A Report from Rehearsal: Costumes for Iceland, Whittling, and Villainy

(This post is by Amelia Couderc, BMC class of 2016.)

Today’s rehearsal was split into 3 sections: the scene of page 52, Gloucester and Edgar, and solo six picture work (the same exercise we did with the Stanton kids, but for our Lear characters). The wonderful Maiko, our designer extraordinaire, was also present. She fitted us with coats and boots to bring to Iceland (t-minus two days!).

I was on my own today, working on my lines and the inner life of my character (Edmund). I ended up spending a lot of time learning how to whittle a stick and contemplating what it meant to be “the villain.” It turns out that whittling is very time consuming when done with a blade from scissors, and villainy is relative. Good work.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that some of us received iPads from the Bryn Mawr Library to assist us in our blogging abroad. Thank you, Library! We promise to keep them in their dorky cases.

Below are some pictures I grabbed as I watched today’s rehearsal go by.

Lear rehearal 329 1

Lear rehearsal 329 2

Lear rehearsal 329 3
Scene work with Gloucester and Edgar.
Lear rehearsal 329 4
Maiko fitting people for costume pieces to take to Iceland.

A Report from Rehearsal: God’s Spies and Illuminations

(This post is by Amelia Couderc, BMC class of 2016.)

Today in rehearsal we “opened a can of worms.”

In our work with Stanton, we’ve experimented with different ways of telling the story of King Lear in our own words. Making sense of Shakespeare and Lear can be somewhat daunting and condensing or synthesizing all of the events/characters/themes of the play is a difficult task. So we played with how to tell the story as if we were addressing a class of kindergartners. In telling the story this way, we developed ways to enhance and make sense of each act with our Stanton groups. I worked with Cathy and Sam. The exercise really helped me understand elements of the plot that had been fuzzy before. And, for me, it pulled King Lear out of an antiquated and stuffy academic place into one that was more whimsical and clear.

In rehearsal today, we used this model of telling the story of King Lear in our own words, act by act, but changed the given circumstances. What if we were telling the story of Lear to each other? What if we were all God’s spies meeting on the bank of the river Seine at night, gathered around the campfire to tell the French existentialist version of Lear? And thus the can of worms was opened….

Our ensemble accesses the world of King Lear through the body and mind of the God’s spy. God’s spies are the observers of the world; they are the spies of God. They see the world very clearly from a cosmic perspective. God’s spies are humans who live normal lives (my God’s spy character likes to hike where moss grows), but they gather every so often to tell the story of King Lear. Once we sit at the table, our “stage,” and begin our retelling/re-sharing, the God’s spies can access any character they choose to. But once a person stands for a character, it is theirs. The God’s spies can echo or reinforce a character that is already “stood for,” but they can’t stand for them. Once I (as a God’s spy) stand for Edmund, I am Edmund (but still a God’s spy). This allows for us to step in and out of our “Lear character” as we see fit.

I like to think of my God’s spy character as a conduit for story–for the play.

As God’s spies we gathered today to the tell the existentialist Lear.
However, as the retelling was taking place, we were given the prompt by our directors of creating “illuminations.” These illuminations were moments in which we could step in to the story as it was told and share a piece of our Lear character. The illuminations could manifest in many different ways, external or internal. Here are just some of the external illuminations I witnessed during our retelling today:

Cordelia passing a pillow to Lear. Lear accepting.
Lear standing on a bench out in the rain
Gloucester sorting through newspapers
Edgar blowing on glass bottles in the fireplace
Cornwall firmly stomping boots

The aftermath of creating illuminations
The aftermath of creating illuminations: The ensemble reflects.

As all of the illuminations took place alongside the retelling, the thread of story never faltered. The stable through-line of our existentialist King Lear allowed for the illuminations to wander off into unknown territories.

I left the experience feeling like our gathering generated a beautiful series of attempts, choices, and studies in character and presence.

A Report From Rehearsal: The Chair Game

(This post is by Amelia Couderc, BMC class of 2016.)

While participating in a workshop with the New International Encounter  theater company at the beginning of the semester, we learned this high energy strategic chair swapping game. From what I remember, the Bryn Mawr students didn’t really catch on to the game in the workshop.
(Well, at least I didn’t catch on.)

Since the workshop, we have taken the game back to Bryn Mawr and worked on our chair swapping skills. I stepped out during rehearsal today to catch a minute or so of the game

(Amy adds: Stay tuned for the fun video Amelia took! I’ll post it below–as soon as I figure out how to get it to work with the blog.)

Here are the basic rules:

One person stands on the perimeter of the chair field, preferably a good distance away from an empty chair in the field. Their goal is to make it to the empty chair moving at a steady pace. The players in the chair field swap chairs so that the person who is “it” doesn’t make it to a chair. Once you stand or lean forward, you can’t sit back down. The game technically has no end, but we usually stop after five-10 minutes.

In order to succeed, you have to let yourself be present and open to perceive the entire space, make snap decisions, take risks, employ ruthless strategy, and control your body.

It’s one of the many games we play to warm ourselves up and get into the mindset of our Lear world.