We are one week into rehearsal and have already shed many a tear and broke into many a giggling fit. In other words, things are going well.
Sunday was our marathon script session with read throughs of both plays and since then we've been dropping in scenes from the first acts of both Hamlet and Twelfth Night. Dropping in is a rehearsal technique used by Shakespeare & Co. that is an alternate way of doing text work. It stimulates the imagination and encourages a profound emotional connection to the words. The ground of the text becomes very real beneath you as does your relationships, questions are illuminated, it's just a tremendously creative way to work. Another thing about the work - there are ghosts in the room - I'm not just talking about the Ghost of Hamlet's father - there are the ghosts of past productions of the plays. There are moments I flash back to the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express touring production that I saw around age 8 or 9 and Ophelia handing out floors as she descended the stairs of the auditorium in Thomas Harrison Middle School. There is the memory of assistant directing the show in high school and the Ghost's distorted voice and all the gun play in our modernized Denmark, and most present of all is the production I directed for Pittsburgh Classic Players back in 2013, I've promised the actors not to talk too much about my last Hamlet, I think they know though that I am doing Hamlet again not to get back to any of those prior Hamlets, no it's that my belief in the vitality of the play is that strong, I could do it twenty times and still have things to find. Meanwhile, over in Illyria where I have fewer experiences though Avital Shira's production for Portland Actors Ensemble a few years back as well as the one from the American Shakespeare Center's Actor's Renaissance Season in 2010 are fond touchstones, I am amazed at how the plays enrich each other. I have always felt the best Twelfth Night's have a tragic tone underneath the comedy as characters like Sir Toby cannot function without drink, as characters like Malvolio seethe with resentment over their rank and all that remains out of their reach, as Orsino struggles to understand love and accept age, as Olivia and Viola mourn for their respective brothers, and as the sad fool returns to his household.