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Trying it out

Well, and as mentioned previously, YHB has auditioned for Richard III. I won’t know for a couple of days if I will be cast, but the audition went well, if one can speak of an audition from a process-oriented stance, independent of outcome. Of course, if I don’t get a part, the audition will have gone very poorly in retrospect, but at the moment, I would say it went well.

This was one of the auditions where we are all in the big hall and watch each other. It seems like a very community-theater way of doing things, assuming that we are not all completely eating our proverbials over the audition process and therefore able to be a big community together. I quite like it, as a way to spend an evening, actually. Which you may believe or not.

The thing about auditioning for a really great play is that a really great play is capable of a million interpretations—I should probably say that when I find a play really great, it is because it is capable of a million interpretations, each line capable of being shaded in a variety of different ways, each potentially powerful and freighted in a different way. That said, there are wrong ways to read a line, and with Shakespeare particularly, it is difficult, if you haven’t prepared the text, to get the meaning and the rhythms to work together, much less to work with the characters. Most of the people auditioning were quite good, but I heard about four people read the line in I,i

We speak no treason, man. We say the King is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen well struck in years.

and I wanted to get up and shake them and say it’s a joke! Pause after the word queen and think! And then, of course, somebody did, and I hated him for it.

But the real anecdote of the evening was that after we did our readings (mostly the Clarence scene from I,i; the Elizabeth scene in IV,iv; the Anne scene in I,ii; and the Prince Edward scene in III,i) the director asked if anybody wanted to read anything else. One young man asked if he could read the opening monologue, and the director said yes. And then, well, as one fellah said, how could any of us resist? So it was, I think, seven consecutive winters of our discontent. And it was a hoot. I mean, we were doing it seriously, we weren’t spoofing it (although I’m afraid I did do it in my Ian Dury voice), but come on—it’s just inherently funny.

Of course, my instinct is to play up the humor in the scene, anyway, as it is with all scenes. But this monologue really is funny. The whole series of comparisons between war and peace, leading up to his conclusion that… war is better! And then the outright statement of intention: I am determined to be a villain. That’s a laugh line, if I’ve ever heard one. And, of course, if it’s a laugh line at the beginning of the play, it sets us all up for real gasps when it turns out that he means it, surprising even (I think) himself with the extent of his villainy. And if you play the scene without humor, getting the audience to hate Dickon from the start, then where’s the play?

Oh, another comment from the audition, while I’m at it. None of us limped. None of us hunched over. Nobody cradled a withered hand. The director didn’t ask us to (she gave very little direction), and I suspect that we were all a bit embarrassed to pull out the crutches. And, I suppose, she feel that she has enough sense of our physical acting and our movement from the scene readings. And likely enough she is planning to downplay the whole limping business anyway, or else (she is a choreographer) she is confident in her ability to teach the physical business if she gets somebody who can do the lines. Still, a roomful of aspirant Richards, and no hunchbacks.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


I've got a HUNCH
You're gonna be king!

Not likely. I mean, I sure hope so, as I want to play the part and think I would totally kill in it (boom boom), but it's a longshot. In the group I saw last night (and there are more tonight), there are three people other than me who did well enough to cast in the part. Then it's a question of whether she wants a bigger guy or a smaller, a younger guy or older, etc, etc—but the thing that should tip the scales for her is that she has seen (at least) one of the other guys in shows before, and has a sense of how much better he will get, while for all she knows, this is my peak.


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