Two Gentlemen of Verona

A madly under-rated play with a dog, by William Shakespeare

Performed without group rehearsal using ‘cue script’ style preparation

Two cousins as close as brothers. Two interfering fathers. Two young ladies, one uncertain of her heart, one much beset with blundering interference. Two comic servants and a distracted serving wench.  Add in a big dose of love, heart-break, betrayal, banishments, serenades, disguises, revelations, three outlaws and of course, a dog.

What is ‘cue script’ work?

Shakespeare’s own players had no rehearsal, as we understand it. They carried up to 40 different roles in their heads, and were expected to perform them sometimes at only an hour’s notice. Working only from their own character’s lines and brief cues, they had, against the clock, to discover, build and craft their character, block their own movement and learn their lines. A new part in a new play might have received some instruction from the playwright in how they wanted it delivered, but that was all. A ticket to the first performance of a new play in one of London’s first playhouses cost twice the normal entrance fee (partly to make sure some money was made of offset the theatre manager’s investment in the text, partly for audience to experience the moments of realisation and discovery as the players made them in the play).

We know this sounds crazy, but we also know it produces absolutely incredible acting, and truly memorable and moving performances, as our players act absolutely in the heart of every moment, discovering what their scenes are about as they play them. It’s truly exhilarating and inspiring theatre.

Two Gentlemen of  Verona was performed at the Cockpit Theatre on Sunday 13 December. Director and Dramaturg: Lizzie Conrad Hughes

Read some of the interviews and reviews here:

Listen to the Free Seed interview here at 38 mins in.

Read Lizzie Conrad Hughes’ blog on the cue script journey

Making theatre history at the Rose Playhouse, Bankside

On 31 March 2015, twenty actors from the salon:collective made theatre history. They performed ten scenes from Shakespeare plays on the site of the Rose Playhouse itself, underneath Rose Court on Park Street, just around the corner from the new Globe Theatre. They did it in the “cue scripts” style as used in the Rose’s own time: working only from cues and their own lines, with no knowledge who would be in their scenes with them or what they would say beyond the cue, or even who would be giving them their cue! True to the tradition of the old playhouses, the book-holder was there to give lines when needed, and the audience enjoyed witnessing some truly unique, moving, dramatic and hilarious theatre.

image credit: Camilla Greenwell

Read the review of Shakespeare:Direct at the Rose here