Sunday, May 27, 2012

Henry VIII: Pageantry

I love to sing-a.
And the moon-a and the June-a and the Spring-a

This afternoon I had a conversation with a reporter for the Sun News about the production. And I found the play is not difficult to talk about, it's actually pretty straightforward. You just have to make sure the subject stays on what the play is, and not so much about what it isn't.

When I first agreed to the production, I assumed there would be "pageantry" though I could not imagine what shape that might take. The more we commit to the contemporary look and feel of the production, the more any kind of classical pageantry, with formal dancing and choral odes would seem awkward. If we cannot find a modern way of presenting any aspect of the production, it just won't fit.

And so the party is an office party, crashed by the King and a few of "his guys" dressed not as masquers, but in a disguise which is at once contemporary and a little obnoxious, in the effort to bring life to the party.

Think Prince Harry coming to a costume party dressed as a Nazi, or Ted Danson in blackface. I mean ... we aren't doing that. Only something kind of like that.

Later, during the midst of divorce proceedings, the Queens requests a song to cheer her mood. This would be an odd request for someone to make at the office, but one of her people makes it work. And others join in. It's like that scene in Magnolia. Only different.

Yesterday we worked the song, just me, four actors and Rachel, the stage manager, talking through, singing through, and working through the song, with lyrics and without, stopping and going as necessary. Great progress had been made by the end of two hours, and we will revisit the piece on Tuesday.

The wife has forbidden me from ever again using the term "sausage fest".

Laura, our Katharine, recently joined the company in rehearsal. For two weeks we have been working non-Katharine scenes, establishing mood and attitude. Moving into the scenes with Katharine, it was stunning to me how different her character is from the rest. More conciliatory, open to compromise, calling things as they are, devoid of ulterior motive. Neither scheming nor clueless.

Two weeks in a hall of boys gave me insight as to why dudes like to direct Mamet. I am not saying I would, Mamet is a myopic bucket of shit. But I understand how one could.

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