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Malvolio Production Diary: first run-through

Last night we ran the whole show. I think this was the first time we’ve managed to run the show in its entirety, stopping only at the intermission. Well, I tell a lie, we stopped briefly a couple of times, but really only briefly. And we were allowed to call for lines, for the very last time, so that’s all right.

The show is starting to look and sound good to me. Terrific, in places. The first half is very lively and (as far as I can judge) funny; the second half was a little lower-energy, but that may have been tiredness. Which is a problem, as we will be tired during actual performances; if we need to be consciously boosting energy during the second half, we should start now. On the other hand, it might be only my perception that timing and energy flagged in the second half; after the Yellow Stocking scene, I have only two short scenes and spent the rest sitting in the wings.

Hunh. This is odd—I can’t recall where we put the intermission. That is, I know it’s between the Letter Scene and the Yellow-Stocking Scene, but that just means it’s somewhere in Act Three. Is it after III,ii, which ends with Toby, Fabian and Mariah off to watch the Yellow Stockings? It must be. That means we come back with Antonio and Sebastian in III,iv. It’s possible, though, that we break after III,i, which ends with Viola storming out on Olivia, and Olivia’s optimistic couplet. That seems likely. At any rate, I’ll be safely downstairs in the Green Room for that bit, putting on the cross-garters. Still, it seems like a thing I should remember.

Anyway. The show is coming together. Tech starts on Sunday. This oughtn’t be that difficult a tech, he says braving the revenge of the theater gods. I don’t know anything about the lighting design, which presumably means that it isn’t complicated enough to be worth warning the cast about. I mean, lighting design is always complicated, innit, and I suspect they’ll have fun with the dockside scene, and who knows what they’ll do to differentiate the various settings, but there aren’t (as far as I can tell) special lighting effects. And the sound is mostly a few interstitial bits, and perhaps three or four simple cues (a church bell rings at one point, etc) but no full soundscape. There will be some live music; that will take some coordinating, although probably less than recorded music would. We have been using many of our production props already; we have been miming a few rings and jewels and things, but we have been using the production decanters and cups and flasks and whatnot for a while, now. I haven’t chatted with anyone about The Letter; I really ought to be able to break the seal every night, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Anyway, all that stuff is (or seems like it ought to be) simple.

Which means that after Sundays cue-to-cue, we expect to have four more runs of the show before opening, mostly with full tech. That should be plenty.

And as for Malvolio? I think he’s probably ready. I don’t feel like I’m figuring out what to do anymore. I mean, I’m worried about whether the jokes will land, and I don’t claim that I’ve got the rhythm right throughout—there’s still plenty of improvements to make in that limited time left. But at this point it’s not so much about making choices as about making the choices work. I’ve made the choices, and at the moment I’m feeling pretty good about them. There’s the bit I’ve said a few times recently, that the real creative work happens between the last moment when it’s too early to make real decisions and the first moment when it’s too late to make real changes… we’ve reached that latter moment. And I’m OK with that.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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