Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Eternity was in our lips and eyes"

A rare treat today. Instead of fretting over blocking, or barking orders to phalanxes of Romans, it was just me an' Antony an' Cleopatra.

That's not to say I don't enjoy working with everybody else in the cast, because I surely do. It is a daily delight to see what everyone is bringing to the table, and already I feel like a grain of sand on a vast beach (a very talented beach...hmm, no, my metaphor has stalled). But it's also nice to work closely with just a couple of actors now and then, to eke out of them more intimate performances when they don't feel as though all eyes are watching them. Which is an odd thing to say, because of course acting is all about all eyes watching you...and so is being Antony or Cleopatra, for that matter. But it's a funny thing about actors -- they tend to be very shy right up until they're primed to hog the limelight.

Anyway, John and Monica did some lovely physical work, distinguishing the different "modes" of their characters (Antony in command, Antony furens, Antony discandying; Cleopatra performing, Cleopatra stalking, Cleopatra stripped). They figured out how to manipulate or steer each other into different modes. They got really silly, like lovers do, making animal sounds and gestures (I fully intend to hang on to some of that stuff for the show -- it's simply too precious). They also looked at some of the later, harsher scenes, to figure out how they can really hurt each other. So, to the moon and back, essentially.

A lot of good stuff happened. Good, exciting stuff. Both actors are concerned that their physical and vocal choices are too big, too broad -- at one point John cracked a joke about William Shatner -- but I have every confidence that, if and when the time should come, they can rein it back. But until then, the second Golden Rule of Shakespeare rules the roost: Go Big or Go Home.

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