Saturday, June 23, 2012

Clown Blob

Man!  Things are movin’!!!  A play in rehearsal lumbers along initially (actors with heads in the script, trying for truth and missing a lot).   Of course it  gains momentum as it goes, and our production of fractured HAMLET is no exception.  As a matter of fact-----for those of you familiar with childbirth----it’s a bit like that.  Once contractions start, there’s no going back.  Right?

Only in the case of a play…….it’s expansions. 

Last week, something kicked in.  Whether it’s actors getting partially off-book or just becoming more and more familiar with the text, there was a kind of explosion on all fronts.   Characters started talking to each other with laser-like intention.  I could feel an electric current fire down my spine as I watched.  Everyone seemed to take on new thrust and energy.  The actors could feel it too and there was a sense after a scene like…..Wow!  That works! 

Nothing on the planet is more thrilling.

And then the Clown Workshop happened.  Tom and I have cut three of Shakespeare’s OTHER plays (Othello, Macbeth, and R & J) down to 3 minutes each, and the players perform them before the longer play (HAMLET) begins.  Like they’re a troupe of gypsies on the streets, performing for whoever’s passing by (a bit like Salty Shakespeare, actually). 

So clown master, Jon Monastero, came to work with the Players last night, and his work was genius.  The actors already knew the short pieces have to be played fast and furiously.  And BIG.  But Jon vaulted them to another level…….that made me laugh out loud.

And the actors.  Oh, the actors.  THREW themselves into this work like they had been born to Commedia.   LARGE double takes and triple takes to the audience; gasps when something went awry; Mac and Lady Mac giggling with glee as they murdered King Duncan and Oh anyone else who happened to be around the castle.  Which is exactly the impression you get in the real MACBETH-----that they’re killing EVERYONE------but clowning makes the villainy laughable.

Oh hard to explain.  Come and watch these guys do the pre-show.
And laugh.  Before we get down to some SERIOUS death in the other one!

Wow.  I love what I do :)   

Nancy Linehan Charles, Artistic Director
Salty Shakespeare

 Photos By Susan Cobb Vincent of Vincent Photography

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Bout Them Rapiers!

I’m pretty Green and Liberal so I’m a little ashamed to assert

that there’s nothing sexier than 2 men fighting with rapiers.

What a shame it all degraded into guns because there’s nothing

as beautiful as the elegant moves behind those long, steel, clinking

swords.  Right?  I mean there are so few of Shakespeare’s plays that

DON’T end with someone slashing SOMEONE with a poison-tipped

rapier.  Well, okay, the comedies.  But he had to put a lot of clowning

in to distract you from the fact that there WERE NO SWORDS!!  It’s

practically not Shakespeare without it.

And when you see these 2 guys playing Hamlet and Laertes (Sam

Hardie and Kevin Railsback)-----both at least 6 ft. tall-----throwing

themselves into those long elegant lunges……..well it won’t be the sun

that’s making your girlfriend swoon (“Lay not THAT flattering unction

to your soul….”).  These guys are GORGEOUS.  Come see for yourself.

Bring your girlfriend.

Nancy Linehan Charles, Artistic Director
Salty Shakespeare

 Photo by Susan Vincent of Vincent Photography

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I want to talk about inspiration

I want to talk about inspiration.  Not mine, certainly, but that bright light that walks in the door unexpectedly in the form of an actor.

Things are moving along with HAMLET, but there are times when I feel like a traffic cop on a dam in Holland------ushering people here and there to accomplish what they want…..sticking my finger in the dyke to hold off the deluge until juuuuuuust a teeeeeeeny bit more money comes in.  (Whew!  I was concerned I couldn’t mix those metaphors without drowning.)

Anyway, yesterday I had a rehearsal for just The Players-----that zany troupe of gypsies that comes to Elsinore causing murder to OUT!!!  These guys barely know each other and Tom Beyer and I have written 3 shortened versions (we’re talkin’ 3 minutes each) of other Shakespeare plays:  OTHELLO, MACBETH, ROMEO AND JULIET.  These players will perform them as a pre-show to HAMLET. 

Yesterday we got down to serious blocking of these pieces of fluff, and the actors THREW themselves into it, coming up with bits of business that fractured me.  Working with each other in the finest collaborative way.  Cracking me and each other up as we worked.  I am really the traffic cop;  they are the sleek Mazzerati that zooms through the intersection, pulling all focus.

I love actors.  They’re the funniest,  bravest people on the planet.

- Nancy, Artistic Director of Salty Shakespeare

Photo by Susan Vincent of Vincent Photography:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

HAMLET Rehearsals Begin - Day One at the Marion Davies Beach House!

 There are days that just honestly feel like you’re Dorothy waking up in the Emerald City.

Yesterday was one of those days.

All the actors arrived at the Annenberg Beach House at 10:30 am and we were officially installed as Artists-In-Residence for the summer. For a bunch of theatre rats like the Salty Shakespeare crew, it felt like we had shown up for the usual black box affair and instead found ourselves at Buckingham Palace.

At the Queen’s invitation.

We immediately began what we call a stumble-thru of the play. Because, understand, we’ve been rehearsing for 2 weeks in a freezing park in Santa Monica, blocking the play over the roots of trees, to the shouts of Little Leaguers working towards the All-Star game.

We adjust.

But lo and behold, we found that all our cold, hard work paid off. There we are in the gorgeous sunken garden of the Marion Davies House, with no less than seven possible entrances and exits------and they all worked!! We get to do the play as Salty Shakespeareans do it-----in and among the audience. And the acoustics are great! Because the courtyard is sunken, the sound is contained nicely.

So all of our playing across and in and through works like gangbusters.

We’re ecstatic!!

Afterwards, we celebrated our Producer, Linda Wickens’ birthday with red velvet cake, and we all drifted to our cars, reluctantly leaving our newly acquired palatial digs. I smiled as I left, using my keys to lock our official office door, feeling like……ya know what?.......we deserve this!! We’re GOOD!!!