On March 31st, I held the first collective meeting of the group of 4 actors that have agreed to partake in my initial Honours Project experiment.
I gave them all a copy of the scene that we will be presenting in Week 14 of Semester 1 this year.
The scene we will be performing is by William Shakespeare, and is from the play: Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5. The scene I’ll be presenting will commence at the moment in the scene where Lady Capulet is calling out for Juliet, after Romeo has fled his place at her window.
For my actors, I gave them a copy of this scene which had the Shakespearean dialogue on the left-hand side, and a rough modern translation of the dialogue on the right-hand side.
The text my actors will be performing, is the Shakespearean text on the left-hand side, but the modern text on the right-hand side is so they can have a greater understanding of what they are speaking about in each new paragraph.
Courtesy of Sparknotes.com (Source: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/romeojuliet/page_186.html)
At the end of this script, I also gave them a summary of Act 3, scene 5 .
(also courtesy of Sparknotes.com – source: http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/romeojuliet/section12.rhtml)
This summary gives great insight into many details of this scene; and as this scene has much foreshadowing of future events in the play, as well as reminiscing about events that have previously unfurled in the play – I thought it would be helpful to have this summary on hand to refer to when developing their characters.
My actors read their parts aloud in their own speaking voices, to begin to gain an understanding of the scene and its importance in the play. This scene is the turning point in which Juliet decides that if she cannot be allowed to marry Romeo, then the only other thing she can do is kill herself. Each of the characters in this scene have dramatic moments that shape how far they have developed or regressed as a person of society.
Through the discussions that we had about the scene, we uncovered that:
Lady Capulet enters and sees Juliet crying. She mistakes Juliet’s crying for the recent death of her cousin Tybalt. Lady Capulet explains to Juliet that she is to be married to County Paris next Thursday. Lady Capulet is tricked by Juliet, into thinking that Juliet has agreed to marry County Paris. However, when Lord Capulet enters and tells Juliet to marry Paris, Juliet declines. Lady Capulet doesn’t agree with the circumstances Lord Capulet has enforced, or the way in which he has enforced them, but she does agree that Juliet should marry Paris, and not Romeo. She storms out of the room after Lord Capulet, having nothing left to say to Juliet, except to do as she is told.
– Whether Lady Capulet agrees with anything that has gone on, is irrelevant. In this era, the wife had to abide by the husband’s will. And so even if Lady Capulet had differing views to her husband, she would have to mask them, or otherwise could be faced with exile or even death, herself.
The Nurse has cared for Juliet since she was a young girl, and thus has become a trusted member of Juliet’s family dynamic. Juliet entreats the Nurse to take her side and help her to refrain from marrying Paris, but the Nurse, like Lady Capulet, has to abide by what the husband of the family desires. The Nurse agrees that Juliet should marry the County Paris and forget about Romeo. The Nurse wants what is best for Juliet, and doesn’t want to see her be banished from the area, like Romeo has been.
Lord Capulet enters and quizzes Juliet about whether she will marry Paris. After she declines he becomes furious. Capulet explains in his rage-induced rant, that he just wants what is best for Juliet. He has worked tirelessly to make sure that she marries a gentleman of noble parentage and that she can have a successful and honourable future ahead of her. Romeo is not such a man, and so if Juliet decides to chose Romeo over the County Paris, then Capulet will exile Juliet from her family. If she finds herself in trouble, he won’t help her. She will be on her own. She will no longer be his daughter, and he will from then on be a parent with no child. His passionate words hit hard and establish Capulet as “the villain” character in this scene.
This scene is an important one for Juliet, as it is the scene in which Juliet matures from a young child into a mature teenager who makes her own decisions. Even though she knows that she will encounter backlash from her father, when Juliet is asked about her marriage, she responds that she will not marry Paris, but Romeo instead. She makes the transformation from being an obedient female into an individual who can decide her own fate. When her father and mother leaves, she asks the Nurse to join her in her cause, but after the Nurse sides with her parents, she takes matters into her own hands.
– While this scene may not be as famous as “the balcony scene” or “the death scene”, it is still an important (and dramatic) scene for Juliet’s character.
Another fact we uncovered was:
– This scene happens early in the morning, as the sun is rising. So it would have been early in the morning.
This point is re-inforced by the line Lady Capulet enters with: “Ho, daughter, are you up?”
Lady Capulet is asking Juliet is she is awake, because she wants to have a word before day breaks. It is just unfortunate thereby, that Capulet also enters and creates the calamity that is this scene, at like 5am in the morning. Not a time in which arguments should be taking place.
Another aspect of my project that we discussed in this first meeting, was the variables that are at play with this experiment.
While this experiment is able to be applied to other states of Australia and to other countries, etc. This particular experiment is going to produce results that reflect where the production is staged, and the actors that take part in it. If this experiment is staged in another location, then the outcome would most certainly vary.
That is however, part of the intrigue and interest in this project.
Some of the variables we discussed were:
– Performing to an audience situated in Tasmania, Australia who have been brought up in that culture.
– Performing to an audience situated in Tasmania, Australia, but there may be audience members who haven’t been brought up in this culture.
– Shakespearean text can be hard to digest for non-theatre goers, and so will this project lend itself only to theatre-goers? And if so, how does that affect the outcome?
– This experiment is only being conducted with 1 scene from a play. Would things change if the whole play was produced and the audience became accustomed to this productions’ individual quirks?
– We’re conducting this experiment with actors from differing backgrounds and skills, and so the outcome could very well be skewed depending on whether there is a vast difference between the skill of the actors, or not.
– How does this experiment differ with Males or females performing the roles? Does the ability to project, or the vocal quality that each sexes have to offer, change the results of this experiment? What would happen if the cast was entirely male/entirely female?
– Sometimes 1 accent can be hard to follow, let alone 3 different accents being performed at the same time. It could prove to be very confusing for the audience and for the actors?
– It’s going to be hard for my actor trying to speak in their own accent, NOT to take on the qualities of the actors speaking in the RP accent – as RP is the typical “shakespeare voice” that is used when performing Shakespeare.
– We only have 7 weeks left. Each week we have 1 rehearsal of 2 hours in length. Will that be enough time to produce a solid result? Or would the result change with more/less time?
– The experiment relies on the actors, like any performance, to know their lines and to perform them as best that they can. If an actor ‘misses-their-mark’ on the day of the experiment, will that alter the results too much?
– Will there even be enough audience members to get quality feedback about this experiment? And will there be audience members who will give honest feedback?
All these questions and more were raised in our meeting. They’re all good questions, that hopefully can begin to be solved and unpacked as we move along in our rehearsal process.
Work has begun on the actors learning their lines, and my next rehearsal will be held this Thursday the 7th April from 4pm – 6pm.
I’m hoping to have finished translating the Shakespearean text into the accents needed for this experiment, by then, so that my actors can learn their texts with their accents in mind. I do NOT want to tack the accents on at the end of the process, because the accents are the main reason for this first experiment even happening. I aim to have the phonetic transcriptions for my actors ASAP so they can incorporate that in their line-learning.
The set/costume will be bare, as not to complicate or distract the audience from the acting that’s taking place. Blocking of the scenes will commence soon.
The actors are still keen to get underway with the whole thing, as am I to start rehearsing this and seeing what comes out of having 3 very different accents on stage at the same time.
That’s all for the moment. Hopefully I’ll have my next post up real soon. Who knows? Maybe it’ll have some imbedded sound files, or video clips? Haha that’ll definitely mix things up a bit. Less text and more visual elements are definitely required for this blog.
Anyway, until next time!
I’ll leave you with the first cast photo that was taken on the 31st March.
Tattletaletony, signing out! 😀
P.S. Here is a picture of my awesome, enthusiastic team! 🙂
(Back: Hannah Bishop – Nurse, Yasmine Barrett – Lady Capulet, Bridget Greene – Juliet, Patrick Klavins – Lord Capulet)
(Front: Me – Antonio Zanchetta – Director/Honours Student)