Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Taming of the Shrew: WILLPOWER

artwork by the amazing Andrew Rhodenbaugh

If the catch word for Midsummer was Blessed, Taming of the Shrew's has to be:  WILLPOWER. Literally the day after we closed Midsummer, Andrew and I started abridging the script for Taming. We knew we wanted to do it in a bar and we knew we wanted it to be quick. That was about it. We spent the week working on the script and finding people to do the show. What you have to understand about Midsummer, is that we knew we wanted to do it for about 7 months before we we opened. For Taming, it was four weeks, three by the time we had a cast and script. It was a race to the finish.

We chose Taming because we wanted to do something more adult and bawdy and we wanted to do it in a bar. All it took was one phone call and one meeting with Kelleher's and we were all set up. They very graciously opened up for us on Sunday and agreed to serve drinks and appetizers. We had another bar in mind and THANK GOODNESS it didn't work out. (Remember the 100+ degree weather?) Everything happens for a reason. Plus Kelleher's was PERFECT for what we wanted to do AND we were able to get in their twice to rehearse.

Waiting for our playing space to clear out
dang customers enjoying their dinner in our theatre space! 

One of Midsummer's biggest adventures was finding rehearsal space, Taming's was how we asked people to be in the show. All three of us firmly stand behind the idea that EVERYONE can act. We cast people we want to simply hang out with for a few hours every day for a month. Their ability to act is second on our minds. And you know what, it hasn't failed us yet! The perfect person for each role has surfaced (even if it is the WEEK OF the show..eeep!) and each person was spot on and AMAZING. This is the kind of theatre magic I LIVE for. Being surrounded by a group of people who are playful, passionate, and dedicated to telling a great story in a way that will appeal to an audience...seriously, WHAT could be better?

We started asking people to be in the show through calls, text, emails, facebook, etc. Andrew and I would sometimes accompany a couple photos with our texts. Here is an example of what we would send:

please be in Taming....

You know what....IT WORKED. We were even able to do some gender reversals within our cast. Our Baptista (Victoria), Grumio (Liz) and Tranio (Sarah) were women!

Doing two Shakespeare shows is not easy. We had to get a bit extreme in the way we asked our friends to join. For example, Andrew, Jess and I literally cornered John (Petruchio) in the parking lot of Walgreens to ask, nay...BEG him to be in the show. We also asked our Pedant (Alex) to be in the show....the week of the show. He got the script on a friday and was memorized and blocked and amazing on monday. BLESSED. We were also able to get an AMAZING local band, The Dirty Gentlemen to play for us. Seriously, look them up, they are incredible. The Dirty Gentlemen
As you can see from the picture above, they came to one of our rehearsals and then churned out some amazing sounds that fit the bawdy/ruckus-y feel we were going for.

One thing we found that worked really well to help with memorization (since we had three weeks to memorize) was that we would start our rehearsal off with a line through. Since the play was only an hour long, this served as a great way to warm up too!

I love it when two people work well and jive well as artistic collaborative partners. John and I worked on the Kate/Petruchio fight with the help of Andrew, Jess and Sarah. Our inspiration was:

It was amazing how well we were able to self direct and direct one another. When we needed to hold to fix a moment or when something didn't work or feel right, we worked on it. There was only respect for each other. We tried everything we suggested or wanted to try, justified moment and choices without any ego. All positive. Maybe the reason it worked so well, was that we had the story at the heart of everything we did. (That and John is an amazing acting partner [I am sorry for punching you in the face])

Positive Artistic Collaboration is BY FAR my FAVORITE THING. 

I am sad we were only able to do one show of Taming. It was worth every stressful minute. It was worth the late night painting session where we made all the posters, worrying about whether or not the bar will be open they days we wanted to rehearse, rehearsing in 100+ buggy weather, rehearsing at Schnuks, rehearsing in Hannah's basement, dealing with unconventional seating and having to improvise with the seating the day of the show, were all completely worth it. We took a hard (can be seen as outdated) story and attempted to tell it in a way that was more modern and relatable. MORE IMPORTATNLY, it was fun.

A big big thank you to everyone who worked on the show and everyone who came out to see it!
our first read through, John was sick so we skyped him in!

Rehearsal on the Porch. Feels like home now!

Rehearsal at Schnuks, our second home!

Outside of Kelleher's!

some last minute adjustments

John setting up our seating. Our 70 seat house filled up in about 15 minutes. We had to add chairs along the side and people stood up around the bar to watch. 



Tranio and Lucentio

Our faithful servants, Hannah and Rachel!

The ladies

The men

Petruchio, Katherina, Bianca and Lucentio

Petruchio, Katherina, Widow, Hortensio, Bianca and Lucentio

The Minola family, Katherina, Baptista and Bianca
Lucentio, Vincentio and.....Lucentio? Whaaaa?

Grumio and Petruchio

Hortensio and Petruchio

Hortensio and Lucentio

Hortensio, Bianca and Lucentio...who is going to win Bianca's hand?

Vincentio and Baptista. Get it. 

"Ten marks my Kate does put her down"