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Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Random Essay for Wuss-out Wednesday

Here is a little-known fact about a famous Shakespearean tragedy:  Romeo snored.  Of course, most of us snore at least sometimes, but the entire Montague family was known for their loud, incessant, obnoxious snoring.  When the whole family slept in the same castle, their snorkeling, snorting, gasping, grating, grinding, endless nighttime symphonies would have rattled the windowpanes, if they would have had glass windowpanes in the 16th century (I looked this up after I wrote that: glass window panes became common in the 17th century) (Phew!).

In fact, according to one source (OK, it’s me), that snoring was the original cause of the whole Montague/Capulet fracas.  The families used to be great friends, spending Sunday afternoons together.  One Sunday when Capulet was in the middle of a long, boring story (don’t judge; you’ve told them yourself, we all have), Montague fell asleep.  Capulet could never be brought to believe that the warm weather and heavy Sunday dinner were to blame, or that the ensuing noise was quite natural.  He always held to it that Montague was only pretending to sleep and made all that racket just to poke fun at Capulet.  Nothing could convince him otherwise, because all the Montagues were afraid to fall asleep in front of him after that.  Just imagine all the years of hostility that could have been avoided with a simple sleepover.

Romeo, naturally, inherited the tendency.  It is a pretty safe bet that Romeo and Juliet did not waste any time sleeping during the one night they had together.  This is unfortunate, as things turned out, because if Juliet had gotten a load of that honk, she may have been more amenable to taking Paris as a substitute.  I understand his family was rather gentle in their nighttime sounds, although Juliet would naturally have had no chance of finding that out beforehand.  I know, some of you are going, “Bu-bu-bu–” in your anxiety to get out a defense of True Love, and you know, they were married.  Yes, well, let’s leave the philosophical discussion for another day (perhaps Lame Post Friday, my traditional space for half-baked philosophy, and don’t try to tell me yours is fully cooked, I won’t believe you).

Incidentally, you may remember that Romeo’s mother died offstage before the end of the play.  Some have hypothesized that since theatrical companies at that time had only three boys who could play female roles, you could only have three women onstage at a time.  Well, that could be, but the fact of the matter is, she died from lack of sleep.  Being a Montague only by marriage, she just couldn’t handle the buzz saw.

 

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It’s All About Me, and The Tempest

 

In lieu of my usual Friday Lame Post, I thought I would continue my theme of All Tempest All The Time and plug tomorrow’s show at the Utica Zoo.  They have a nice little amphitheater.  Last year we performed Much Ado About Nothing there.  That had the charm of rhyme:  Much Ado at the Zoo.  Well, we can’t have everything.

We rehearsed at the zoo on Wednesday.  Did you know they block off the Parkway on Wednesday nights for the Utica Roadrunners?  Kim and I had to take a little walk to get to the zoo.  Oh well, I needed the exercise.  Alas, I did not bring my Tablet so have no pictures of rehearsal.  I just don’t imagine I will be able to get any of the performance either, because, you know, I’ll be acting.

The show at the Utica Zoo begins at 2  p.m. and is free with admission to the zoo. Cue jokes about animals in cages and on stages (I won’t make any of those jokes myself, because it still is Lame Post Friday, you know).

I’ll close with a couple of pictures from our dress rehearsal at Caroga Lake, where we performed Aug. 5.  Naturally I chose pictures that included me, because, as you know, it’s all about me.

That’s me with my arms upraised, you know, acting.

 

I chose this one, because I thought it would be nice to include one with swords out. I’m hoping for some actual sword fights in next summer’s Shakespeare play.

For more information about LiFT Theatre Company, you can visit their Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Post Performance Post

Wouldn’t it be cool if our set  looked like this?

Last Saturday, I meant to act and type (as opposed to drinking and typing), but that did not work out (don’t judge me).  This Saturday, I just got back home from, you guessed it, acting, and here I sit typing (and drinking as well, once again, don’t judge). Therefore I continue my theme of All Tempest All The Time with a few words and pictures.

We had our first of two performances at Sterzinar Park, Canal Place, Little Falls.  We were part of the Little Falls Canal Days Celebration.  Chicks Along the Canal were in the park with all kinds of vendors, craftspeople and artists.  I did not get a chance to walk around the booths, but it seemed there was a lot of good stuff.  Surprisingly, the weather cooperated.  There was a little rain before we started.  Then it seemed there might be a downpour during the last scene.  The wind blew some set pieces around.  However, we dealt with all problems and got through the whole play.

I think the audience was very pleased.  At least, they kept clapping through the entire curtain call, which I think goes on for kind of a long time (then again, once I’ve said all my lines I confess I’m a little anxious to get on to wine time).  Alas that I have no picture of today’s performance.  However, a trip to LiFT Theatre Company’s Facebook page showed me several good ones from last Saturday’s performance in Caroga Lake (full disclosure:  this might be from our dress rehearsal the night before that performance, but I think it will work just as well).

I’m the one in the orange tights.

Naturally I had to include a picture with me in it.  This is what I refer to as my big scene, because I have a few sizable speeches (not as long as some actors have, but they gave me a little trouble learning).  It is also the scene where I get made fun of, but you’ll have that when you play a garrulous old man.

I’m wondering if the teeth glow in the dark.

This is a shot taken when we were still searching for costumes.  I get to wear one of these masks in one scene.  I must confess I’m not too nuts about it, because it squishes my nose down and it is difficult to see through the eye-holes, even when I wear contact lenses.  Still, it is fun to be a wolf.

We have another performance at Sterzinar Park tomorrow at 3 p.m. Then we are at the Utica Zoo next Saturday and at the Herkimer Elks Lodge Sept. 1.  For more information, visit the LiFT Facebook page.

 

 

The Tempest Revealed

Cast photo taken after our dress rehearsal on Caroga Lake

You see, I was thinking that not everybody is like me.  I like to go see a play or movie tabula rasa, as it were, a blank slate (I learned that phrase in high school).  That is, not really knowing anything about it.  Sometimes that renders my decision of whether to watch something or not difficult, but that’s my problem.  It occurred to me that especially with something like Shakespeare, some people might prefer a little hint as to what is going on.  Since I enjoy so much writing about my old movies, I decided to attempt something of that nature for the latest play I am in.

Spoiler Alert!  I am going to recount the entire plot of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, as far as I know it.

Full disclosure:  I’ve only read the play all the way through once, and I don’t pay a great deal of attention to the scenes I’m not in.  In my defense, during rehearsals I am usually rehearsing my scenes with other cast members or studying my lines.  But I think I can give you the gist of things.  If you are still confused, go read the script yourself.  It is readily available in your local library or even online.

The Tempest opens on the deck of a ship which has run into the titular storm.  We have a great thunder sound maker as well as a bass drum, and we all do the Star Trek thing of swaying back and forth to indicate the rocking of the ship.  A couple of sailors run around trying to bail out the water.  It might have been nice to have stage hands sloshing real water onto the stage by the bucketful, or that may have been a little too much realism.  Squirt guns and water balloons were suggested but rejected, which I suppose is just as well, especially since our costumes are not of fast-drying material.

The ship is carrying the king and some nobles, and it is about to sink.  I’m sure the audience will gather that much through our costumes and movements, which is another good thing, because we have a hard time making ourselves heard over the sound effects.  I hope we solve that problem, though, because some of us have some pretty good lines insulting the Boatswain.

Scene two takes place on an island (not alas, the Island of Dr. Moreau) (see previous blog post).  We meet Prospera, the rightful Duchess of Milan, and her daughter Miranda. We learn that years ago, when Miranda was a tot, Prospera’s evil sister Antonia (alas, not an evil twin.  I do love an evil twin, don’t you?) stole the Dukedom and set Prospera and Miranda adrift in a skiff or some such.  Luckily for them, Prospera’s friend Gonzalo (that’s me, by the way) made sure they had supplies, as well as Prospera’s books.  These books have allowed Prospera to perfect her magic powers.  In fact, it was Prospera’s magic that caused the tempest, and Miranda should not worry about anybody being drowned.

Later on in the scene, Miranda takes a nap and we meet Ariel, a magic sprite or something that Prospera rescued and now owns (slavery was a thing in those days, remember). Ariel is promised her freedom, when Prospera is good and ready to give it to her. After Miranda wakes up, we meet Caliban, a son of a witch (really), who is another slave to Prospera.  He’s pretty much a bad hat, repaying kindness with curses among other things.  He thinks the island should be his, as it was his mother’s.  I guess she was quite the evil witch, and there is something in heredity.

Eventually Caliban leaves and Ariel returns with Ferdinand, the son of the King of Naples (who, incidentally, was last seen puking his guts out on the soon-to-sink ship).  Naturally, Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love.  Like I said, I have not paid too much attention to the scenes I’m not in, but it does not take a Shakespearean scholar to guess that was going to happen.

So that’s a long scene, but I finally get to come back on stage, wandering around the island with the King; Antonia, the wrongful Duchess of Milan; Sebastian, the king’s brother (at least, it might be his sister, because a girl plays the part, but I’m being an old man, so it could go either way); and Francisco, who incidentally is played by the same fellow who plays the Boatswain. I hope the audience does not get confused (although I sometimes do, but that’s all right, I’m an old man).  I spend much of this scene trying to cheer up the King, but he is inconsolable because he believes his son is drowned.  We also talk about his daughter Claribel (I always flash on Claribel the Cow when I hear or say the name), because we were returning from her wedding to the King of Tunis.  Antonia and Sebastian spend a lot of the scene making fun of me.

The King, Francisco and I fall asleep, lullabied by Ariel, who is invisible to us.  Antonia and Sebastian stay awake and take the opportunity to plot to murder the King, to take his throne, and me, probably just because I’m annoying.  Ariel returns in time to wake us and foil the plot.

The next scene concerns Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano.  The latter two are servants to the king, but Caliban takes them for gods and and immediately quits working for Prospera to become their slave.  Incidentally, Stephano knows where the wine landed, so they all get drunk, lucky bums.

Then it’s back to Prospera’s cell, where she is making Ferdinand work, much to Miranda’s dismay.  That’s a short scene, then it’s back to the drunken three.  Ariel shows up, invisible (yeah, that’s kind of an oxymoron) (I’m more of a regular moron myself), and makes trouble.  Caliban wants to get Stephano and Trinculo to murder Prospera, and then Stephano can be king of the island.

At last I get to come back on stage, with the other nobles, and we’re all bone tired.  First some weird islanders come on, dance around, and leave us food.  Before we get to eat it, a huge thunderclap renders Francisco and I frozen.  Ariel come in, as a terrifying harpy, and tells off the other three for supplanting Prospera as they did.  They are upset.

Back in Prospera’s cell, Prospera has taken Ferdinand into her good graces and gives him permission to marry Miranda, although she sternly warns him against fooling around before the wedding.  A few of us come out with Ariel and dance for the young lovers.  I get to be one of the dancers, wearing a mask.  After the dance I hurry off stage and switch that mask for a wolf’s mask.  When the others leave the stage, the other wolves and I set up a clothesline with rich garments on it.  Enter Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.  Caliban has brought them to murder Prospera, but they are distracted by the garments.  Once they have loaded them on Caliban for easy transport, we wolves chase them all offstage.

We’re in the homestretch now.  Prospera does a spell, and the nobles (that’s me, the King, Antonia, Sebastian and Francisco, in case you forgot) are led in by Ariel, under an enchantment.  At last the enchantment is lifted, and Prospera reveals herself.   Wow!  Are we ever surprised!  Of course they give her back her dukedom, no questions asked.  She forgives her rotten sister, largely because it’s the end of the play.  Eventually the King and his son are reunited, the Boatswain shows up to tell us the boat is just fine, and the drunkards Stephano and Trinculo return.

Then we all bow, hopefully to applause, and I get to take off my costume, which, although I think it looks good, is pretty damn warm for a summer play.

 

What’s Wrong with Monsters, Anyways?

He’s an ex-marine.

When in doubt, lead with the picture of the half-clothed muscular guy.  Oh dear, was that sexist and exploitative?  I was just trying to get your attention.  These are more pictures from LiFT Theatre Company’s preview performance of The Tempest last Thursday at Benton’s Landing in Little Falls (see yesterday’s post, if you haven’t already).  The chest-baring dude is our Caliban, a son of a witch (no, really, his mother was a witch; she’s not actually in the play, but they mention her) and kind of a monster (although the guys that call him “Monster” are drunk).

It’s too bad her face is in shadow; I’ll try to get better shot for a future post.

And here is our Ariel, a tricksy spirit who is servant to Prospera, the deposed Duchess of Milan.  I don’t have a great picture of Prospera, but here is a not too awful one of her and her daughter, Miranda.

Don’t worry; she’s nicer to Miranda in other scenes.

 

Antonia is in the foreground; Trinculo is on book.

Trinculo is one of the fellows who calls Caliban “Monster.”  Caliban is apparently not offended by this form of address.  Right now Trinculo is “on book.”  For the uninitiated, that means he is standing by in case an actor forgets a line.  The actor has only to yell, “Line!” and the prompter supplies it.  In the movies, I’ve seen prompters backstage during performances, loudly whispering forgotten lines to hapless actors on stage.  I personally have never been in a play where this was the case.  However, we presented the Preview Performance as a Work on Progress.  Hence, the prompter.

Astute readers may have noticed that I have referred to people by their character names only.  Well, you see, I did not want to take a chance on misspelling anybody’s name, and I do not have ready access to this information.  I know, real bloggers research this sort of thing in advance.  And here we come to the ugly truth about me.  I can’t worry about that now.  I have rehearsal in less than two hours and I haven’t even showered yet.    Additionally, today is Non-Sequitur Thursday.  I’ll just slap a catchy headline on and hope for the best.

Oh crap, now I have to think of a catchy headline.

 

A Few Pics from the Preview

You know, time does not fly JUST when you are having fun.  It flies other times, too.  Not usually at work, of course.  I’m not at work right now (I can’t get online at work, for one reason).  Time flies when you have a limited amount of it and a great number of things you were hoping to get done.  Well, I just won’t get everything done, that’s all.  And I will not make the blog post as long as I had hoped (some people may not find that to be a tragedy, I’m sure).

Today’s post was to have been a cross between Wordless Wednesday and Wuss-out Wednesday.  For one reason, I wanted to share the pictures I took at last week’s preview performance of The Tempest in Little Falls.  However, it seems I have quite a few shots, and my internet keeps going on (bad modem?  lousy router? operator error?).   My new plan (my plans are nothing if not flexible!) is to spread the pictures out over a few posts.  It! Could! Work!

“I don’t always wear pumpkin pants. But when I do, it is for Shakespeare.”

I led with one of my favorite shots.  This is Ferdinand, the son of Alonso, the king of Naples.  He really was posing like The Most Interesting Man in the World.  As a matter of fact, in the play, Miranda finds Ferdinand the most interesting man in the world.  Of course, she does not have much basis for comparison.

This was also described as a pirate outfit.

This is our director.  He also plays one of the sailors in the first scene of the play then goes on to lay Stefano, the king’s drunken butler.  One thing we do in community theatre is multi-task!

They may look nice, but they are up to no good!

These are Antonia and Sebestian.  Antonia has deposed her sister, Prospera, the rightful Duchess of Milan.   They spend a good amount of time in Act II making fun of my character, Gonzalo.

Looking regal and kingly.

And this is Alonso, the King of Naples.

You may have noticed that a number of the names begin with the same letter: Alonso and Antonia (Antonio in the original script).  Sebastian and Stefano.  There is also a Francisco, to get mixed up with Ferdinand.  I couldn’t believe Shakespeare could do such a thing!  When I start to name my characters, I write the alphabet at the top of the page and cross out letters as I use them, just to avoid such confusion.  The fellow who plays Alonso is also a writer. When I remarked about the alliterative names (the one time I do NOT like alliteration), he said, “Yeah, Shakespeare made a rookie mistake.”  I have to love someone who thus off-handedly accuses Shakespeare of a rookie mistake.  Rock on, Alonso!

Ooh, look everybody, I’m over 400 words!  I may have wussed out, but I am far from wordless (really, am I ever wordless?  Those who know me in person will tell you I am NOT).  I hope to see you all on Non-Sequitur Thursday.

 

Murder! Acting! and Cheese!

It’s been a while since I’ve made a hasty post before rushing off to a theatrical endeavor, has it not?  No matter if it has not, it is what I am doing now, I hope.  What a weekend I have ahead of me!  One show revived, another show started, and a wine and cheese fundraiser.  Take a deep breath, Cindy, and enjoy the ride!  (Yes, I talk to myself, is that a problem?)

First up is tonight’s revival of Rubbed Out at Ruby’s, the interactive murder mystery that was presented to great acclaim at The Overlook Mansion in Little Falls (all my murder mysteries are presented to great acclaim, or at least I say so).  We are putting it on again for a private party.  Woohoo, LiFT Theatre Company is in demand!

This was the original cast. We had to re-cast a couple of parts.

Tomorrow, I’ll be with LiFT Theatre Company once again, when we meet for the first read-through of The Tempest, our Shakespeare production for the summer.  I will be sure to make lots of posts about that as rehearsals start and keep my local readers updated on performances.  You’ll have lots of chances to catch this one!

Sunday, when I ought to be doing laundry and cleaning my house (oh yeah, and writing my novel), I will be heading to the Overlook Mansion for a fundraiser for the Little Falls Cheese Festival.

I’ve got my ticket!

I will be a mere attendee at this event, instead of a participant, as I will be for Rubbed Out at Ruby’s and The Tempest.  I expect it will make a lovely blog post.

I see I have come full circle on this post.  I started out with Rubbed Out at Ruby’s, which was presented at the Overlook Mansion by LiFT Theatre Company.  I continued with another activity with LiFT Theatre Company.  Now I return to the Overlook to eat cheese, drink wine and listen to the blues.  What could be better?  I shall close with a shot of the Overlook, which I believe I have used before.  Happy Friday, everybody!

It is such a beautiful place, I don’t mind showing it more than once.