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Malvolio Production Diary: second blocking rehearsal

For the second blocking rehearsal, my bit was III,iv. I think of III,iv as the yellow-stocking scene, because I am playing Malvolio and that’s when he comes in with the yellow stockings on. The fellow playing Andrew Aguecheek probably thinks of it as the duel scene. The actor playing Antonio probably thinks of it as the arrest scene. I don’t know how the actor playing Olivia thinks of it; she has the yellow-stocking bit and then goes out and comes back with Cesario for a second bit, totally different in tone and feeling, still within III,iv. It’s enough to drive a person French.

For my bit, the director concocted an Entrance, which I do think is important for the scene, and which will get a laugh if nothing else does. So that’s all right. I have started with some bits of business (easier when I’m off-book). Our Maria wasn’t there, which will make a difference, as part of the thing is a performance for Olivia and part is—well, none of it is for Maria, but some of the performance for Olivia involves Maria, and then part of it is probably at Maria as well. We’ll see, when our Maria comes back to town.

My part of the scene is actually in three bits: the first is with Oliva and Maria, which will work just fine. The second is by myself, and it seems very very long to me. I think I will suggest a couple of judicious cuts to match ones in the letter scene; the tang of the tongue and all. We’ll see. At any rate, that middle bit doesn’t feel funny to me at all. I tried a couple of things but nothing felt right to me. Well, we’ll see. The third bit is when Toby and Fabian come in with Maria, and at least last night in the blocking it was, enh, OK but not great. I’m not sure what would help. As soon as my monologue was done, I sat in Maria’s seat, which I really like—I do think that Chris’ observation that Malvolio is unable to distinguish between lust and ambition is going to be useful—but that left me seated for a bit of dialogue that then gives me little reason to stand up again. I stayed seated through until Go hang yourselves all! and then stalked out. That worked for character, but I think made the scene static and dull; Toby and Fabian lacked menace. Well, it’s only the first rough blocking. Things will change.

The duel looks like it will be good. For those unfamiliar with the play, Sir Toby and Fabian bully Andrew and Cesario into dueling. Andrew is a coward, and Cesario is a girl. Hilarity ensues, until Antonio comes in to break it up—the extent to which they actually duel is a production choice. We will have just about the minimum possible sword-clashing, but some very funny bits leading up to it… we may also have some actual fighting when Antonio comes in and lays about him, but that is just a bonus; the important thing about the duel is that it’s funny.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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