Monthly Archives: May 2009
Much of the week taken up by reconnecting with Elizabeth after her seven-week East Coast gig, our daughter Jo visiting from Italy, and my own misery in the clutches of a cold. Still, slow movement forward.
Finished painting and gluing in the eyes of all characters except the five Ariels (which require more conception of the faces themselves) and most of the faces prepared for painting. It’s always fascinated me how radically the eyes affect the nature of the face.
For the Neapolitans (Alonso, his brother Sebastian, his son Ferdinand), they’re all brown-eyed. But Alonso I’ve tried to give a more distant (or inward) focus that suggests grief; Sebastian’s pupils are low, adding a bit to the sleaziness of the face; Ferdinand’s are large-irised and very centered, like Miranda’s, full of wonder. Gonzalo is a bit out of the loop: small, dark-blue eyes, grieving.
The Milanese (Prospero, Miranda and his brother Antonio) are green-eyed; Prospero with a very direct gaze, pupils set high in the eye, emphasizing an angry brow; Miranda, like Ferdinand, big-eyed and direct; Antonio with small irises and slightly out of focus—you can never quite tell where he’s looking, what he’s intending.
The conspiratorial clownshow (Stephano, Trinculo, Caliban) are designed for maximum disunity. Stephano, the would-be king of the island and chronic drunk, has wide-open idiot eyes; the dwarfish court fool Trinculo has a focus somewhere between terror and despair; and Caliban—conceived as a realistically deformed man with a cleft lip and heavily-lidded wall-eye—changes radically as the head is turned. A weird choice: he has blue eyes. His mother was Algerian; was his dad an English seaman? I guess I want to emphasize a kind of soft, baby-face quality in him, utterly at odds with the vehemence of his rage.
For the Ship Master and Boatswain, well, just a contrast. The Boatswain is battling fro his life; the Ship Master seems already resigned to disaster.
In a regular stage production, of course, you don’t have control of the actors’ eyes: they are what they are. But in puppetry, even though the audience is seeing it from a considerable distance, the effect of the eyes is remarkable. I believe that evolution has programmed us to have an extreme awareness of eye focus and mood: is that stranger across the river looking at me with ill intent? So the process of painting the flat backsides of these glass globs and finding just the right way of setting them into the head—it’s like giving a soul to a soulless thing.
Starting now to cast the actors’ faces for masks—as puppeteers they’ll be visible as the spirits of the island. So gobs of plaster bandages, Vaseline, Saran-wrap, and patience, and then plaster positives from the plaster negatives, and then building up shells on the positives, and then actually designing what they’re going to look like. It does take time.
A good time talking with a friend who has long experience in present-day ceremonial magic. Mostly valuable in confirming a lot of my instincts: the modes of trance=inducing; the physical toll of that; the great challenge of controlling an elemental such as Ariel; the great difficulty Prospero would have in moving so rapidly between contact with the human world and contact with the spirit world.
A new thought, too. There’s the basic folk wisdom of “Don’t invoke anything you can’t dismiss,” or more jocularly, “Don’t invoke anything larger than your head.” But in The Tempest, we start with a magical spell—the tempest itself—and there is no banishing of it. In fact it continues throughout the play, with the Folio’s stage directions of thunder at two points. My sense is that Prospero has indeed invoked something that gives him a great challenge to dismiss, and the play itself is the ceremony of a long, arduous completion of the spell. Only at the relinquishing of his power is the Tempest ended.
• The obvious parallel as a burlesque of the power politics of the Milanese and Neapolitan Courts. We should feel that their plotting is absurd, pathetic, but also fraught with danger. The world is rife with the chaos of UBU.
• To both Trinculo and Caliban, Stephano is their liberator. Trinculo can rise from being the butt of jokes and abuse, Caliban from literal enslavement and humiliation. But power is power, and it must be clear that Stephano would be a mad miniature Stalin.
• Stephano derives his power from control of the liquor supply. The flask is the royal treasury. They must handle it as if it’s jewel-encrusted.
• At the crucial moment, Caliban offers Miranda to Stephano. This is his ultimate corruption. Why wouldn’t he aspire to her himself? My premise is that Prospero, for purposes both of vengeance and safety, has castrated him. So he can possess her only by proxy. Their aggrandizing Stephano is the oppresseds’ habit of gaining proxy power by self-enslavement.
• Radical shifts of tone in latter part of scene: rage to lasciviousness to slobbery sentimentality to cold calculation to musical comedy to terror to drunken resolution. This should build the contrast of absurdity with perilous unpredictability.
3:2—STEPHANO PLOTS HIS KINGSHIP AS HIS FLUNKIES JOCKEY FOR POWER.
Music. To black. Recapitulation of musical themes. Audio fragments of Gonzalo’s utopian vision blend in and out.
01-Lights up on the clump of Trinculo R, Stephano C and Caliban L, DC, swaying slowly back and forth. Stephano drinks, hands it to Trinculo.
>>>Stephano: Tell not me:—when the Butt is out, we will drink water; not a drop before: therefore bear up and board’em.—Servant Monster, drink to me.
Takes it from Trinculo, gives it to Caliban. Trinculo reaches for it, Stephano takes it again, drinks.
>>>Trinculo: Servant Monster! the folly of this Island! They say there’s but five upon this isle: we are three of them; if th’ other two be brained like us, the State totters.
Trinculo takes it, Stephano grabs it back, hands it to Caliban. Caliban takes long drink.
>>>Stephano: Drink, servant Monster, when I bid thee: thy eyes are set in thy head.
>>>Trinculo: Where should they be set else? he were a brave Monster if they were set in his tail.
Stephano hands flask to Trinculo, who drinks. Stephano & Trinculo stagger away, then regroup.
>>>Stephano: My man-Monster hath drowned his tongue in sack. Thou shalt be my Lieutenant Monster. Moon-calf, speak once in thy life, if thou beest a good Moon-calf.
>>>Caliban: How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe.
02-Kneels to kiss Stephano’s shoe. Trinculo offers him his ass to lick.
>>>I’ll not serve him, he is not valiant.
Trinculo and Stephano stagger away, regroup again.
>>>Trinculo: Thou liest, most ignorant Monster. Why, thou deboshed fish thou, was there ever a man a Coward that hath drunk so much Sack as I to-day? Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie, being but half a Fish and half a Monster?
>>>Caliban: Lo, how he mocks me! wilt thou let him, my Lord?
>>>Trinculo: ‘Lord’ quoth he!—that a Monster should be such a Natural!
>>>Caliban: Lo, lo, again! bite him to death, I prithee.
Stephano grabs Trinculo.
>>>Stephano: Trinculo, keep a good tongue in your head: if you prove a mutineer, the next Tree! The poor Monster’s my subject, and he shall not suffer indignity.
03-He puts his hand on Caliban’s head on “my subject,” forcing him down at “he shall not suffer indignity.”
>>>Caliban: I thank my noble Lord. Wilt thou be pleas’d
>>>To hearken once again the suit I made thee?
Stephano X R to distance, as if giving audience to the others. Trinculo realizes he’s leaning on Caliban, follows Stephano, winding up to R of Stephano.
>>>Stephano: Marry, will I; kneel, and repeat it: I will stand, and so shall Trinculo.
Both collapse. Ariel appears from behind Caliban, then disappears. Caliban makes broad expressive gestures as he makes his petition.
>>>Caliban: As I told thee, I am subject to a Tyrant, a Sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the Island.
04-Ariel reappears to R of Stephano, behind Trinculo.
>>>Ariel: Thou liest.
>>>Caliban: Thou liest, thou jesting Monkey thou;
>>>I would my valiant Master would destroy thee;
>>>I do not lie.
>>>Stephano: Trinculo, if you trouble him any more in his tale, by this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth.
>>>Trinculo: Why, I said nothing.
>>>Stephano: Mum then and no more. Proceed.
>>>Caliban: I say, by Sorcery he got this isle;
>>>From me he got it: if thy Greatness will,
>>>Revenge it on him,—for, I know, thou dar’st;
>>>But this Thing dare not,—
>>>Stephano: That’s most certain.
>>>Caliban: Thou shalt be Lord of it and I’ll serve thee.
>>>Stephano: How now shall this be compassed? Canst thou bring me to the party?
>>>Caliban: Yea, yea, my Lord: I’ll yield him thee asleep,
>>>Where thou may’st knock a nail into his head.
Ariel reappears above Trinculo.
>>>Ariel: Thou liest; thou canst not.
Ariel disappears. Caliban in extreme rage:
>>>Caliban: What a pied Ninny’s this! Thou scurvy patch!—
>>>I do beseech thy Greatness, give him blows,
>>>And take his bottle from him: When that’s gone
>>>He shall drink nought but brine; for I’ll not show him
>>>Where the quick Freshes are.
Stephano grabs Trinculo.
>>>Stephano: Trinculo, interrupt the Monster one word further, and, by this hand, I’ll turn my mercy out o’ doors and make a Stock-fish of thee.
Turning away, pounding his own hand.
>>>Trinculo: Why, what did I? I’ll go further off.
>>>Stephano: Didst thou not say he lied?
Grieved blurt from Caliban. Ariel appears behind Trinculo, trilling merrily.
>>>Ariel: Thou liest.
>>>Stephano: Do I so? take thou that.
05-Ariel disappears. Stephano beats Trinculo.
>>>As you like this, give me the lie another time.
>>>Trinculo: I did not give thee the lie:—
Trinculo shakes loose.
>>>Out o’ your wits and hearing too?—A pox o’ your bottle! this can Sack and drinking do.—A mildew on your Monster, and the devil take your fingers!
Caliban in fit of laughter, painful.
>>>Caliban: Ha, ha, ha!
>>>Stephano: Now, forward with your Tale.—Prithee stand further off.
Stephano hauls Trinculo to Left, Caliban around above them to R. Then Stephano waves Trinculo farther L but himself moves backward to R as Trinculo remains immobile. Caliban fierce.
>>>Caliban: Beat him enough: after a little time
>>>I’ll beat him too.
>>>Stephano: Stand further.—Come, proceed.
>>>Caliban: Why, as I told thee, ’tis a custom with him
>>>I’ the afternoon to sleep: there thou may’st brain him,
>>>Having first seiz’d his books; or with a log
>>>Batter his skull, or paunch him with a stake,
>>>Or cut his windpipe with thy knife. Remember
>>>First to possess his Books;
06-Silver books appear before them, floating. All watch these as if hallucinogenic visions.
>>> for without them
>>>He’s but a Sot, as I am, nor hath not
>>>One Spirit to command: they all do hate him
>>>As rootedly as I. Burn but his Books;
>>>And that most deeply to consider is
>>>The beauty of his daughter;
Miranda mask appears before them, floating. Caliban reaches to touch it, then remembers himself. Grieving:
>>> he himself
>>>Calls her a nonpareil: I never saw a woman,
>>>But only Sycorax my Dam and she;
>>>But she as far surpasseth Sycorax
>>>As great’st does least.
>>>Stephano: Is it so brave a Lass?
>>>Caliban: Ay, Lord; she will become thy bed, I warrant,
>>>And bring thee forth brave brood.
>>>Stephano: Monster, I will kill this man: his daughter and I will be King and Queen,—save our Graces! and Trinculo and thyself shall be Viceroys.
Pats and hugs Caliban, then turns to Trinculo, far L.
>>>Dost thou like the plot, Trinculo?
>>>Stephano: Give me thy hand: I am sorry I beat thee;
07-Stephano & Trinculo embrace. Caliban joins in. They build to a copious weeping. Then Stephano suddenly regains dignity:
>>>but, while thou livest, keep a good tongue in thy head.
Whacks Trinculo on head.
>>>Caliban: Within this half hour will he be asleep;
>>>Wilt thou destroy him then?
>>>Stephano: Ay, on mine honour.
>>>Ariel: This will I tell my Master.
Ariel appears above behind them, then disappears.
>>>Caliban: Thou mak’st me merry. Will you troll the Catch
>>>You taught me but while-ago?
>>>Stephano: At thy request, Monster: Come on, Trinculo, let us sing.
>>>Flout ‘em, and scout ’em; and scout ‘em, and flout ’em;
>>>Thought is free.
They sway back and forth singing, then lose balance, fall.
>>>Caliban: That’s not the tune.
Sound of music. All sudden attention.
>>>Stephano: What is this?
>>>Trinculo: This is the tune of our Catch, played by the picture of Nobody.
>>>Stephano: If thou beest a man, show thyself in thy likeness: if thou beest a devil, do as thou list.
Stephano and Trinculo turn about, looking all directions.
>>>Trinculo: O, forgive me my sins!
>>>Stephano: He that dies pays all debts: I defy thee.—Mercy upon us!
Fist raised, then suddenly cowers, clutching Trinculo, both near weeping with terror.
>>>Caliban: Art thou afeard?
>>>Stephano: No, Monster, not I.
08-Music, light change. Great wonder, with instinctive gestures.
>>>Caliban: Be not afeard: the Isle is full of noises,
>>>Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.
>>>Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
>>>Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
>>>That, if I then had wak’d after long sleep,
>>>Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
>>>The clouds methought would open and show riches
>>>Ready to drop upon me; that, when I wak’d
>>>I cried to dream again.
In the same dreamy tone:
>>>Stephano: This will prove a brave kingdom to me, where I shall have my Music for nothing.
>>>Caliban: When Prospero is destroyed.
>>>Stephano: That shall be by and by.
Eager, then reluctant:
>>>Trinculo: The sound is going away: let’s follow it, and after do our work.
>>>Stephano: Lead, Monster; we’ll follow.—I would I could see this Drummer! he lays it on. Wilt come?
• Begins with image of Ferdinand’s log-carrying, identical & contrastive with Caliban. This shouldn’t tilt toward an interpretation of the parallel; just let it resonate.
• This is their second meeting. Their first is entirely the shock and wonder of it; now, it’s at the stage of decision. It carries a new level of import because both are acknowledging that it’s not illusion, that it’s in the real world: Ferdinand is imprisoned; Miranda is in violation of her father’s commands.
• We should feel that this disobedience is something entirely new for Miranda. A new stage of her evolution: she too is claiming freedom.
• Prospero’s presence in this scene: His lines express nothing but joy and triumph, but I think their brevity suggest something more. Here too he’s deeply conflicted even as his plot succeeds. He’s seeing his daughter in a new way, intimately, almost as if he’s seeing her make love for the first time, or birth a baby.
• Sense of his invisibility: he’s not just concealed upstage; he’s close to them, trying to direct the scene, control it, as with T. Kantor’s presence.
• His bringing them together through must not suggest that their union is controlled by his magic spell. Their decision is their own. Key moment: Prospero takes their hands in his, as if to bring them together; Miranda instinctively brushes his hand—this outside force—aside, herself giving her hand to Ferdinand.
• After the end of Act 1, when he angrily chastises her, Prospero addresses Miranda directly only here, when he’s invisible, and only in his first line. After that, his address is entirely to Ferdinand. He must distance himself from her to avoid the pain.
3:1—THE DAUGHTER, WHILE FULFILLING HER FATHER’S INTENTION, CLAIMS HER OWN WILL.
Shadow shifts to sea weed movement. Prospero appears in shadow UC. Makes sign as if summoning Ferdinand.
01-Enter Ferdinand, dragging in log from R to LC. Ariel appears from behind him, touches log, as if putting heavy weight upon it. Ferdinand drops it, tries at each major line to lift it, Ariel toying with him.
>>>Ferdinand: There be some Sports are painful, and their labour
>>>Sets off delight in them: Some kinds of baseness
>>>Are nobly undergone. This my mean Task
>>>Would be as heavy to me as odious; but
>>>The Mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead
>>>And makes my labours pleasures:
Lifts it to shoulder: new energy.
>>> I must remove
>>>Some thousands of these Logs and pile them up,
>>>Upon a sore injunction:
>>>But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours,
>>>Most busy least when I do it.
Drops it again. Ariel vanishes. Prospero makes gesture, calling forth Miranda.
02-Miranda enters from R.
>>>Miranda: Alas! now, pray you,
>>>Work not so hard: I would the lightning had
>>>Burnt up those Logs that you are enjoin’d to pile!
>>>Pray, set it down and rest you: my Father
>>>Is hard at study; pray now, rest yourself:
>>>He’s safe for these three hours.
Prospero shadow fades.
>>>Ferdinand: O most dear Mistress,
>>>The Sun will set, before I shall discharge
>>>What I must strive to do.
>>>Miranda: If you’ll sit down,
>>>I’ll bear your Logs the while. Pray, give me that;
>>>I’ll carry it to the pile.
>>>Ferdinand: No, precious Creature:
>>>I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
>>>Than you should such dishonour undergo,
>>>While I sit lazy by.
>>>Miranda: It would become me
>>>As well as it does you: and I should do it
>>>With much more ease; for my good will is to it,
>>>And yours it is against.
Prospero appears UC, behind them.
>>>Prospero: Poor worm! thou art infected:
>>>This visitation shows it.
>>>Miranda: You look wearily.
>>>Ferdinand: No, noble Mistress; ’tis fresh morning with me
>>>When you are by at night. I do beseech you—
>>>What is your name?
Startle from Prospero.
>>> O my Father!
>>>I have broke your hest to say so.
>>>Ferdinand: Admir’d Miranda!
>>>Indeed, the top of Admiration; worth
>>>What’s dearest to the world! Full many a Lady
>>>I have ey’d with best regard, and many a time
>>>The harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
>>>Brought my too diligent ear: but you, O you!
>>>So perfect and so peerless, are created
>>>Of every Creature’s best.
03-Ferdinand reaches, touches her face. Prospero adjusts her head away. They continue, as Prospero seems to echo their lines, make vague gestures as if directing.
>>>Miranda: I do not know
>>>One of my sex; no woman’s face remember,
>>>Save, from my glass, mine own: nor have I seen
>>>More that I may call men than you, good friend,
>>>And my dear Father: how features are abroad,
>>>I am skill-less of; but I would not wish
>>>Any Companion in the world but you;
>>>Nor can imagination form a shape,
>>>Besides yourself, to like of. But I prattle
>>>Something too wildly and my Father’s precepts
>>>I do forget.
>>>Ferdinand: I am in my condition
>>>A Prince, Miranda; I do think, a King;
>>>(I would not so!) and would no more endure
>>>This wooden slavery than to suffer
>>>The flesh-fly blow my mouth. Hear my soul speak:
>>>The very instant that I saw you did
>>>My heart fly to your service; there resides,
>>>To make me slave to it; and for your sake
>>>Am I this patient Log-man.
>>>Miranda: Do you love me?
>>>Ferdinand: O heaven! O earth! bear witness, I,
>>>Beyond all limit of what else i’ the world,
>>>Do love, prize, honor you.
>>>Miranda: I am a fool
>>>To weep at what I am glad of.
04-Backing away UC, Prospero raises his arms in formal invocation, but looks downward, unable to look at them.
>>>Prospero: Fair encounter
>>>Of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace
>>>On that which breeds between them!
>>>Ferdinand: Wherefore weep you?
>>>Miranda: At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer
>>>What I desire to give; and much less take
>>>What I shall die to want. Hence, bashful cunning!
>>>And prompt me, plain and holy innocence!
>>>I am your wife, if you will marry me;
Sharp startle from Prospero.
>>>If not, I’ll die your maid: to be your fellow
>>>You may deny me; but I’ll be your servant
>>>Whether you will or no.
>>>Ferdinand: My Mistress, dearest;
>>>And I thus humble ever.
>>>Miranda: My husband then?
>>>Ferdinand: Ay, with a heart as willing
>>>As bondage e’er saw freedom: here’s my hand.
05-Sudden movement by Prospero, grasping her hand. Hold, then with great difficulty starts to place her hand in Ferdinand’s, averts his eyes. Instinctively she brushes his hand away, then grasps Ferdinand’s.
>>>Miranda: And mine, with my heart in’t: and now farewell
>>>Till half an hour hence.
>>>Ferdinand: A thousand thousand!
06-They draw together and kiss. Prospero hovers as if to touch them, finally averts his face.
Miranda rushes out R. Ferdinand drags log laboriously off L. Long breath from Prospero.
>>>Prospero: So glad of this as they, who are surpris’d withal,
>>>I cannot be; but my rejoicing
>>>At nothing can be more.
Prospero X to far R, to book.
>>> I’ll to my book;
>>>For yet, ere supper time, must I perform
>>>Much business appertaining.
07-Turns a mirrored page. He is illuminated by light from the pages, still distraught. Cries of “Ferdinand! My son!” Lightning. Black. Intermission.
Back from trip East to see Elizabeth in The Clean House with Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, also visiting friends in Philadelphia and New York. Returning, learned that our partner theatre Sonoma County Repertory has received a $25,000 grant to support the high school tour of The Tempest.
Nearly solid on my lines for Prospero—two more weeks will make them pretty firm. Now facing the last two sculptings—Ferdinand and Miranda—then starting the serious work on set building and the endless finishing process of the heads. The show is fully cast, and I’m doing individual meetings with the actors on character and text. And Elizabeth comes home in a week.