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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.

 

To Blog or Not to Blog

Today’s mantra is, “Less stress.”  I have very little reason for stress.  OK, that’s a polite fiction I am telling myself.  The fact is, we all have reasons for stress, and stress is not always a bad thing.  However, since this is not Lame Post Friday, I will not philosophize (half-bakedly or otherwise) on stress.  Instead I will attempt a moderately amusing Non-Sequitur Thursday post.  I think I’ll use pictures.  I think Steven may have downloaded a couple of new ones…

I am NOT saying, “To be or not to be.”

This is LiFT rehearsing The Tempest at 120 London Bridge,  Caroga Lake, where we will perform on Saturday at 6 p.m.  It is a donation-based performance. I’m not sure what the suggested (or requested) donation is.  It is a lovely space to perform in.  Incidentally, I am the one in yellow tights, Acting (yes, it needs a capital A).  The photo was taken by Matt Powers, our director.

I missed him on TV!

Recently, Matt went on NewsTalk on WKTV to talk about LiFt and Shakespeare.  This is not what he will actually wear in The Tempest (he has two roles), but I think it was quite a theatrical choice for publicity purposes.

I’m not sure who took this photo; it was on LiFTs Facebook page.

To include three photos, as I like to do, here is one from early days of rehearsal, at Sterzinar Park, Canal Place, where next weekend’s performances take place.  I’m the one center stage, looking fairly ridiculous in the big old hat with a sweatshirt tied around my waist.  I tied on the sweatshirt not because I had tied one on (sorry; just had to make the play on words), but because I wanted something to put my sword through.  We had just started working on them.  I have a better looking sword holder now.

Performances of The Tempest in Little Falls  include Aug. 10, 6 p.m., Benton’s Landing; Aug. 12, 4 p.m., Sterzinar Park; and Aug. 13, 3 p.m., Sterzinar Park.  For more information, check out LiFT’s Facebook page.

 

No Laughing Matter! Or Is It?

OK, major panic attack just now.  I have about a half hour before my ride to rehearsal gets here.  That’s rehearsal for The Tempest with LiFT Theatre Company, in case you did not know or had forgotten.  I personally have forgotten most of my lines, the ones I reliably knew, at any rate.

So it’s Wuss-out Wednesday!  I actually started writing an awesome blog post while on breaks at work today.  Or perhaps I flatter myself.  You can judge for yourself, if I manage to finish it and post it in the next day or so.  Oh, I am so STRESSED!!!

And, as always, being a big baby about everything.  The fact of the matter is, I do not have to publish a blog post every day.  This is a purely self-imposed deadline and onus.  I know, some of you wish I would place a further onus on myself to write a GOOD blog post every day.  Well, ha ha on you, because this is as good as it gets!  Or is that no laughing matter?

This is the most incoherent post yet, I think.  But I have no time to fix it.  I need to get all my costume pieces together for rehearsal.  How complicatedly these Elizabethans dressed!  So many parts!  I will try to bring my Tablet to tomorrow’s rehearsal and take some pictures.  Today I fear I am too distracted by my own foolishness.  Some of you are thinking that tomorrow will be no different.  Indeed, I will probably be just as foolish.  But, as they say, I gotta be me.

I hope to see you all on Non-Sequitur Thursday.

 

A Metaphor on Mental Meanderings Monday

As regular readers know, I have been having trouble writing lately.  This morning before work, I opened my notebook (for those just tuning in, the spiral-bound paper kind) and penned the following:

Once again I draw a metaphor between writing and running.  One one reason, I have not been doing enough of either.  In many respects it is a sound comparison.  Both can be difficult.  Both are wonderful when going well, painful when not.  You have to get through the painful parts to get to the good parts.

The most important aspect of either is:  You have to do it. You can’t just sit and think about it, although some thought is necessary.  It does not count just to by the best running shoes, socks and bras, nor yet a fine new notebook and perfect pen.  You can’t just stretch, and you can’t just make notes and outlines (I personally have never successfully worked form nor even completed an outline, although I am a prodigious note-maker).

I don’t know how much further I can go with this, but at least it got my pen moving.

After writing that much, I turned back a few pages and wrote a few more notes on the murder mystery I am writing for a fundraiser for the Herkimer County Historical Society (preview of coming attractions).  I know I said you can’t just write notes, but notes are a very important part of murder mysteries.  They are not just notes I write from.  They are notes I give the actors to help them build their characters and aid them in the improvised sections of the performance.  Just to give you a little peek into how these murder mysteries are put together.

I guess I don’t know if my little comparison between running and writing has any value to any other writers nor yet holds any interest for any readers.  However, it worked pretty well as a pep talk for myself, and I’m going to call it good enough for a Monday Mental Meanderings.  This blog is just about to go All Tempest All The Time, and right now, I have to get ready for rehearsal.  I hope to see you all on Tired Tuesday.

 

Not Enough Monsters on Slacker Saturday

All I want to do is sit on my couch, crochet, and watch a monster movie.  Taking a nap would be a nice Plan B, but it is a little late in the day for that.  I was going to make a Scattered Saturday post but feared it would be such a lame one that I decided to go with Slacker Saturday instead.  I think I’ll share a couple of pictures, though, to liven things up.

As I mentioned, I had rehearsal for The Tempest in Little Falls..  It was not an official rehearsal but the meeting of a few characters to go over lines for one of our scenes.  I shall now share with you a picture I took of last Thursday’s Preview Performance, which, alas, includes none of the people who weer at today’s meeting.

Prospera and Ariel, discussing Ariel’s employment situation.

As you can see, we had a nice sized audience.  Enough to fill the chairs, with a some people standing behind, although that may only have been so they could make a fast getaway.  After all,  a few of them had dogs.

This was a good angle for me to watch the scene from.

This one is a little blurry, but you can see the audience a little better.  I think they enjoyed it.

Also not as clear as I would have liked, but showing two more characters.

You can see Ariel and Ferdinand in this one.  They are the love interest, although that is really just a subplot.  Still, they make a cute little couple.

I see none of the pictures feature the “monster,” Caliban, so I can’t connect up with my first line about watching a monster movie.  Oh well, what do you want from me on Slacker Saturday? In my defense, our rehearsal was from two to almost four in the blazing sunshine.  You know how that fries my brain (and if you don’t know, I’m telling you now: it fries my brain).  On to the monster movie, which may feature in tomorrow’s Wrist to Forehead Sunday post.

 

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.

 

Not Really a Monstrous Monday

When in doubt, include a picture of a monster.

I added that picture after I wrote the following two paragraphs.  I kind of ran dry after mentioning the cooler temperatures and zipped over to Facebook seeking inspiration.

I’m afraid this is a Monday Mental Meanderings post, and not very mental at that.  What can I say, it is Monday and I’m tired.  I know, other people are tired.  I’m sure there are people who are more tired than I am; there are certainly people who work harder than I do, that have more on their plate I have, oh yeah, and are thinner, smarter, better writers… where was I going with this?

It has not been a heinous day.  For one reason, the temperatures cooled off.  I love cooler temperatures.

I have rehearsal in less than an hour.  I did study my lines for a while on break at work today.  I feel moderately ready, although there are a few speeches I am still shaky on.  I will have time to look over them again before we do that scene, I hope.

I also wrote while on break.  I started a post on an old monster movie I watched on Sunday.  I do not think it is a cheesy movie, although the science in which the mad scientist indulges is definitely spurious, a staple of many cheesy movies.  I was writing the post in my head as I worked (my job doesn’t take a lot of brain power, luckily) then tried to put the words on paper once break started.  Of course some of the words were different.  You’ll have that.  Then as I wrote them, I thought of other ways to write what I wanted to say.  I’ll work on it some more.  It is fun to write.  I’m glad I started doing it again, however ineffectually.

Now I must brush my teeth and get ready for rehearsal. It will be fun.  There are very nice people in the cast.  Ooh, I still have to write about last Thursday’s preview performance and share some of the pictures I took.  A preview of coming attractions.  Happy Monday, everyone, even you, Frankenstein’s Monster.

 

Pre-Party Post

Regular readers know I adore alliteration.  I seem to be having a minor run of “P” these days.  Make what adolescent jokes you wish.  I have a mere 11 minutes to complete this post before my handsome husband Steven is due home (just throwing in a gratuitous compliment to the man there).  He will quickly change his clothes and we will arrive, as he puts it, “fashionably late”  to our friends’ anniversary party.  Being so happily married ourselves, we are delighted to celebrate with other contented couples (see, there I go again with the alliteration).

Today’s would be a Slacker Saturday post at best in any case.  Never mind why; nobody wants to hear me go on about my various ills.  I encourage myself to stop being such a big fat baby, but old habits die hard (as the nuns found out when they tried to change the color of their apparel) (I’ve been spending a lot of time on a pun page on Facebook).

I did not run this morning.  I managed to write a few post cards, although I might make out a couple more tomorrow.  I even wrote an almost letter.  At least, it was a note card in an envelope, so more space to fill.  I was sending a card with the Ilion Little Theatre schedule to a couple of club members emeritus (at least, that is how I think of them), and that was the best envelope to fit it.

There was enough time to run two errands before my rehearsal for The Tempest at eleven, but the window of my vehicle decided to get stuck halfway down (or halfway up for you optimists).  Yikes!  I drove to the dealership, where the guy who sold it to us got the window up and started to make me an appointment to get it really fixed.  Alas, I did not remember Steven’s work schedule next week (we must do these things on his day off), so I had to drive home and call the guy back.

Still, I made it to rehearsal even a little early.  I treated myself to a giant chocolate chip cookie from Ole Sal’s Creamery at Canal Place, Little Falls (just to throw in a plug for a local business).  After rehearsal I managed to finish one errand and bagged the other one.

Never mind what I did with the rest of the afternoon; remember my dictum of being less of a big fat baby.  I see it is 5:30.  Steven will be hope any minute!  I must find the fancy purse I wanted to carry to tonight’s soiree.  Happy Saturday, everyone!

P.S.  He got home while I was proofreading.

 

That Darn Doodah Parade!

I said “darn” because it is a family friendly event.

What a week I am having!  Rehearsals Monday and Wednesday, a preview performance Thursday, and the Ilion Doodah Parade on Friday!  And anybody who is saying huffily, “I see you had Tuesday off. I had something to do EVERY night this week, even Sunday!”  can just be quiet.  I bet there is somebody else who is even busier than you, only they are not writing a blog post about it.

Where was I?  Ah yes, stressing over the Ilion Doodah Parade tomorrow.  I am marching with other m embers of the Ilion Little Theatre Club (ILT).  Of course most of my summer is being taken up with LiFT Theatre Company of Little Falls, but I must make time for ILT once in a while.  For one reason, my good friend Kim is in charge of our participation in the parade.  I’m always ready to join Kim for a Mohawk Valley adventure!

My big problem is a familiar one for me.  What, oh WHAT shall I wear?  Last year I dressed as a pirate.  Some folks wore jeans and a t-shirt from a show.  Not all of our shows have t-shirts made, but, for example, the Herkimer County Historical Society gave the whole cast of Roxy t-shirts.  I, of course, was in Roxy (perhaps you read a few of my blog posts about it; that was in 2015).  Well, I’m sure wearing a theatre t-shirt is fine for some people, but I like to be a little more distinctive. OK, I just have to put n a show.  I thought you knew that about me.

So I could be a pirate again.  Or I could wear the outfit I’m working on for tonight’s preview performance.  A co-worker suggested I wear the outfit I wore for Rubbed Out at Ruby’s.  There are many possibilities.

Right now, however, I can’t think about it.  I have to get ready for my Preview Performance. I wonder if I will have time to write a blog post about it before the Doodah Parade tomorrow.

For more information about the Doodah Parade, you can visit the Ilion Days website at http://www.iliondoodah.com/