Hi! Michelle here. College finals season* has interrupted the steady flow of Upstart Introductions so let's take a peek behind the scenes. Usually, this is my season to let Shakespeare lie fallow, but rebooting TUTT is requiring changes in the traditional flow of things. So I'm doing more Shakespeare prep than usual this time of year. Which started with getting a group of people together to read through The Merry Wives of Windsor. We'd done a reading like this for Henry V, to see if it was suited to our staging requirements, although the rules for the Merry Wives one differed a bit. Instead of putting people in specific roles, since I want to keep a clean slate for auditions, everyone picked random parts at the start of each act. So I read Simple in Act I, Mistress Quickly in Act IV, and Falstaff in Act V. There were also a bunch of readers who got to have fun with accents, Shakespeare has written them phonetically into the script for two characters so they can't really be banned. Plus, funny.
Merry Wives is a very lively play, very focused on its two main comedy points: pranking Falstaff and Anne Page's multiple suitors. Turns out there are many differences between how editors deal with the discrepancies between the Quarto and Folio versions**, so I'll be spending some time reading different editions and discussing the possibilities with my assistant director (one of the Upstarts you've yet to meet, see college finals note above).
Thanks to everyone who participated (most in the photo above). Shakespeare is best on the ears not the eyes so I appreciated the chance to hear a variety of voices explore the text. Next up for me is sorting through the books Ashley loaned me, starting with Kristin Linklater's Freeing Shakespeare's Voice: The Actor's Guide to Talking the Text. I'd read her first book, Freeing The Natural Voice, years ago and picked up some of the vocal exercises -- or at least I remember trying to get Gayle to use them in warmups.
Have a good wind down of the year, take care and stayed tuned.
*not finals season for me, but I could tell you a story about a night in a small room in the basement of Sargent Hall, a 2 ft. high stack of plays and my Intro To Greek Tragedy test the next morning. Sleep would have been weird after that marathon skip reading session.
**explained to me in a mini lecture from Ashley, after the test run finished