Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Dramaturg's Thoughts on the Production Footage

As the dramaturg for this production I mostly wrote these blog posts over the last couple months. Living on a different continent, I won’t be able to attend any of the performances, but Tony asked me if I’d like to watch some production footage and write a few thoughts on the show, so here I am! Here are some things about the performance that seemed especially strong:

  • How well the actors had prepared. Each actor gave a strong, dedicated and shining performance. I kept being impressed by different actors as they gave their individual speeches, maintained separate personas for each character they played and really brought their “A game” to this endeavor.

  • How quickly the actors were becoming a company. In most shows the actors have a lot of time to build up a rapport with one another. There’s a whole run of rehearsals, and maybe bonding exercises. In Shakespeare’s day the core of a particular company often stayed together for years, and produced hundreds of shows together, one can only imagine the teamwork they would display. It was something I looked for in the footage I could see of Taming, and what I saw was a group of actors vigorously accepting each other’s choices, and running together. I saw laughter as they got ready to sing together, I saw chemistry in the couples, I saw enthusiasm in the dialogue (dialogue that they’d only been able to rehearse together over one day?) This struck me as one of the most impressive parts of the show. These actors embraced their identity as a team, and together, really sold the show, and I could tell that that unity would only grow as they became more and more comfortable with each other.  

  • The tricky bits of staging. There were so many pieces of the play that required special attention. The singing, the stage combat, (complete with ukulele and an over the shoulder carry!) the massive group scenes all of which take a lot of rehearsal time in normal circumstances, all looked as though the actors trusted each other and were totally in control of the situation.

  • How much attention everyone paid to the text. While this was true of the actor’s delivery, it was also true of the costume choices. Ferando did have a red cap! The various servants did wear their master’s colors and insignia when described. When substitutions were made (for the various foods mentioned) the actors clearly sold the cookies or crackers as the “Beef and mustard” or whatever food it was supposed to represent.

  • How well this text works as a play. Despite working on this play as a dramaturg I am still much more familiar with Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew version from the folio, and this is the first time I’ve seen the bad quarto version staged. I was totally delighted by the pair of younger sisters, and I really enjoyed how much the cast brought out the protofeminist leanings of this text as opposed to the folio.

Those are my thoughts for now! On a more personal note, I’d love to congratulations to the cast and crew on such a fun show, and thanks to Tony for asking me to work on this project with him. It’s been great being part of the team.

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