The Line Police (or, Keeping My Pants On)
Director Trull has decided that the proper way to approach the play is to assume that every choice Author Steele made was deliberate and somehow important to the playing of the piece.
This means that commas and periods and ellipses (and the absence of same) all mean something. That if Author Steele wrote “the” instead of “that” or “I have” instead of “I’ve” it is as important as the choice of “B flat” instead of “B” would be in a piece of music.
It’s an approach not unlike the one the learned folks at Shakespeare & Company (trainers of actors all over the world, including our local festival artists) take to performance interpretation of the work of Author Shakespeare. It means one thing if a period occurs in the middle of a line of verse and quite another if it occurs at the end of the line. Playing Shakespeare begins with playing the original punctuation the way that it occurs in the most original form we have for most of the plays — the First Folio.
And I thought I had the thing memorized.
Rehearsal One revealed how wrong I was. I had SOMETHING memorized. I was playing SOMETHING. The question is — by Director Trull’s standards — was it really the play that Author Steele wrote? Or was it an imperfect facsimile that began with Author Steele’s script but was not necessarily (entirely) true to it? To apply the musical analogy: Is there an essential melody that was somehow perverted by the notes that I altered and added along the way?
Time will tell — assuming I can ever learn to really speak the thing the way that it’s (or should I say “it was”) written in the first place. Rehearsals now consist largely of me speaking to the Committee of Line Police (Director Trull, Assistant Director Miranda, Stage Manager Ruth) and hoping I can put together a sentence or two before I’m interrupted or a hand shoots up. This can be intimidating and frustrating, not to mention a little frightening. I mean, I THOUGHT I knew the damned thing.
I keep thinking of Geoffrey Rush’s character in the movie, Shine, who became so consumed with learning the notes of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto that he forgot to put his pants on when he went to retrieve the mail.
This I know: As tolerant and open-minded as my neighbors are, wandering the neighborhood pantless will not fly.