Sunday, June 10, 2012

Henry VIII: Double Run-Through

On witnessing the 1996 RSC production of Henry VIII ...

"It makes you realize how little things have changed. When one is born into a certain position you have people advising you all the time, whispering in your ear. It's only when you get to my age that you begin to work out who's telling you the truth." - Charles, Prince of Wales

This morning the company of Henry VIII performed a double run-through. We planned to run it out of doors, but the neighbors finally got the CHPD to order us to no longer rehearse out of doors, at all. We had violated the 9 PM "noise curfew" ordinance two weeks ago, which brought the original complaint. For last night's dance call we moved indoors at 8:58 PM, but honestly I do not blame those living in the larger homes along Euclid Heights Blvd. if one more rotation of Portishead's Hunter had them scrambling for the Seconal.

Just as well we were in the auditorium today, with highs in the upper 80s. I am concerned about what kind of weather the company may face this summer. Tomorrow is "dry tech" or more to the point, a night off for the actors while I get a tour of the Notre Dame space.  In that way, the company will have had at least one night off before they open -- and then immediately resume dress rehearsals, this time for As You Like It.

It is supposed to rain tomorrow night, and Tuesday, but then clear up for the weekend. What can I do about it, anyway, I am a director, I'm not God. Wait, that's a line from something, right?

We are in a fine place, considering. The show is complete, and in good working order, leaving only the addition of costumes. Back in April I condemned this script as "terribly complex and stupifyingly boring." While I will admit it is lacking in any fight scenes, this production more than makes up for it with a song and a dance, passion, betrayal, loss and remorse, anger, humor, and the most annoying hipster you will ever meet. It is tight and brisk and just as long as it needs to be, and not a moment longer.

How has this worked out so well? Because I am OCD, or so I have been described, I don't know. And because I have sought the not just learn from past mistakes, which is easy, but not to repeat them, which is much, much harder. Unlike my previous efforts at directing Shakespeare (and Bromley) I did not "make an effort" to keep the show under 90 minutes, I edited the script so that it would be longer than 90 minutes.

I want seamless action and an uncluttered stage. There is no furniture. Okay, there is one piece of furniture - but I insist it does not represent a "set" It is a prop.

And there is truth in that old saw, 99% of directing is good casting. When you are putting together a repertory, as we have, it affords the possibility of offering meaty roles to great actors in one show, and then asking them to do a walk-on in the other show. For example, I had the great fortune to nick Rosalind and Phoebe from AYLI to play a set of put-upon interns in Henry VIII. I am very happy with the entire company.

It's taken fifteen years for me to finally direct a production for CSF, which is odd when you think of it, because practically everyone else has. At least once. Usually only once. But at least I have taken that time to scrutinize what CleveShakes is, what its limitations are and its strengths, and tried to use them to my best advantage.

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