Tag Archives: acting

#215: The Actor “Decides” the Last Scene is Four Lines Too Long and Does Some Spontaneous Editing On Stage

R&J Cast

Moving through the last show of the run,
it was hard to contain my happiness.
Through the first four acts I felt downright
giddy. It was difficult to suppress the smiles
and there was a kind of laughter inside,
too flattering sweet to be substantial.
I was happy the run was near an end but
simultaneously I felt a deep gratitude
for this great gift of an experience.
And I was having a great show,
my best performance to date, I thought.
But, lo, behold, in the last scene when
the Capulets and the Montagues all
descend on the crypt where the bodies
of Paris, Romeo, and Juliet lie, I knelt
down by my dead daughter, and then,
taking in the carnage and picking up
a cue, I was to deliver my penultimate
speech in the play:
“O heavens, O wife, look how our daughter bleeds.
This dagger hath mista’en, for lo, his house
is empty on the back of Montague and
is mis-sheathed in my daughter’s bosom.”
But, lo, alack the day, I was silent.
No words came from my mouth,
nor was I even aware that words
should be coming from my mouth.
I was aware, though, of a strange silence
on stage. I looked up at the actor playing
the Prince, and I thought, dude, say your
flipping line! But then my wife, dear
Lady Capulet, delivered the lines that
come immediately after mine and in that
moment I knew. So it was especially
difficult then, in the last 10 minutes of
the show, to stay out of  my head and
connected to the scene. Consequently,
after having had the best show thus far,
it ended for me in the worst way possible.
I know that’s not really true.
I know it could have been worse, and
that this Actor nightmare is nowhere
close to being the scariest.
The great boon, here, though, I realize,
is that very few people were aware of it.
A few cast members, perhaps, and not
a single audience member. Even if there
were people out there who knew the play
well enough to track the missing four lines,
they might have just chalked it up to a cut that
had been made pre-production, on purpose,
like. Nevertheless, the audience response
to the last show was overwhelmingly positive,
and afterwards, most of us found our way
to a cast party where the kids behaved
like happy puppies, the adults sipped
wine in the kitchen, and the Italian food
to celebrate the Bard’s birthday was abundant.

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#199: A Poem from Director’s Notes

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A Poem from Director’s Notes

(for Michael Mendelson)

Move the language forward.
Move the language,
lift the language.
To whom are you talking?
There are only three possibilities:
the earth,
the gods,
or another human being.
If it happens to be a human being,
ask yourself: how do I feel about the
person I am with?
Breathe.
Volume and diction: if you can’t
hear your voice bouncing off
the back wall, you’re not
loud enough.
Make an investment:
know where you are going
and from where you are coming.
In Act III, scene i, how do you feel
about the heat? Whatever is going
on for you, let that be amplified.
Don’t let your mouth get ahead
of your mind. Make sure your brain,
your body, and your mouth are working
together. Use the words to create
emotion and not the other way around.
Exit more like cheetahs
and less like rhinos.
Juliet, I want you to stab yourself
three times. Romeo, Romeo–
(there is no response) are you asleep?
Finally, don’t play the end
before the end.  This is a corrupt
world and everyone here
is a survivor.

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#195: Curtains

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I hold her body in my arms,
dead and not dead,
my child and not my child.
I am Lord Capulet
and Kate is Juliet. In life
we are virtual strangers,
but on stage, I hold her in my arms
and under the hot stage lights
I weep for her death, or close to it.
I don’t know what killed her;
I don’t even ask. I simply speak
of her settled blood and her
stiffened joints and the ice
of her skin. And even while
I speak, I talk of not being able
to speak. Death has tied up my
tongue. I don’t know she’s not
really dead but only sleeping;
I am, as they say, in the dark.
And I remain there, in darkness, until
the end of Act V, when my child
who is not my child dies a second time,
this time for real.
I lose this stranger-daughter twice
every night, and every night
when I walk off stage for the last
time I have to work really hard
not to lose it, to remind myself
that I am in a play, that this young
girl is not really my daughter,
and that when the lights come back up,
we will experience together the final
curtain call–and that’s not a metaphor.

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