Monthly Archives: February 2009
Oh holy crap, it’s Tuesday and I don’t want to write this because I’m exhausted but I will. I love it but I hate to do it, y’know? You want art to just happen. You want to wake up and discover you’re the prizewinner without having even entered the contest. But it doesn’t work that way.
Instead: Coming back on the bus from San Francisco from a dentist appointment (I get my jollies at a dental school that charges half the price and does great work), I finally make a full worklist for The Tempest: every stage of every job I can predict at this early stage. It’s horrifying. Can’t be done. And I know that for every task I knock off the worklist in the next months, three more will be added.
But that’s normal. The list-making is a way of making it real. And saying this doesn’t start next week or this coming Friday: it starts now. Well actually, tomorrow.
What Did I Do This Week–
Sculpted and cast Trinculo and Stephano; they’re now in their papier mache shells. And finished a tentative working script, incorporating some minor cuts and a lot of the Folio punctuation, which makes no sense to our schooled minds but has its own logic. And the final showings of Rash Acts up in Arcata, four hours north of here, with large, enthusiastic audiences, and then off-loading the van and wondering where we’re going to store all this stuff. And having a few sudden illuminations about Tempest upon waking at 7 a.m., which seems to be the only time I really tune in to my brain. And having some good conversations.
This past week was also callbacks for casting The Tempest. Good possibilities. Difficult to audition people when (a) the style is utterly foreign to 99% of the actors auditioning and (b) one needs to blot out all impressions of what they look like, since none of their faces will be seen.
Our style of puppetry requires a much broader and more crafted gestural vocabulary than is normal on stage or in fact in real life. Our culture reduces gesture to nearly zilch, and so a style that requires the gestural fullness of the most vociferous Italians or deaf ALS speakers seems, to most actors, just plain fake. And yet the language of hands is thrilling. So how do you audition this?
We started by working with actors three at a time for 45 minutes. Each had a Shakespearean monolog, and I asked them to take this premise: You’re an actor with a Shakespearean audition monolog; you’ve never been cast; you’ve gone insane and are incarcerated in an asylum, where you do nothing all day but wander around rehearsing your audition monolog; out of desperation, you’ve exaggerated it more and more, vocally and physically, with mad compulsion. So I allow them to wander about for 5 minutes doing this, and then call on each to play that monolog in the style they’ve evolved.
Some people got it, and what resulted was thrilling: why couldn’t theatre revert to this out-moded style of intensity and fullness of expression and extravagance? Why do we accept that only in Kabuki or neo-Grotowski or other exotic experiment? What exactly is wrong with chewing up the scenery and raising the roof — if it’s grounded in truth?
Then I asked them to pick up a puppet — we’d brought a bunch of our old ones — and gave them a five-minute Puppetry 101 intro and asked them to do their monologs again, this time with the puppet. And then to segue into a song, since Tempest has songs. “But it’s not you singing, it’s the puppet singing.” Interesting result. Some of the monologs retained that intensity from the previous round, but unanimously when the songs began, the quality of the puppetry jumped tenfold. Was it that the music induced a fluidity, or that singing was a license to play?
I dunno, but I learned a lot from these auditions about entryways into the craft of puppetry, and I’ll be designing the early rehearsals around those keys to embodiment. Challenge now is working out the casting: eighteen characters played by five actors, and what happens when the whole crew comes together at the end.
New Thought about Caliban–
Catching a breath (in fact while, pardon the image, sitting on the john) after the setup of Rash Acts in Arcata, Caliban came into my head.
How do these little text messages come? Often they come in little pop-up windows upon waking, or as I’m walking down the dirt road on my morning walk. But rarely in late afternoon when my mind is partly on some idiot task I’m doing and partly on my forthcoming 5-o’clock glass of wine.
But I’ve been struggling with the play’s ending. In Caliban, Shakespeare has created a secondary character who demands a developmental arc and a decisive finale. Malvolio’s humiliation ends with his melodramatic trumpet blast, “I’ll be reveng’d on you all!” Falstaff, spurned by Henry, has his pathetic (and deeply satisfying) moment of crushed bravado. Shylock, like Caliban, trickles off the stage, crawling home ill, and one can understand Laurence Olivier’s instinctive desire for a powerful conclusion to this character that led him to add an agonized off-stage cry from the gut the moment after his exit.
So what do we make of Caliban’s weak final speech, promising hereafter be a good boy, to seek for grace, and being sent off to do housework? Some productions let it go at that. Others have shown him remaining lone and forlorn on the island, or shipping out with Prospero as a cabin-boy, or left in the clutches of Ariel as a neocolonialst tyrant. There’s a deep-felt need on the part of directors to “complete” his journey. I have the same impulse, but none of those solutions appeal to me.
So I’m thinking this: Caliban ends when he ends. He has no forward story: he’s a character in a play, after all. After the play, he doesn’t exist. He’s a part of Prospero — “this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine” — and as Prospero fades from us, so does Caliban. So this is where the puppet medium becomes metaphoric. Prospero embraces the puppet Caliban — not Caliban, but his empty shell — and at that moment Prospero has made peace with his “inner Caliban” and that creature is no more. His last lines are simply Prospero animating Caliban to give an unimaginative exit speech, and then the puppet will go back into the storage bin.
Will that work? I have no idea. That’s what rehearsal is for, to sift the gold from the idiocy. It’s consistent with the interpretation of The Tempest as “Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage” or as a masque or dream, a quintessentially theatrical vision. While I don’t think that’s the particular thrust of this production, I have to acknowledge that, yes, it’s a puppet show; yes, it’s an artifice; yes, it’s a profound vision of transience, mortality, human existence as air.
Now into heavy sculpting mode. And Elizabeth’s new (used) audio sampler arrived this morning, a great addition to the instrumentation of the music score. She’s recovering from the flu, just returned from a samba lesson in preparation for a guest role back East in April & May, made me a great dinner, and starting to work on the taxes. No mercy.
Peace & joy–
Essential elements of Act Two, Scene One:
* To condense the long dialogue of the Neapolitan courtiers, I’ve excised Gonzalo’s utopian fantasy. But it’s important text, and it’ll be used in the audio score as elements of scene bridges. Two minor courtiers have been excised because of cast size.
* Central focus at the outset is on the King’s grief, but the scene is balanced among all four. Having seen the farcical conquistdores Stephano and Trinculo, we’re attuned to a sharper awareness of the stressful dynamics of the real court.
* We should be surprised by Gonzalo’s vigor and fast reflexes in his awaking. In this court, an old guy still has to handle a sword with the best of them. It’s a shock to the would-be assassins and short-circuits any attempt to continue the attack. Antonio and Sebastian are thrown into frantic improvisation; it’s humiliating to them.
* Irony of Sebastian, the weaker of the duo, being promoted by Antonio to a rank above Antonio: it’s clear that Antonio would dominate the relationship.
* The scene wants very spare movement; everything is in the characterizations. Permeating everything is the strangeness and terror of the island.
2:1 – PROSPERO’S MAGIC FOILS A COUP AGAINST HIS GREATEST ENEMY.
Sound bridge: voices calling for Ferdinand. Shadows of the searchers overlap, moving as the ships did at the beginning.
01-Lights, revealing Alonso DC, Antonio & Sebastian UL, Gonzalo UR. All startle, look around baffled. Alonso, with a cry of grief, goes to his knees. Gonzalo comes forward to him, on R.
>>>Gonzalo: Beseech you, Sir, be merry: you have cause,
>>>So have we all, of joy. Our stint of woe
>>>Is common: every day some Sailor’s wife,
>>>The Masters of some Merchant and the Merchant,
>>>Have just our Theme of grief; but for the miracle,
>>>I mean our preservation, few in millions
>>>Can speak like us: then wisely, good Sir, weigh
>>>Our sorrow with our comfort.
>>>Alonso: Prithee, peace.
>>>Antonio: He receives comfort like cold porridge.
>>>Sebastian: Look, he’s winding up the watch of his wit; by and by it will strike.
>>>When every grief is entertain’d that’s offer’d,
>>>Comes to the entertainer–
>>>Sebastian: A dollar.
>>>Gonzalo: Dolour comes to him, indeed: you have spoken truer than you purposed.
>>>Sebastian: You have taken it wiselier than I meant you should. >>>Gonzalo: Therefore, my Lord,–
>>>Alonso: I prithee, spare.
Gonzalo backs away UR. Rapid tempo, punctuated by Alonso’s sounds of grief.
>>>Gonzalo: Well, I have done: but yet–
>>>Sebastian: He will be talking.
>>>Gonzalo: Though this Island seem to be desert,
>>>Uninhabitable, and almost inaccessible,–
>>>Antonio: He could not miss it.
>>>Gonzalo: It must needs be of subtle, tender, and delicate temperance.
>>>Antonio: Temperance was a delicate wench.
>>>Gonzalo: The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.
>>>Sebastian: As ’twere perfumed by a Fen.
>>>Gonzalo: Here is everything advantageous to life.
>>>Antonio: True; save means to live.
>>>Gonzalo: But the rarity of it is,–which is indeed almost beyond credit,–
>>>Sebastian: As many rarities are.
>>>Gonzalo: That our Garments, being, as they were, drenched in the Sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness; being rather new-dyed than stain’d with salt water.
All look at their garments, startled: it’s true.
>>>Methinks our garments are now as fresh as when we put them on in Afric, at the marriage of the King’s fair daughter Claribel to the King of Tunis.
>>>Sebastian: ‘Twas a sweet marriage, and we prosper well in our return. >>>Gonzalo: Sir, we were talking that our garments seem now as fresh as when we were at Tunis. Is >>>not, sir, my doublet as fresh as the first day I wore it?
>>>Alonso: You cram these words into mine ears, against
>>>The stomach of my sense. Would I had never
>>>Married my daughter there! for, coming thence,
>>>My son is lost; and she so far from Italy remov’d,
>>>I ne’er again shall see her. O thou, mine heir
>>>Of Naples and of Milan! what strange fish
>>>Hath made his meal on thee?
>>>Gonzalo: He may live:
Gonzalo down again to Alonso.
>>>Alonso: No, no; he’s gone.
Sebastian down to L side of Alonso, who is still kneeling.
>>>Sebastian: Sir, you may thank yourself for this great loss,
>>>That would not bless our Europe with your daughter,
>>>But rather lose her to an African.
>>>Alonso: Prithee, peace.
>>>Sebastian: You were kneel’d to and importun’d otherwise
>>>By all of us; and the fair soul herself
>>>Weigh’d between loathness and obedience.
>>>We’ve lost your son, I fear, forever:
>>>The fault’s your own.
>>>Alonso: So is the dear’st o’the loss.
>>>Gonzalo: My lord Sebastian,
>>>The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness
>>>And time to speak it in; you rub the sore,
>>>When you should bring the plaster.
>>>Sebastian: Very well.
Sebastian back UL to Antonio.
>>>Antonio: And most Surgically.
>>>Gonzalo: It is foul weather in us all, good Sir,
>>>When you are cloudy.
>>>Sebastian: Foul weather?
>>>Antonio: Very foul.
>>>Gonzalo: And,– do you mark me, Sir?
>>>Alonso: Prithee no more: thou dost talk nothing to me.
02-Sudden movement: Alonso X L. Sebastian DL to him. Antonio counter URC. Gonzalo delay, then DR.
>>>Gonzalo: I do well believe your Highness; and did it to minister occasion to these Gentlemen, who >>>are of such sensible and nimble Lungs that they laugh at nothing.
>>>Antonio: ‘Twas you we laugh’d at.
>>>Gonzalo: You are Gentlemen of brave mettle.
>>>Antonio: Nay, good my Lord, be not angry.
03-Ariel pops up by Gonzalo, playing flute. Solemn music.
>>>Gonzalo: No, I warrant you; I will not adventure my discretion so weakly. Will you laugh me asleep, for I am very heavy?
>>>Antonio: Go sleep.
Ariel taps Gonzalo on head. He falls asleep, leaning. Ariel disappears.
>>>Alonso: What! all so soon asleep! I wish mine eyes
>>>Would, with themselves, shut up my thoughts: I find
>>>They are inclin’d to do so.
>>>Sebastian: Please you, sir,
>>>Do not omit the heavy offer of it:
>>>It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth
>>>It is a Comforter.
>>>Antonio: We two, my Lord,
>>>Will guard your person while you take your rest,
>>>And watch your safety.
>>>Alonso: Thank you. Wondrous heavy.
04-Ariel pops up, taps Alonso, who falls asleep. Ariel disappears. Sebastian up to Antonio, UC.
>>>Sebastian: What a strange drowsiness possesses them!
>>>Antonio: It is the quality o’ the climate.
Sebastian & Antonio look simultaneously at Gonzalo & Alonso, then back together.
>>>Doth it not then our eyelids sink? I find not
>>>Myself dispos’d to sleep.
>>>Antonio: Nor I: my spirits are nimble.
05-Both X DC.
>>>They dropp’d, as by a thunder-stroke. What might,
>>>Worthy Sebastian? O! what might?–No more:–
>>>And yet methinks I see it in thy face.
>>>My strong imagination sees a Crown
>>>Dropping upon thy head.
>>>Sebastian: What! art thou waking?
>>>Antonio: Do you not hear me speak?
>>>Sebastian: I do; and surely,
>>>It is a sleepy Language. What is it thou didst say?
Both look again, this time first to Gonzalo, then to Alonso.
>>>This is a strange repose, to be asleep
>>>With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,
>>>And yet so fast asleep.
>>>Antonio: Noble Sebastian,
>>>Thou let’st thy fortune sleep.
>>>Sebastian: Thou dost snore distinctly:
>>>There’s meaning in thy snores.
>>>Antonio: I am more serious than my custom: you
>>>Must be so too, if heed me; which to do
>>>Trebles thee o’er.
>>>Sebastian: Well; I am standing water.
>>>Antonio: I’ll teach you how to flow.
>>>Sebastian: Prithee, say on:
>>>The setting of thine eye and cheek proclaim
>>>A matter from thee, and a birth indeed.
>>>Antonio: Thus, sir:
They shift positions, looking about, then together again.
>>>Although this Lord of weak remembrance, this
>>>Who shall be of as little memory
>>>When he is earth’d, hath almost persuaded the King, his son’s alive,
>>>’Tis as impossible that he’s undrown’d
>>>As he that sleeps here swims.
>>>Sebastian: I have no hope that he’s undrown’d.
>>>Antonio: O! out of that “no hope”
>>>What great hope have you! Will you grant with me
>>>That Ferdinand is drown’d?
>>>Sebastian: He’s gone.
>>>Antonio: Then tell me
>>>Who’s the next heir of Naples?
Both circle UC in a melodramatic sweep, then again together.
>>>Antonio: She that is Queen of Tunis; she that dwells
>>>Ten leagues beyond man’s life; she that from Naples
>>>Can have no note, unless the sun were post–
>>>The man i’ th’ moon’s too slow–till new-born chins
>>>Be rough and Razorable.
>>>Sebastian: ‘Tis true my brother’s daughter’s Queen of Tunis;
>>>So is she heir of Naples; ‘twixt which Regions
>>>There is some space.
Heads together, close.
>>>Antonio: A space whose every cubit
>>>Seems to cry out, ‘How shall that Claribel
>>>Measure us back to Naples?–Keep in Tunis,
>>>And let Sebastian wake!’–Say this were death
>>>That now hath seiz’d them; why, they were no worse
>>>Than now they are. There be that can rule Naples
>>>As well as he that sleeps; Lords that can prate
>>>As amply and unnecessarily
>>>As this Gonzalo. O, that you bore
>>>The mind that I do! what a sleep were this
>>>For your advancement! Do you understand me?
Outside mutual circle, further US, then close.
>>>Sebastian: I remember
>>>You did supplant your brother Prospero.
>>>And look how well my garments sit upon me;
>>>Sebastian: But, for your conscience–
>>>Antonio: Ay, sir; where lies that? if ’twere a blister,
>>>’Twould put me to my slipper; but I feel not
>>>This Deity in my bosom: twenty consciences,
>>>That stand ‘twixt me and Milan, candied be they,
>>>And melt ere they molest! Here lies your Brother,
Both X DC forward.
>>>No better than the earth he lies upon,
>>>If he were that which now he’s like — that’s dead;–
>>>Whom I, with this obedient steel,–three inches of it,–
>>>Can lay to bed for ever; whiles you might put
>>>This ancient morsel, this Sir Prudence, who
>>>Should not upbraid our course. Draw thy sword, one stroke
>>>Shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest,
>>>And I the King shall love thee.
06-They take hands. Antonio kisses Sebastian’s hand, then Sebastian kisses Antonio’s. Antonio holds on till “draw together.”
>>>Sebastian: Thy case, dear Friend,
>>>Shall be my precedent: as thou got’st Milan,
>>>I’ll come by Naples. Draw thy sword.
>>>Antonio: Draw together;
>>>And when I rear my hand, do you the like,
>>>To fall it on Gonzalo.
Both draw, move to stab, then Sebastian immediately recoil, both circle and cross to come together UC.
>>>Sebastian: O! but one word.
They converse apart. Music. Ariel pop up DC.
>>>Ariel: My Master through his Art foresees the danger
>>>That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth–
>>>For else his project dies–to keep thee living.
07-Sings in Gonzalo’s ear.
>>>While you here do snoring lie,
>>>His time doth take.
>>>If of Life you keep a care,
>>>Shake off slumber, and beware:
>>>Antonio: Then let us both be sudden.
08-Antonio & Sebastian move to stab L & R. Gonzalo up, sword drawn, Alonso a moment after. Antonio & Sebastian recoil, collide. Spin, collide again.
>>>Gonzalo: Good Angels preserve the King!
>>>Why, how now! ho, awake! Why are you drawn?
>>>Wherefore this ghastly looking?
>>>Alonso: What’s the matter?
09-Sebastian narrates with broad gestures, Antonio echoing with gestures.
>>>Sebastian: Whiles we stood here securing your repose,
>>>Even now, we heard a hollow burst of bellowing–
>>>Antonio: Like Bulls–
>>>Sebastian: Or rather Lions; did’t not wake you?
>>>It struck mine ear most terribly.
>>>Alonso: I heard nothing.
>>>Antonio: O! ’twas a din to fright a Monster’s ear,
>>>To make an earthquake: sure it was the roar
>>>Of a whole herd of Lions.
>>>Alonso: Heard you this, Gonzalo?
>>>Gonzalo: Upon mine honour, Sir, I heard a humming,
>>>Which did awake me. There was a noise, verily. ‘Tis best we stand upon our guard.
Alonso draws his sword. A moment when all four armed men look at each other.
>>>Alonso: Lead off this ground, and let’s make further search
>>>For my poor son.
>>>Gonzalo: Heavens keep him from these Beasts!
>>>For he is, sure, i’ the island.
>>>Alonso: Lead away.
10- Sebastian & Antonio off DL. Then Gonzalo. Ariel up directly behind Alonso, holding him suspended.
>>>Ariel: Prospero my Lord shall know what I have done:
>>>So, King, go safely on to seek thy Son.
Releases Alonso, disappears. Alonso is disoriented a moment, looks about, then follows the others off L.
* * *
So this week we have call-backs and also finish our final week of Rash Acts with two performances at the Arcata Playhouse, a five-hour drive north. Then our structural frame will get set back up in our studio and we’ll start creating elements of the set, going back and forth between the set model, now in process, and the real thing.
Just finished the local run of Rash Acts, getting ready to take it to Arcata in two weeks. Cleaning up studio and shop to prepare for the next onslaught. Starting to sculpt Tempest puppets, beginning modestly with the Boatswain. And thinking about what our experience with Rash Acts has contributed to the evolution of the new project. A few miscellaneous thoughts:
* Rash Acts brought me my first-ever experience using hand puppets, and I truly love the cranky little things. Their limited expression is their strength, a broad simplicity of emotion. Relevance to The Tempest? No, none at all.
* Discovered that my novel technical plan of adapting our head-on-rod style to be a hand-in-head sadly will not work. Operating the Red Queen (a variant of this style), I suddenly discovered that the reason I was holding her head at a sharp angle was because, egad, the human wrist won’t bend in the direction I was trying to bend her. You can hold the puppet over your head or at your side and be quite expressive, but you can’t hold it directly in front of you and still have flexibility in its wrist/neck. Can’t be done. So it’s back to refining the engineering of our rods and neck/shoulder structures: some of the Rash Acts puppets were very flexible, others needed radical chiropractic. More experiment required.
* The audience loves cheap theatrics, and this need is not to be disparaged. Biggest laugh in the show: Big Mama, the volcano, erupts, and the peasant farmers cry, “Get the kids!” Suddenly, ten little finger puppets in sombreros and bandanas pop up, and the audience goes nuts. The simplest, most obvious joke in the whole 90 minutes of the show, and the sweetest. We need those moments.
* How do I talk with the audience after the show? We bring out the puppets for them to see, and the questions are always, “What are they made of?” “How long does it take to make one?” “How do you make the eyes?” I answer as best I can, but I wonder if I should be deflecting that and trying to talk with them about the content of the work. Those questions are ok, but is that what they’re really asking?
* Hereafter, we must do what we’re doing with Tempest: produce in collaboration. Rash Acts has made clear to us that our life of independent producing is finished; on our own, we can’t get an audience larger than 20 to 30. Five months of my life to create a piece that’s seen by fewer than 200 people? But how do we foster these relationships? Thirty-eight years of doing it doesn’t mean shit, at least here on the West Coast. It’s bitter. And at the same time, it adds a greater pressure on Tempest: we must use it to help bring the next project into being, because otherwise it’s going to be the very sad swan-song of our artistic vision. Prospero drowns his book and goes back to be Duke of Milan, but I doubt he’s any the happier for it.
* Our main style of puppetry, with the live hand as the puppet’s hand, is extremely flexible and responsive to the actor’s impulse. But it’s seductive: the live hand tends to become too busy and the head static, whereas they must work in tandem, must create the illusion that there’s a real spine joining them. We’ve mostly gotten past the grotesquerie of an extravagant hand gesticulating in front of a stone-dead head, but still a long way to go.
* Our culture creates an extremely limited gestural vocabulary. Watch people talking. For most, gesture is almost non-existent, or confined to an occasional arrhythmic wave of the hand. Illustrative specificity, the sense of intimate connection with the “story” of the vocal message, is seen as something only flamboyant Italians do. Many stage actors, even with serious physical training, are even more restricted. But in this style of puppetry, the hands are the tongue, and choppy, generalized gesture is a serious speech impediment. For The Tempest we need to create an effective training regimen to overcome this cultural bias. The start, probably, is to begin without puppets, with a kind of neo-Delsartian technique to get full physical expression into the actors’ hands and bodies before transferring it into the puppet.
* Rhythm is fundamental. In Rash Acts we come and go with it. At times the dialogue has the intimate intercourse and forward thrust of a great jazz duo. But it’s too easy to fall into the line-by-line plodding of text-messaging. That’s not a “tempo” issue. It’s the degree to which one line is truly responsive to another, is part of an unbroken flow where even the pauses are part of that flow, is subject to change depending on the nuances of the line that’s immediately spurred it. When our comic sequences fall flat, it’s because the characters are doing “self-expression,” not really participating in a mutually-created absurdity. Shakespeare builds these linkages brilliantly, but performers can be remarkably oblivious to the tools he offers. Maybe the gateway is to begin, eyes closed, with nothing but the music of the words, divested of meaning. And maybe going from there to dialogue while in physical contact improvisation. We’ll see.
We’ve had a godsend during the course of Rash Acts in the form of Danny Brylow, a theatre/music major from Bennington College who’s interned with us for the past seven weeks and is now back to Vermont. He’s stage managed, papier-mached, postered, labeled & sorted bulk mail, catalogued six boxes of books for our regional puppetry guild, performed in our workshop, operated camcorder for rehearsals and performances, reviewed old videos from our archive to transfer to dvd, done set-ups and clean-ups ad infinitum. A true gift.
Next entry, Feb. 17.
Peace & joy–
Act One, Scene Two, D. Essential elements:
* Our premise is that Prospero has planned out this encounter meticulously, and it goes almost precisely as intended. His unexpected challenge is that he himself is extremely volatile: his pretended anger at Ferdinand and then at Miranda verge into the actual. He struggles between joy and rage.
* He is unprepared for Miranda’s challenging him. Though bending before her father’s rage, she’s discovering her own will.
* The intensity of their attraction to one another — more instant and direct than Romeo & Juliet — must be deep and true, not just a theatrical convention: strong enough to shake them to their roots and also to unsettle Prospero.
* Ariel appears, as Prospero directed, as a sea nymph. Ferdinand doesn’t see him, but this guise represents the ‘seductiveness” of the music upon him.
1:2D – PROSPERO’S SUCCESS IN SPARKING EXPLOSIVE CHEMISTRY BETWEEN FERDINAND AND MIRANDA CHALLENGES HIS SELF-CONTROL.
01-Far Left, Prospero covers Miranda’s eyes and she falls asleep. New music. Ferdinand appears entranced by the music, Center. Slow movement of water images.
02-Ariel appears behind him in the guise of sea nymph. As he sings, a second Ariel puppet periodically appears from behind, one or the other teasing Ferdinand, stroking him, playfully adding to his confusion.
>>>Ariel: Come unto these yellow sands,
>>>And then take hands:
>>>Curtsied when you have, and kiss’d,
>>>The wild waves whist,
>>>Foot it featly here and there;
>>>And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
>>>Bow wow, bow wow
>>>The watch-dogs bark:
>>>Bow wow, bow wow
>>>Hark, hark! I hear
>>>The strain of strutting Chanticleer
Voices echo. Ferdinand is spinning dizzily, loses balance, falls from exhaustion. The cock crow revives him. Slowly recovering:
>>>Ferdinand: Where should this Music be? i’ th’ air, or th’ earth?
>>>It sounds no more; and sure, it waits upon
>>>Some God o’ th’ island. Sitting on a bank,
>>>Weeping again the King my Father’s wrack,
>>>This Music crept by me upon the waters,
>>>Allaying both their fury and my passion
>>>With its sweet air: but ’tis gone.
>>>No, it begins again.
03-Ariel rises slowly, very close behind Ferdinand, both rocking slowly.
>>>Ariel: Full fathom five thy Father lies;
>>>Of his bones are Coral made:
>>>Those are pearls that were his eyes:
>>>Nothing of him that doth fade,
>>>But doth suffer a Sea-change
>>>Into something rich and strange.
>>>Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
>>>Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.
Ferdinand weeping. Music slowly disappears, then distant sounds. He looks about in fear and wonder.
>>>Ferdinand: This is no mortal business, nor no sound
>>>That the earth owns: I hear it now above me.
04-He begins turning, as if caught in a pattern. Multiple images of him appear behind. Prospero passes his hand over Miranda’s face. She wakes and sees Ferdinand.
>>>Prospero: The fringed Curtains of thine eye advance,
>>>And say what thou seest yond.
>>>Miranda: What is’t? a Spirit?
>>>Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
>>>It carries a brave form. But ’tis a spirit.
>>>Prospero: No, wench; it eats and sleeps, and hath such senses
>>>As we have, such; this Gallant which thou see’st,
>>>Was in the wrack; he hath lost his fellows
>>>And strays about to find ’em.
>>>Miranda: I might call him
>>>A thing divine; for nothing natural
>>>I ever saw so Noble.
>>>Prospero: It goes on, I see,
>>>As my soul prompts it.
Ferdinand moves about in C, trying to sense direction, from one still tableau to another. Miranda moves toward Ferdinand, into the central area. Prospero remains far R. Ariel appears high above L
>>>Sprite, fine sprite! I’ll free thee
>>>Within two days for this.
A sound of delight. Ariel disappears.
05-Ferdinand sees Miranda, and suddenly both are whirled by their Spirit puppeteers into Center. Prospero raises wand, but concentrated within himself, never looking at them. Sudden freezes alternate with radical reactions: comic extravagance of an electric current of attraction, but absolutely real. At third freeze, they stand at a distance. He addresses her as if she’s unlikely to understand English.
>>>Ferdinand: Most sure, the Goddess
>>>On whom these airs attend! Vouchsafe, my prayer
>>>May know if you reside upon this island;
>>>And that you will some good instruction give
>>>How I may bear me here: my prime request is,–
>>>O you wonder!– if you be maid or no?
She breaks eye contact. Turns front.
>>>Miranda: No wonder, sir;
>>>But certainly a maid.
Ferdinand turns front.
>>>Ferdinand: My language! heavens!–
>>>I am the best of them that speak this speech,
>>>Were I but where ’tis spoken.
06-Prospero forcefully into central area. Miranda and Ferdinand still dumbstruck, faced forward. Ferdinand sees Prospero for a moment — Prospero’s focus downward, as if an old, weak man — then turns forward again in formally self-effacing greeting.
>>>Prospero: How! the best?
>>>What wert thou, if the King of Naples heard thee?
>>>Ferdinand: A solitary thing that wonders
>>>To hear thee speak of Naples. Myself am Naples,
>>>Who with mine eyes,–ne’er since at ebb,–beheld
>>>The King, my Father wrack’d.
>>>Miranda: Alack, for mercy!
Turns to him.
>>>Ferdinand: Yes, faith, his lords, and the Duke of Milan.
>>>Prospero: The Duke of Milan could refute thee now,
>>>If now ’twere fit to do’t. At the first sight
>>>They have changed eyes: Delicate Ariel,
>>>I’ll set thee free for this!– A word, good Sir;
>>>I fear you have done yourself some wrong: a word.
07-Ferdinand impulsively moves Right toward Miranda; Prospero moves around him, restrains him from left. Ferdinand remains focused on Miranda.
>>>Miranda: Why speaks my father so ungently? This
>>>Is the third man that e’er I saw; the first
>>>That e’er I sigh’d for: pity move my father
>>>To be inclin’d my way!
>>>Ferdinand: O! if a Virgin,
>>>And your affection not gone forth, I’ll make you
>>>The Queen of Naples.
08-Miranda with a strong impulse toward him. Prospero intervenes between them. Series of tableaux, as if sudden still frames — tense emotion expressed in the sharpness of movements between images.
>>>Prospero: Soft, sir: one word more–
>>>They are both in either’s powers: but this swift business
>>>I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
>>>Make the prize light.– One word more: I charge thee
>>>That thou attend me.
Prospero forces Miranda to Right, Ferdinand falls back to Left. They are in confrontation.
>>> Thou dost here usurp
>>>The name thou ownst not; and hast put thyself
>>>Upon this island as a spy, to win it
>>>From me, the Lord of it.
>>>Ferdinand: No, as I am a man.
>>>Miranda: There’s nothing ill can dwell in such a Temple:
>>>Prospero: Follow me. Speak not for him; he’s a traitor. Come;
>>>I’ll manacle thy neck and feet together:
>>>Sea-water shalt thou drink; thy food shall be
>>>The fresh-brook mussels, wither’d roots and husks
>>>Wherein the Acorn cradled. Follow.
>>>I will resist such entertainment till
>>>Mine enemy has more power.
09-He draws his sword. Prospero gestures. Two Spirits rise from behind him. Prospero covers Miranda’s eyes.
10-Ferdinand struggles, but they bring the sword blade to his throat.
>>>Miranda: O dear father!
>>>Make not too rash a trial of him.
11-Miranda struggles to be free of Prospero, as the Spirits wrench Ferdinand into new postures. Prospero into true fury:
>>>Prospero: What! I say,
>>>My foot my Tutor?–Put thy sword up, Traitor;
>>>For I can here disarm thee with this stick
>>>And make thy weapon drop.
>>>Miranda: Beseech you, father!
>>>Prospero: Hence: hang not on my garments.
>>>Miranda: Sir, have pity!
>>>Prospero: Silence: one word more
>>>Shall make me chide thee, if not hate thee. What!
>>>An advocate for an Impostor? Hush!
>>>Thou think’st there is no more such shapes as he,
>>>Having seen but him and Caliban: Foolish wench!
>>>To the most of men this is a Caliban
>>>And they to him are Angels.
12-Miranda overcome, kneels, faced away from Prospero.
>>>Miranda: My affections
>>>Are then most humble; I have no ambition
>>>To see a goodlier man.
All freeze in tortured tableau.
13-Music. Ferdinand animates, speaks, as if in dream, to the Spirits who are restraining him.
>>>Ferdinand: My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up.
>>>My Father’s loss, the weakness which I feel,
>>>The wrack of all my friends, or this man’s threats,
>>>To whom I am subdued, are but light to me,
>>>Might I but through my prison once a day
>>>Behold this Maid: all corners else o’ th’ Earth
>>>Let liberty make use of; space enough
>>>Have I in such a prison.
He kneels. Spirits disappear behind him.
14A-Prospero moves UC from Miranda. Ariel appears above.
>>>Prospero: It works.– Come on.–
>>>Thou hast done well, fine Ariel!– Follow me.–
>>>[To Ariel.] Hark what thou else shalt do me.
14B-He gestures toward Ferdinand, who moves slowly off Up Right, bowed low as if in fetters. Miranda speaks to Ferdinand from a distance as he departs, fully within Prospero’s hearing.
>>>Miranda: Be of comfort;
>>>My father’s of a better nature, sir,
>>>Than he appears by speech.
14C-Prospero, as he follows Ferdinand off slowly, calls up to Ariel, sotto voce:
>>>Prospero: Thou shalt be as free
>>>As mountain winds; but then exactly do
>>>All points of my command.
>>>Ariel: To the syllable.
>>>Prospero: Come, follow.– Speak not for him.
Ferdinand and Prospero off. Miranda turns front, struck with the newness, joy and pain of it all. To black.
Most of our focus this week has been on Rash Acts, finishing the second week of the run. Strong response from small houses, though slowly building. Cleaned the studio and started to put order into the shop, in preparation for starting the build on Tempest. Beginning to really love the hand puppets in Rash Acts — first time ever using this type — and kinda sad that hand puppets won’t fit in Tempest.
And editing a video trailer for Rash Acts, a good way to get back into the swing of mastering Final Cut Express. Next up will be editing of a dvd of the whole show, and then starting to design the video projections for the magical isle.
Next blog entry Feb. 9.