There's an irresistible pattern to my final coursework in the Shakespeare and performance program. Linklater voice lessons with Mary Coy, Acting class with Allison Glenzer, and so it shouldn't really surprise me that the first thing I do with my brand spankin' new MFA in directing is land a gig as an actor. I can't seem to do anything normal.
One of the revelations that I've had in the past few years is that, while I never enjoyed acting as much when I was younger, I find that I do more so now, which I theorize has something to do with the fact that, in my thirties, I'm beginning to be of an age where the more interesting roles are within the realm of possibility. Who wants to play Romeo when you can play Lord Capulet?
So anyway, here I am in Fayetteville, NC, working with Sweet Tea Shakespeare on their inaugural performance: Much Ado About Nothing. Adirondack Shakespeare friends, don't worry, I'll be done with plenty of time to make it to Schroon Lake for your season. As the above paragraph might imply, I'm playing Leonato.
One of the things you can't help but notice about this play is that it's full of very smart people, and while all of them get duped pretty handily by Don Jon's plot, the barely competent members are the watch discover the plot without really even trying. Constables were not, generally speaking, regarded very highly in the period. The Merry Devil of Edmonton contains a line about never looking "higher than the element of a constable," and a little bit more damning is Anthony Dull in Love's Labours Lost. And it's not even Dogberry who discovers the plot. To paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, it's the even more foolish fools who follow him.
Generally speaking, things are going well. We've just had our first stumble of the first act (by which I mean production act 1: the first half) of the play today, and Jeremy seems to think we're in pretty good shape. My lines are mostly there, but I haven't had much of a chance to devote time to the second half yet. I'll be back to work on that in the morning. Having two Shakespeare related graduate degrees means that I don't have to worry so much about not knowing what I'm saying, and while the lines still need to be learned, that's going much better than when I was having to devote 9/10 of my brain power to thesis revisions.
I'm also finding that this stint as a performer is maybe just the respite I needed from directing, producing, and stage managing. It uses a completely different part of my brain, and also carries with it the liberating ability to surrender. When Jeremy asks me if I would stand somewhere else, my first thought is "Absoluetly! I would love to!" Don't get me wrong, I still wind up using my stage composition powers: due to my move out from Staunton, I missed a lot of the initial blocking, and I am generally able to just figure out where I'm supposed to stand and go if I know which side of the stage I'm entering and exiting, but I always do so knowing that, if I do the wrong thing, someone else will tell me what the right thing is, and I don't have to worry about it.
I don't think I'm going to give up the directing, managing, and producing; actually, since I have a gig with Adirondack Shakes as their PSM later this summer, I know I'm not, but it's a nice change after 3 years of MFA directing school.
Normally I would say I can't wait to see what it's like when we put it all together, but since I'll be on stage, I won't get the chance. And you know what? That's kind of liberating too. I'm starting to wonder why I didn't try this acting thing a bit more often.
Oh right! Busy directing. And stage managing. And producing. And revising my theses.