8/16/08

First work session. In attendance: Dale, Marc, Galen, Jeff B., Greg, Dan, Kevin. (Jeff A. and Matthew were both working.)

Dale taped up a sheet and drew a floorplan of the Greenville St Park performance area. The raised brick platform is about 40 feet across and basically 9 feet deep. There are stairs SL, and an L-shaped ramp SR. In front of the platform is a 4-foot wide swatch with shrubberies, and then a 5-foot-wide sidewalk.

There is a large green space (with drains C, L, & R), followed by a second and third tier of green.

We discussed our options with the space. The City has already said that we cannot build steps to bridge the sidewalk to the platform over the shrubbery (although we’re not sure they understood we meant a temporary structure). We’re probably going to perform mostly in the lower green space, three-quarter thrust.

We discussed our personnel. We still need a few good men. Dale will submit a PR release for the paper which invites interested men to join us.

We began to read through the play. We read through Act I and most of Act II. Galen and Kevin had to leave for prior commitments, and we began to summarize some parts and read others.

We decided that we would play with the script for at least another week before making final casting decisions.

We broke for lunch, and then afterwards we got on our feet and played with some staging ideas. We’re leaning heavily towards staffs as weapons/set pieces.

As an opening, Marc suggested a dumbshow/tableau: two figures (Cor. and Auf.) below, with a frieze of warriors behind them. That developed into drummed accompaniment, with Cor. & Auf. battling in stylized slow motion, while behind them the warriors strike poses with shouts. Finally, the godlike warriors break into the clumsy, malleable mob of scene 1 and sweep down the ramp to begin the play. An idea to play with, score, and choreograph.

We ran through I.1, up through Cor.’s entrance and commented on the dynamics. The whole play is a game of political strategy, and only Cor. is too “pure” to play it. Everyone else is, as Marc put it, constantly getting ready for the next battle.

Other ideas that floated about: the missing father, every character telling the truth, the homoerotic undertones.

Next session is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 7:00, Newnan School of Dance. We’re going to look at I.2 and IV.6, plus whatever else pops up. We’ll still be playing with the text, still holding off on casting decisions.

The nitty-gritty

So now it’s down to the nitty-gritty.

Questions to be answered, with some thoughts on answering them. Discuss.


  • When shall we do this? I’m thinking the last two Saturdays in October, the 18th and 25th. How about Sundays as well?
  • Where shall we do this? The new city park is actually not a bad performance space. Marc and I tested out the acoustics back in May, and while the last audience row cannot hear because of traffic noise, the rest of the seating is good. I am emailing Cleatus Phillips to see if we can get the space. What time of day should we do it? I don’t know that the park has lights for evening performances.
  • I offered our services to NCTC for a benefit performance or two, but their October is full. Should we offer a November performance for them?


  • When do we rehearse? This is the sticky question, isn’t it? I am going to propose a 2-hour rehearsal on Wednesday nights, and a 4-hour rehearsal on Saturdays, maybe 10-2 with a working lunch break in there. Given that we’re trying to use John Russell Brown’s “Free Shakespeare” concept and not over-work the play, this might be the ideal amount of time. Other ideas?
  • Where do we rehearse? My back yard is always available. How about the Newnan School of Dance? Wesley Woods has actually offered us a space.
  • I hope everyone is planning on this being a collaborative piece. I am not intending to “direct” this. Why should I, when we have so many incredible talents working on it?


  • It has not escaped my notice that no one has claimed the three of the four biggie roles. Be giving some thought to this.
  • Should we have auditions? I’m thinking we may not need them. So far, our company consists of
    • Dale
    • Marc
    • Jeff
    • Kevin
    • People who have said yes: Craig Humphrey, Matthew Bailey, Greg Lee (although that was last spring)
    • People who have said they’re interested: Jobie Johnson, Jeff Allen, John Caldwell
    • People I’ve contacted who haven’t said no: Dave Dorrell, Dan Coleman
    • Others: two young actors from NCTC that Jeff said would be good who are too young to be in Odd Couple and who want to do something this fall
    • Anyone else?


  • We’ve already talked about this: olive drab cargo pants, black and/or gray t-shirts, work/combat boots. Accessorize for individuation.


  • Keep it simple: some trestles, a couple of big pieces of plywood, maybe some big-ass pieces of fabric to wave around.


  • We need swords, and a fight trainer.

Getting started

  • We need to get everyone who’s interested together and swear an oath to accomplish this, plus hammer out some details. We need to do this fairly soon, because we will run out of time if we don’t.

Did I leave anything out?