Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Will!

On Monday, I had the pleasure of spending some time with director, actor, dancer, teacher (is there anything he doesn’t do?) John Farmanesh-Bocca. I met him last week when I saw my talented student Lisa Pettet play Margaret in a piece he directed, Richard III Redux. It’s a fascinating riff on Richard the III, incorporating lots of music and movement, that not only shows us Richard’s diabolical heart, but thankfully, his humor. There are some wonderful performances, Lisa of course, ( she is fab as usual), and Stefan Wolfert as Richard. It’s very interesting and worth checking out and it's produced by a great group, The Veterans Center for the Performing Arts. Click here for info.

At Peets in Venice over iced green-teas (hey, it’s VENICE!), John and I had a vigorous discussion about performing Shakespeare, particularly the importance of paying strict attention to iambic pentameter when approaching the text. We talked for almost two hours and I left feeling inspired and invigorated.

I spent a lot of time in the late eighties studying “The Bard” and my conversation with Farmanesh-Bocca reminded me of why I so loved working on Shakespeare’s plays (and sonnets). For an actor, Shakespeare is the apex, like climbing Mount Everest. The work will hold all you can give it-- all of your heart, all of your imagination, all of your intellect, all of your breath, all of your body, and it can always hold more.

I believe every actor should work on Shakespeare, even if he has no intention of ever performing it. It’s like a batter swinging six bats before stepping up to the plate. Studying Shakespeare will improve all of your acting.

Here is an excerpt from The Mystic in the Theatre, Eleonora Duse by Eva Le Gallienne:

"...she loved to hear the sound of Shakespeare's own words, and would ask me to read it aloud to her. Then she would sit awhile pondering over it in silence. 'The sound reflects the meaning,' she would say; 'blood; drowzy; incarnadine; those words sound like their meaning.' Then, after a moment she added: 'Of course it is Macbeth himself one would want to play. What an extraordinary complex nature! In spite of his maleness--so much woman in him! Ah, Shakespeare! He knew everything!'"

In honor of Shakespeare's birthday (and anniversary of his death), I will end this post with one of my favorite sonnets. Number 55. I love it because it is TRUE! His verse still lives...

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.


RJ said...

Since you are honoring theatrical greats I wanted to honor Ms. Bea Authur who passed away this Saturday at the age of 86. She has touched many people though many generations and will be greatly missed! She now joins Ms. Estelle Getty who recently passed away. Two very talented ladies who are greatly missed!! To both ladies thank you for being a friend! My thoughts and prayers to their family and friends.

Jamie Rose said...

Bea Arthur was awesome. A force of nature.

RJ said...

In honor and memory of Mr. Dom DeLuise. Another great is gone! So many so fast. Thanks Dom for all the laughs! Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends!