By Chris Donnelly
After the briefest of meetings pre-Christmas for a readthrough, we intrepid theatrical warriors convened at the Karibou Education Centre on Monday, the 15th of January, to begin our epic journey.
I have been fortunate enough to work for this company on three previous occasions and it never ceases to amaze me how this most unique experience manifests itself.
Five virtual strangers walk into a room with nothing but some preconceived ideas of what the play might be and their role(s) within it; a thousand questions and very few answers. Yet five weeks later, these strangers are a functioning ensemble, who have directed, costumed, propped and shaped their many roles and are ready to perform a fully-fledged Shakespearian play.
The clarity of the storytelling is absolutely vital, therefore, in this very specific style and The Taming of the Shrew, I feel, is particularly challenging in this regard, for the following reason. Each actor is playing at least three roles, but some of those characters disguise themselves or swap identities for substantial parts of the play. This added layer of complexity increases tangibly he danger of confusing the audience.
Additionally, especially in light of the ‘Me too movement’ and the identity politics so prevalent in our modern-day society and psyche, the subject matter of the play itself, is it a misogynistic play or a play about misogyny? What was Shakespeare actually wanting to say by this problem play? What did we five want to say?
Immediately, we delved in.
However, these are hefty questions and it wasn’t too long before the strain became too much!
The level of professionalism of the group was such that work was inevitably taken well beyond the rehearsal room…
As I previously stated – many questions, few answers!
However, it was not long before ideas began to galvanize and strands come together…
And now we had found our emblem for the tour, we were well on our way!
Through various trials and errors; the following example being exploring the possibility of using birdsong to create an atmosphere for the beginning of a scene, featuring Bobby Delany, our wonderfully talented composer and musical expert, whom we employed for a few sessions.
Then, through it all – including Carl’s terror of the furniture, borne of the fact he consistently received substantial electric shocks from the furniture! – we arrived at a place of relative readiness!
And we were ready to embark…
On an awfully big adventure!!
Stay tuned for more updates from the road!