My First Shakespeare
Today, we performed our tragedies, that we have been working on for the past few weeks. Ours was Timon of Athens, where I got to play Hortensius, Flavius, and the Poet.
Monday and Tuesday we rehearsed from early morning until late evening, doing our first ever full run, and discovering that Rodney hadn’t mentioned costumes to us, because he already had them all figured out for us. And props. Getting there on Monday was like Christmas morning with bags full of presents. We didn’t have to worry about anything except for the acting. We got notes after the runs, and mine were a lot about articulating and relishing the language, as well as slowing down. My speed is because I do generally talk fast, but on stage, it has a lot to do with trying to get my part over with as quickly as possible. I also have this weird notion that if I can say my lines really fast, it will prove how well I know them. Obviously, these are wrong.
It was on Tuesday night, when Rodney told us that this will quite possibly be our last Shakespeare and we should remember that and enjoy it, that I really got nostalgic. Shakespeare was something I wanted to be able to do for lots of reasons, such as crossing it off a list of things that scare me, and because people say that if you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything. None of my reasons had to do with actually performing Shakespeare for the sake of Shakespeare. On Tuesday night I realized that although I haven’t changed my dreams and goals, I’m not sure I really want it to be my last venture with the Bard. It might just be the incredible teachers or the amazing ensemble I got to work with, but as much as I wanted the stress and the nerves to be gone, I didn’t really want it to be over.
Which it is, now. We watched one group perform Julius Caesar, then the second group had Troilus and Cressida, before we put on Timon of Athens. I am really proud of probably half of my scenes, while I flubbed a line in one, and was completely out of it for another. I fumbled on a line, then had trouble getting a prop, and then for the next moments, I was so in my head about what just happened, that I wasn’t being present for my scene partner, which was the one thing I’d had going for me previously. If I were to rate it against all the other times we’ve done the play, some scenes were a lot better, some were much worse. But, all in all, I think we did a fine job. It was my first time performing in a Shakespeare play in front of an audience, and instead of being lazy with notes so I could blame it on a lack of effort rather than a lack of skill, I took them to heart and actually worked on them. I got a lot of notes and tried my best to deal with all of them, which I definitely did not do, but hopefully I improved. For one, Shakespeare and verse no longer terrify me. I don’t think I am particularly good at either, but if ever I have to do a monologue or a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays, instead of saying that I can’t, I will work on it, and know that I won’t be entirely dreadful.
I am going to try and summarize the entire experience in a future post, but as far as me and Shakespeare go, I have learnt so much. Not only have I read so many of his plays that I had never even heard of before, but I know what iambic pentameter is. I can figure out where there are shared lines. And, I got up in front of a bunch of people and I put my heart into it.
I want to congratulate all of my fellow semester students on their amazing work in the 3 plays, and I hope that once this is over and we all go home, that our paths cross someday. I will miss so many of the teachers and classes and warm-ups and rehearsals with my incredibly talented and dedicated and willing-to-help-out-the-newbie rehearsal group 🙂
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”