The Dell

10 actors, 32 - no, 35 Shakespearean Sonnets! How?

July 10, 2014

Sonnet rehearsalSo, if each sonnet takes approximately one minute to speak out loud, and we have 10 actors and need a piece that's just under an hour, and we need time for transitions and maybe some physical work, and maybe a couple of group sonnets - that's about three per actor. Give or take a few.

1. Is this going to have a narrative, a storyline - or is it going to be a sort of sonnet concert.
2. Which sonnets out of Shakespeare's 154 are we going to use?
3. What is this thing going to look like?

These are actors I am working with. Actors like to tell a story; they like relationships and situations to hang their words onto. This will also help to ground the piece. And a narrative will hopefully keep the audience tuned in to the words. So a storyline with a sense of movement and strong relationships needs to be developed.

After selecting the sonnets, I cut them out and spread them on the table, switching the order around again and again until a narrative appears and it seems to work. But I'm sure things will change again as we begin to work on the piece.

There will be no dialogue other than the sonnets. How could anything other than Shakespeare's words stand alongside them? This piece then is going to have to be slightly impressionistic - or abstract. Abstract impressionism, I guess! The delicate, formal framework of language is going to be tricky to marry with the physicality. We're going to have to work hard to find the style that works.

There is a danger that the whole piece will float away in some airy, wispy, poetic cloud. We need to root it firmly in the hearts, blood, and tears of these people. But first we have to understand what it is we're saying.

by Gail Sawyer  |  No comments yet


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