Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Lady & The Bard

February is the longest month. Annually, I am engaged in the Great Lakes Theater Festival Outreach Tour. With the exception of last year's tour, this means putting my writing on hold for six weeks, my days spent in the office and my nights in rehearsal. This year we are presenting Daniel Hahn's Twice Told Tales of the Decameron which is a physically demanding piece of work. It is also tricky on the tongue.

Marketing Director Todd Krispinsky asked me to contribute to the GLTF artists blog on the production, which I have been only too happy to do. But I have had little to contribute to this blog. Or at least, nothing yet. It does not mean I have not been working.

For example, I am reading a thick book, A Shadow of Red by David Everitt, which (in keeping with today's theme) was a gift Daniel gave me after the 2008 GLTF Outreach Touring production, Seeing Red. This book deals specifically with the Blacklist in radio and television. How that differs from the Hollywood Blacklist ... well, that's what I am reading to learn. This is very helpful and informative as I piece together the post-Centennial career of Bernard Schrader, and how his work as a scriptwriter for radio may be viewed by those searching for Communist influences in the media.

Meanwhile, I have also continued to work with the Young Ladies of Noble on The Lady, which will be presented later this month. I did not imagine that creating a ten-minute play, incorporating eighteen (and now nineteen) ten year-old girls, with six forty-minute rehearsals, would be an easy task. Having said that, I have been delighted and surprised to find that it has, actually, been an entirely stress-free endeavor.

Ms. Eisenberg, Noble art teacher and counsellor for the Young Ladies, has been extremely helpful, acting as assistant director and defacto stage manager, keeping track of everything I am too dizzy to remember. All the girls grab pencils, take notes, remember everything, we pick up week to week from where we left off, and move forward. We have two more rehearsals in the actual performance space (the cafeteria) where we will be concentrating on projection -- on being LOUD. We may need to use microphones. But they each are doing a splendid job memorizing their lines, creating interesting characters. I am very proud of them.

Okay, as if that weren't enough the beautify my world yesterday, I was also summoned to the Cleveland School of the Arts (Cleveland Metropolitan School District) to act as a judge for the in-school competition for the English Speaking Union's National Shakespeare Competition. The winner would be sent to the regional competition downtown on Feb. 26.

The CSA is blessed to have Dr. Scott Miller as and English teacher and drama coach. He's just amazing. I was a little early and came walking into his class to witness an all-class project dramatizing Hamlet's To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy. This has nothing to do with the ESU competition, stuff like this happens in Dr. Miller's class every day. It was obvious the entire class had been working on the piece for some time, about ten kids, it's got choreography and original writing as well as Shakespeare's text to really get inside the head of someone considering suicide -- but choosing not to.

Then I saw ten high schools students perform monologues from Shakespeare with a commitment, understanding and excitement I rarely see in people so young. So much life, so much hope, so much deserved self-confidence. It was not easy choosing one to send to the regional competition. I live for such difficult decisions.

Harry E. Davis School
Temporary Home of the Cleveland School of the Arts

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