Skyping Shakespeare: The Hidden Room’s International Collaboration on Rose Rage
Berns enters and has a screen in front of the discovery space broadcasting an image of Skype, she explains how she brought over British actors to the stage to audition, cast and rehearse a show. Berns advocates blocking via video conference although she does stipulate that they do not choreograph fights over Skype.
Why do people hesitate to work with people far away?
An actor referred to as Lawrence heads to the downstage back of the space.
An actor referred to as James then calls us on Skype and says “Hello everyone in America” the sound is adjusted.
They turn off the Skype camera and get back to Lawrence.
Three men come on from upstage, Lawrence from off stage reads his lines while one actor enacts his blocking in front of the audience.
After the actor silently embodying Lawrence trips over a cord we pause and then Lawrence asks for a few different stage pictures which Burns directs them in.
Now Lawrence is announced to have arrived in the states from the UK and Lawrence enacts the blocking he learned over Skype.
Berns remarks that Lawrence incorporated everything that Jude (the body double) suggested.
Lawrence goes onto explain how he found some of the choices Jude very interesting,and they influenced his interpretation of the scene.
Then Berns and James play a game where she had him stare into her eyes where he saw them on the screen and then give a similar gaze into the camera to show the audience the difference.
Lag is important to manage. One has to mitigate the lag as much as possible through tech and practice
Actors naturally find a rhythm that works with lag.
Daves and James an(suit) d another man act a scene together across Skype until James phone goes of, but then they continue, when James wants to make eye contact he looks directly into the camera
James says fairwell and is turned off
Dr. Davies, who was an actor in the original project, tells a story about making noise in the kitchen while rehearsing over Skype his father came in and asked how many people were on his computer and he replied “About thirty-five”
Berns puts on a scene with half international actors and half from the states to show off the results of the Skype rehearsal project.
The blocking was well defined, all the actors seemed certain of where they were supposed to be when, no one was upstaged and they were able to interact very naturally and had clearly had sufficient rehearsal.
Robert Matney the tech designer meantioned that theater practitioners are usually luddites. We present a live, real alternative to other entertainment.
We need to retain what is precious about live theater but it is important to overcome luddite tendencies and if you use technology to your advantage you can fold and flatten the world. It is worth the extra effort to be able to rehearse with people on the other side of the world.
Variants in the Quarto and Folio texts of Richard the III
Carrell explains that in the Quarto and Folio Richard the III have a lot of small differences, different names, and punctuation differences one speech 12 lines shorter but in Act one, Scene two there is one other massive difference…
Three actors take stage and start the Richard III and Lady Anne scene from the 1597 Quarto. Everything goes as expected and at the end when Anne leaves and Richard says he’ll take her but only or a short time, the audience barely reacts at all. We are not sure he has won Anne as thoroughly as he thinks he has.
Now they perform the folio.
I Q1 Richard offers her a ring and delights at the way it looks on her finger, when they get to this point in the Folio she offers him the ring first and then he silently gave her a ring and had the same line admiring the way it circles her finger. The reaction of the audience was quite noticeable, and the actors related to each other much more sympathetically for the rest of the scene. The shock was much greater then, after she left and he callously said the same dismissive lines, because we had just seem what looked like a marriage ceremony or at the very least an engagement and he was already making it clear that his vows of love were lies.
Carrell said he came to the idea when he was in an unrehearsed cue script production as Richard III and performed this very scene, he thought he knew what to expect, but when she offered him the ring (which he wasn’t expecting) it really changed the scene.
Carrell asks audience what they think.
MFA student Kelly Elliot says that the moment when Anne offers ring makes Richard’s later speech a much bigger reaction.
Carrell advocates taking advantage of the many sexual jokes. Whitefriars, where Richard says he is going next was red-light district of London.
One little switch makes such a huge difference, so it is really worth it to check the differences between texts.
Modern audiences are used to proscenium staging, movies, privacy, technology, and less human contact. Early Modern audiences had no privacy, and theater was a communal space where space and light were shared.
So, why would Shakespeare and his contemporaries encourage a rowdy audience to participate in the show with audience asides and soliloquies where the actors directly address the audience and ask them questions?
In places like sports stadiums and Rocky Horror Picture Show modern audiences still get rowdy, shout, and in the latter case (but we hope not the former) throw things at the stage.
Rick Blunt performs Falstaff’s Honor speech. Julia asks him to try if first in the “first circle Stanislavski” style and ignore the audience. Julia asks the audience to talk back and heckle Blunt.
The audience heckles Blunt while he desperately tries to do his scene and ignore the audience. The audience got so loud it was difficult to hear Blunt whose character was having an internal discussion. Someone even threw a wadded up piece of paper at him.
The second time Julia asked Blunt to engage the audience as much as possible.
Blunt responded to every shout out and really connected with his audience, the speech with the question and answer format made much more sense the second time around. The audience never got as rowdy as they had the first time, by interacting with the, Blunt was able to keep them in check. Audience interaction was a form of crowd control.
If the play was a disaster on first performance and authors weren’t usually paid until second or third performance.
Nelson explains that the first was similar to modern staging where actors are encouraged to not acknowledge the audience. She then opened the floor to questions and comments.
The actor from the previous scene, known as Lawrence, had been doing Trinculo as audition speech then got the role and then at first performance an overly talkative audience member started interacting with him duringa sene:
L: What have we here a manor fish?
L: A Fish. Dead or alive?
The interaction calmed the unruly audience member down and worked well with the scene.
Another audience member pointed out that we police the audience using the lights, when the audience can see each other they are much more likely to interact. What allows us to hoot and holler is that were sharing the same pool of light.