I'm currently rehearsing in a production of " Much Ado About Nothing" with the Roving Park Players. I've never done Shakespeare before and the Friar is not a big role but I struggle with the syntax of middle English. I also notice, despite considerable trimming of the text by the director, that Shakespeare is a long winded playwright.The production has a Beach Blanket Bingo theme with little regard for gender roles. If men played women in Shakespeare's time, then women can play men today. I don't have much to do until the second act then the friar becomes the driver of the plot, countering the evil machinations of Don John with a sly trick of her own to set things right. The rest of the cast is a good mixture of newbie's and skilled professional actors and the pro's ability to absorb and remember huge amounts of this linguistic gibberish has me intimidated. The modern mind does not have the memory of the 17th century folk. I am secretly consoled when a week after going "off book" the pro's still occasionally draw a big fat blank.
The leads are a real life couple who handle the banter between Beatrice and Benedick with relish. There are two other couples involved in the play, As a loner, I look on them with a touch of envy.
I have to learn to project my voice, not a an easy thing with the absorption power of nature. We rehearsed in a park by the river which was no fun in the recent rain though everyone else took it in stride. The show becomes Shakespeare in the Dark as we never make it through the whole thing because of the failing light at sunset.
As I watch the show shape itself into a fine production I pick up on little jewels of phrases or stage business that I so love to notice. " Your wit ambles well, it goes easily" Benedick remarks tersely to the clueless Claudio. Dogberry is a riot of malaprops and bombast. In one scene, Beatrice overhears Hero and Ursula talk about how much Benedick loves her while she eavesdrops- badly- on the conversation. Her attempt to get closer to the ladies under cover is about as subtle as a great dane trying to sneak into a room by crawling on it's stomach. " For it so falls out that we prize not to the worth whilest we enjoy it" is a line I deliver with true meaning.
Normally I'm not nervous about being on stage but a week before we open, I still anxiously pace back stage.