Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Great Globe Itself: Opening Week

Art is never finished, only abandoned.
- Leonardo Da Vinci
The tour has opened, The Great Globe Itself is on the road. We have had warm and receptive audiences at Talespinner Children's Theatre in Cleveland, Workshop Players, Inc. in Amherst, and Berea-Midpark High School. There have been many laughs, some surprising, but all received with great enthusiasm from the acting company.

This was evident from the final dress rehearsal, for which we crammed about a dozen close friends into the rehearsal room. It was surprising to me how much of the written work was actually funny (nothing can be proved to be funny until a human being actually laughs at it) but also how successfully our performers are selling it.

From the first, the strongest reaction we have received are for the accents, especially the Original Pronunciation. However, OP is not the sticking point I was afraid it might be. The opening moment, when characters from all time periods represented in the work enter, introduce themselves, and their words overlap, hopefully give the audience an indication that OP will not be the lingua franca of the entire show.

There are several moments in which the actors use, move into or move out of the audience space. This has been a unique challenge in every venue, and one I was looking forward to seeing. At Workshop, a tiny space with audiences on three sides, it is almost as though we were in the Globe itself, and as I have experienced in tours past, the actors had great fun throwing the blocking out the window, to use the entire playing area.

High school audiences can be a little logy when the performance is first thing in the morning. They folks are Berea-Midpark were polite and receptive, laughing more quietly to themselves than out loud, until Mark Antony's oration, when they seemed to wake up and buzz and feed James's performance with response and applause.

Marion L. Steele High School Thespian Troupe #1422 (2015)
Since we began attending Workshop Players as a stop on the tour, Valerie Farschman has brought her drama club to see the show, every year since 2010. This year, however, we were also happy to see students from Garfield Middle School (Lakewood) in attendance. Each group of students came prepared with great questions about the production and our acting company.

One sixth grader, a girl my daughter's age, was very curious about the conclusion of the performance. Why does the retiring artistic director say he is "surrendering his power"? We discussed how (spoiler alert) the character of Prospero surrenders his power to leave the island at the close of The Tempest, so too an artist must eventually abandon their work. I was struggling to remember who said that bit about how art is never finished, merely abandoned but I couldn't remember who that was, he probably wasn't very important.

In the play, during the 2005 section, we make reference to a certain British science fiction program that was "rebooted" that year. Why? Because time and space are themes of the production, and as every scene is about what happens before the house opens, I was trying to think of small talk that night pass between to modern, professional actors.

I knew this brief conversation might get a few chuckles from our younger audience members, but I wasn't prepared to see them practically bouncing in their seats with giddy disbelief and excitement. It's as though they were watching this play about all of these things they may have never seen before, and suddenly the characters were talking about them.

Great Lakes Theater 2015 outreach tour The Great Globe Itself continues through March 31.

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