The Power of Play!
Much Ado rehearsals began this week, and we are off to a great start. For the next nine weeks, we will be in very close quarters (small rehearsal spaces, small dressing rooms), but this is a great group who showed themselves to be completely willing to dive into the work and commit to it.
This week was play-thru. Rather than start with a dry read of the play, I assumed (hopefully correctly) that the cast had all already read the script, and therefore I wanted our first read of the play to be on our feet.
I learned play-thru from Carmen. Basically, the idea is to act out the script as well as possible on a first read, but removing all reverence for the text as well as any context. Play-thru is a chance to be silly, have fun with the script, and exercise creativity with no boundaries.
It’s an entertaining improv exercise. As director, I get to throw genres, personalities, character ticks and behaviors at the actors and watch what they come up with on the spot. Everyone was asked to bring in ridiculous or mundane objects that we could then use as props, which adds another element to it. The idea is that there is too much going on, so the actors really do have to improvise in the moment as they try to juggle their scripts, some very silly props, and moving and interacting with each other.
Some examples included: Benedick’s “…yet I am well” speech about women and love as Elvis, a constipated Don Pedro, Michele Obama and the Spice Girls in the orchard scene, and The Watch turning into Transformers and combining into a giant robot in order to catch Conrade and Borachio.
Here’s an idea of what it looks like:
All in all, there was a great deal of laughter, which as far as I am concerned, is a great way to start. It gave us a chance to be silly with each other and for us to begin to get to know each other better.
Next week we begin building scenes the way they will actually be played,