LATEST BLOG FROM BILL ALEXANDER ON HIS PRODUCTION OF THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA - BRISTOL OLD VIC THEATRE SCHOOL.
A dog called Blue
We have now been in rehearsal for two weeks. The first week was focused totally on text. We sat in a circle ( the whole company, every day ) and worked slowly through the play. Reading, discussing, reading again. I had broken the action down into 38 "blocks" or mini scenes, that Stage Management refer to on the daily call sheet as "sections".
Gradually the network of characters and interactions began to emerge. A few cuts were made to the text, a few words changed, not because of obscurity but because their meaning has literally reversed in the intervening 400 years between Shakespeare writing and us interpreting. Every "thou", "thee" or "thine" has been changed to "you" or "your". The exceptions are poem and a prayer.
Character has been much discussed and what the term even means. I suggest it is not something hidden that can be discovered and then imitated. It is fluid and resides in the interactions between people, mutating to circumstance.
It's especially relevant to a story of young people discovering the world and creating personalities for themselves. You could say it's what the play's about, after all its central character is called Proteus.
In the second week the circle of chairs was taken away to be replaced by a mark out on the floor to represent the positions and sizes of our two protean shipping contains. After a week glued to a seat it's a relief to move. To add the physical behaviour of the people in the story is such fun and helps us understand their interactions so much. By 4.30 on Friday we had sketched out the choreography of the whole show.
The signpost moments are beginning to fall into place.
On Monday we meet the 14th member of the cast: a dog called Blue who is playing a dog called Crab.
I hope he's off the book!