A Report From Rehearsal: Exploring the Physicality of the Characters

(This post is by Cathy Campo, BMC class of 2019.)

We started today’s rehearsal with a check-in in iambic pentameter. For example, mine was “I miss snow. Come back, please. I want to play.” Next, Alexandra led us in a short but wonderful yoga session (pictured).

Lear YogaWe did a few rounds of the ‘chair game’ we learned from the NIE Theatre’s workshop (pictured), further working on our strategy and making sure that not more than one person was going for the same chair at a time. Mark then joined us, offering his check-in about his brain exploding from thinking in iambic pentameter, and then discussing the physicality of our God’s spies. “Where does your God spy live in your body?” He asked. “Be in an engaged body that is not the same as your walking-on-campus body.” He advised us to have a physical adjustment when transforming into our spy and told us to be really alive in our senses throughout the entirety of the play, which is something we’ve been working on a lot through exercises such as “ice walking” and “pranayama.”

Following this, we moved on to our scrap metal game from February 8th. We each made our way onto the large tabletop one at a time. We embraced our power, moving to the best place to scan the playing field. Then we placed our respective metal pieces in the most perfect position. Finally, we moved off the table and to any open chair beside the one we had started in. Our final masterpiece of metal objects is pictured.

Masterpiece of metal objects Lear exerciseMost interesting to me in this exercise was the moment in which the person made her choice of where to place her object. We really took the time to be in our bodies, taking about 15 or so seconds to think of where to place our metal pieces. Something to consider is that our characters in Lear who make much bigger decisions presumably take a lot more time. The game also caused an interesting juxtaposition from the powerful feeling I had in deciding it was my turn to go and the vulnerability I felt at first of not knowing where to place my metal piece.

Finally, we moved onto some movement improv (which was pretty cool for me because I’m actually in a movement improv class right now). “Use the music as a soundtrack to the soul of your spy/character,” advised Mark. We explored questions like, how does our character (both our spy and Lear character(s)) stand? How do they sit? How do they tie their shoes, move around the perimeter of the room, etc.? Together, we interacted and used the space to discover many things about our characters.


A Report From Rehearsal: Building the Characters

(This post is by Bridget St. John, BMC class of 2017.)

Around the giant table
Around the giant table. Photo Credit To Bridget St. John.

The initial check-ins included words like mess, scattered, wasted (meant to be rested), early, nervous, angry, late, hopeless, distraught, sad, tense, anxious, and Coke tea. We were able to push through this energy and accomplish a lot today!

Beginning with a reflection, we continued to expand the God’s spy character toolbox. Where has your character been? What has she seen?
Moving upstairs, we started to play with the shift between the world of Lear and the God’s spies. What are the ways in which your spy informs your Lear character? People began to make very interesting choices by switching seats, calling others over to them, and deciding to stand (on the table or just from their seat). Each shift, glance, head turn, and other minor movements become magnified at the table. Alliances become clear, and I personally really started to feel the tension of this first scene.

A Report From Rehearsal: Exploring the Play as God’s Spies

(This post is by Adriana Nocco, BMC class of 2016.)

We started our meeting with a check-in (in which Mark coined the word “frumple-jumpled”) and a discussion about the gear we will need to outfit ourselves for our Iceland trip. I can’t believe it’s only two weeks away!

Next, we laid down flat on our backs and conducted a meditation exercise in order to get in touch with our God’s spy character identities (exploring/observing landscapes, situations, etc. in our minds as God’s spies). Mark guided us as we explored the super privileged worldviews of our God’s spy characters, and at one point, read King Lear’s “God’s spies” speech to us as we meditated for inspiration.

Lastly, we relocated to the Teaching Theater to work at our table, a.k.a. the place where God’s spies meet once a year to discuss our observations and perform. We were assigned specific seats at the table for the first time, and got to work with microphones as well (handheld, mostly on  stands). We worked on transitioning between our God’s spy characters and our Lear characters (“leaning into” the different types of characters at specific moments of our choosing), and also worked on building telepathic connections. In order to expand our God’s spy toolbox, we played with eye contact and movement, played the “chair game” out in the Atrium at one point, and did our best to remain open and focused.

I have provided a picture I took from the point of view of my chair at the table, and a picture of the text from Lear interspersed with “God’s spy prayers” (formed from Lear dialogue). We explored and worked with saying these prayers in the first sphere as Lear and Kent argue during the first scene of the play.

Adriana's God Spy photo

Adriana's text photo

A Report from Rehearsal: Approaching the Text With a Variety of Ideas

(This post is by Cathy Campo, BMC class of 2019)

Today’s scene work was broken up into six separate hour-long parts with different cast members. For the first two hours, Miciah, Roz, Catharine, and Cathy worked on pages 5-8 (in which Lear divides up the kingdom, Goneril and Regan pronounce their love, and Cordelia announces she has “nothing” to say). We played around with given circumstances and even set the scene in a nursing home, which added a gentle intimacy to the tone and made Cordelia extremely unsympathetic. We worked on creating very pregnant pauses through Cordelia and Lear’s “nothing”s and discussed how Goneril is an haute-couture wearing gal who knows how to get what she wants. Further, we touched upon the beginnings of assigning actions, such as adding “to caress Lear” and “to honey Lear,” to Goneril’s love-professing monologue.

Mark and Maya in rehearsal Feb 14
Mark and assistant director, Maya, overlook the scene from a position in front of a map of Iceland. Photo credit to Cathy Campo.
Roz Miciah Catharine Sam in rehearsal
A dramatic snapshot of a dramatic scene. Photo credit to Cathy Campo.

For the next hour, we worked on pages 26-30 in which the Fool and Lear banter and Goneril reprimands Lear for not taming his “insolent retinue” (28). Roz sang some of her lines to “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and Catharine and Mark scored professor points for being clever. All around, productive and fun time. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks!

A Report from Rehearsal: The Giant Table

(This post is by Kristin Kury, BMC class of 2016)

Today in rehearsal we had our first taste of playing in the space–a luxury to have so early in the rehearsal process.

We are seated around what is probably the largest dinner table any of us have ever eaten at. It is grand, it is epic, it is intimidating. Every shift, glance, seat choice (or assignment) feels like it could be a political move. Be careful which dinner fork you use….

First time around the table
First time around a mock-up of the giant table-stage. Photo credit to Kristin Kury.

We played around with the scale of this table, noting the effects of what happens when one, two, or many bodies stand on top of the table itself (hint: it becomes a lot like a stage!). We created tableaus by placing our bodies (or pieces of metal) into the space, one person at a time. How can you best build an image off of what someone else laid out before you? How does story begin to form itself? What happens when someone breaks the rules?