Week 3: From Standing to Walking…
This third week was about moving from our Standing phase to our Walking one: completing initial blocking of the play, and began to sketch on some of the scenes in more detail. This week was the opportunity for the actors to bring the choices they have made about their characters into their scenes. We have worked in greater detail the characters’ relationships, especially between the conspirators and Caesar as well as between Brutus and Cassius, without whom the plot against Caesar wouldn’t be carried out.
As part of the work in detail, we worked for the first time on the funeral song. Eleanor House (Casca) is our musical director, and composed the melody for the funeral of Caesar using words from Shakespeare’s “Dirge for Fidele” from Cymbeline. Eleanor has created a very moving and solemn melody to mourn the death of the Dictator.
This week our company is now complete! Simon has begun rehearsals in the evenings with the supernumeraries who are joining the company as plebeians, Senators, and soldiers. They have started rehearsing on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, working on the world of the play, how politics work in our version of modern Italy, what the death of a dictator means in modern times, etc. They began thinking about what the crowd mentality would be especially in a festival, such as the Lupercal in the beginning of the play, the difference between political plebeians, and fun- loving plebeians, and how they shift and change in opinion and energy throughout Brutus’s and Mark Antony’s speeches in Caesar’s funeral.
Mid-week we started working on the battle and suicide scenes. The battle scenes arrived as a treat in the rehearsal room as the actors were given guns and all of them were really excited to play with them! These battle scenes raised the question of making the story clear for the audience in terms of who is fighting for whom and against whom, and the solution was found in costume design. Indeed our fantastic costume designer Eleanor Bull had planned the need for clarity and it is thanks to her costume choices that we can distinguish Octavia and Antony’s national army from Brutus and Cassius’s rebel army.
On Friday, we had our weekly session with Jonathan Waller and worked the battles scenes in greater detailin order to sharpen the story we are telling. The actors began to learn how to work as a squad sweeping and clearing areas, keeping each other safe. We also continued to work on the assassination of Caesarlarifying Brutus’ final choice to betray Caesar for the greater good of Rome, denying his personal feelings for what he believes is the betterment of the Republic.
Written by Jessica McVay
Photograby by Simon Purse