« Sixteen Lines: Second Line | Main | Sixteen Lines: Fourth Line »

Sixteen Lines: Third Line

So. Unless there is a rather surprising ad lib, the Woman does not reveal the name of the Man in question, leading to my character’s third line:

Woman, the scarlet letter shall there burn forever on thy remorseless bosom, echoing with its hue the flames of the eternal pit. Remain then, confined for a time to expiate thy sin, and on thy release, wear thou the letter still, as symbol of the brand upon thy soul!

Here’s a story: when I began to learn my lines for this play, I completely missed this one. I simply didn’t notice my character’s name. Which is inexplicable, as I have the script in a searchable PDF, and I did, in fact, do a search to see where my lines were. Anyway, when I was very-nearly off book on the rest of it, I went to format my sides for blocking (I think I have mentioned that I prefer to work with just my own pages, formatted with my own lines in big bold type, and lots of space for writing) and discovered this line, which needed to be memorized in a hurry. My Best Reader worked with me, and in an ingenious attempt to give me hints without giving me words, came up with a series of gestures that go with the words. I hope I don’t absent-mindedly use them on-stage.

Anyway, the first questions I am asking myself about each speech: Is my character for or against what he is saying? I have been directed to emphasize the defeat in the speech, the extent to which my character is aware that the Woman has successfully defied myself and authority (civil, ecclesiastical and Divine). I am against what I am saying, in the sense that I would rather not be saying it. This for and against is not terribly easy, it turns out—it does seem useful, as a question, perhaps because, not despite, the difficulty of answering it simply. I am for the punishment as appropriate to the situation. I am against the situation.

I think, for that reason, there is a minor key element to the speech. Certainly, this speech lacks the triumphal fierceness of the previous blasts. I am lifting it up for the middle part about the flames, addressing that (to begin to segue to the next question) to the circumjacent villagers rather than to the Woman. But then it modulates (if that’s the word I’m looking for) to a resigned tone that is, if not actually in a minor key (because my ears ain’t that good), metaphorically in a minor key.

This speech is followed by the Governmental Authority ending the ritual and the crowd dispersing, clearing the way for an expository scene which Your Humble Blogger is not in. Well, and actually I have been given the task of calling for the servant from off-stage, which was not among my original sixteen lines, and which I will not honor with its own entry. When I come back for my next line, the Woman has served her term of confinement and begun to settle into her new life.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

Post a comment

Please join in. Comments on older posts will be held for moderation. Don't be a jerk. Eat fruit.