Our revels (for) now are ended… where has the Two Gents journey led us?
The process so really works! It works, and audiences love the result!
In fact, everything worked, from costumes, to characters, to the song and finally the jig, which had the audience stamping along with the players. Every player more than played their part, with the scenes kept alive, the staging and blocking very lively, good stage-pictures being made…
Our cue script Two Gentlemen was a full-scale full play, no doubts, no apologies, with a freshness and playfulness, with absolute clarity of intention in every word (an essential part of actually communicating what you need to communicate to fellow players, and thence to the audience, when nobody knows what you’re going to say, or how you’ll react, and so an essential part of how Shakespeare’s work was presumably intended to be spoken and experienced). Everyone was brilliant, and the work has vindicated itself. Which feels grand.
None of the goofs, gaffs and gormless moments made a ha’porth of difference, everyone laughed and gasped and cried. There have been multiple tales already of players’ friends saying, “Was that not supposed to happen?” So, one thing we know for good and all, and the phantom is laid: the audience don’t care a damn if you ask for a line in a scene, or are late on an entrance, or even miss it altogether (only once did I have to call in a scene, and it got one of the biggest woofs of the show). Players asking for a line in character, and in the moment, were universally popular and applauded.
Two of our friends from the Rose Playhouse were there, relishing the atmosphere and the happenings on stage, picturing the scene as it would have been at the Rose when Two Gentlemen was first performed there.
Some hard lessons learned as well. It is beyond vital to give an exit cue in a good, big voice, and ensure that every ending line comes out with good strong conviction. Hence, perhaps, the Shakespeare language trick of hitting the end word of a line (there’s always a very interesting word at the end of a line: it probably is there for a reason). And knowing your lines and your cues at a molecular level, to avoid mishaps in the heat of the moment, is essential.
And there is no avoiding the damage of human error; mine, as the part preparer, continuing the messy tradition of human error that is seemingly inextricable from this process. Two players (that I know of) had a line missing from their parts. It is my constant nightmare that this will happen, and I try so hard to make sure it doesn’t, but being human I failed. They have forgiven me, which is truly great-hearted of them. I am very lucky in my players, and I feel the full force of that luck after today.
Now the show is in the process of being processed: the Crabbe the Dog puppet is bundled up and at home in our shed; the props are making their way back to the props cupboard; one load of costume shirts has been washed (leaving about three more to do). And the audience and players alike are asking if we can do this again! Yes, I think we can, but what, when or how is wide open right now. It’ll simmer away in the back of my head for a month or two, I suspect, before growing into Project 2016, whatever that is. I hope we get to put a full show for Two Gentlemen. It really is a corking play, and now we’ve explored it with the cue scripts, maybe we can build a full production (with rehearsal). That would be fascinating, to use this process as the artistic fertilizer to a 21st Century production…
But not right now, I think.