The Show Draws Ever Closer

The show draws ever closer.  Rehearsals have ceased to be snippets of small moments in the script and have evolved into full run-throughs of the show.  This is both exciting and nerve-wracking.  Not only does it require that the actors remember the entire sequence of the play, but it also means that now the entire cast will be watching each other’s scenes, ones we haven’t been privy to thus far. For instance, I am on stage with Sean Cox, the actor playing Mercutio and also our other fearless co-director, exactly twice in the entire play and neither time, for various reasons, do we exchange a single word.  Therefore, I had never really rehearsed with Sean and, before we started running the show, had yet to witness his banter with Benvolio, his taunting of Tybalt, his ridicule of Romeo.

But these days, I see it all and everyone sees me.  Even though we are all professionals in a safe, creative space, I can’t help feeling as though we are performing for each other a little bit, that each time we get on stage, we are holding the work we have been doing these past few weeks away from the entire cast up for critique.  While I’m sure this has no effect on Sean and his aforementioned fearlessness, for the rest of us…well, let’s just say it can be a vulnerable time for an actor.  Gosh, I think.  If only we had a really good distraction.  Maybe some, I don’t know, youthful banter kicking around the theatre to keep our minds off of the perfectionist tendencies that can be so preoccupying… Oh, wait.  We do.  Thank God for the interns.

Intrepid Shakespeare has done a really cool thing.  As part of their contract with San Dieguito Academy, whose theatre has become their new home, Sean and Christy have offered intern positions to the students who attend high school here.  This means that these students have the chance to come in and work with award-winning designers, learn about stage managing, help with set building, and yes, even act in a scene or two of the play.  Last week, we finally got to meet them.

As they were filing into the theatre for orientation, Durwood, who plays our Prince, just shook his head.  “No one gave me the chance to do Shakespeare when I was a teenager,” he said.  “These kids are so lucky.”  I nodded in agreement, although the fact is that someone did give me the chance to do Shakespeare when I was a teenager.  Mrs. Bennett, my eighth grade teacher at Blessed Sacrament Parish School, directed an evening of the Bard each year and cast every single student in a scene.  There I was, at 13, playing one of the best characters ever written, before most kids even knew who Shakespeare was.  I remember that experience, and I have no doubt as to why I find myself in this particular play today.

Durwood and I scan the sign up sheet on which the students have listed their first and second internship position choices.  Most wrote down an interest in acting or some sort of design option as well as an alternative choice if their first was taken.  Halfway down the list, though, we can’t help but marvel at one student who has brazenly scrawled “Significant Acting Role” by his name and left the space for a second choice completely blank.  We chuckle over that, although I think that we are secretly envious of the confidence and courage that this student has apparently cultivated at the tender age of 16.

As the week goes on, our interns are integrated into the show.  I walk in one day as three of the students are about to start a fight call.  Dakota, Zander, and Ben are playing Sampson, Gregory, and Balthazar and the three of them carry the first few moments of the play all by themselves.  I can’t help teasing them about this fact.  “You know, the beginning of the play is all you,” I say to them very seriously as I pour a cup of coffee.  “I mean, you guys are pretty much responsible for how the entire show goes each night.”  They just look at me for a moment, as if they can’t decide if I am being serious, and then they quickly break into their macho teenager grins.  “No problem,” Zander says.  “Gotta start the play with the best, right?” I seriously heart them all.

I have now seen all 15 of them take on their respective responsibilities of assistant stage manager, design intern, actor, or tech crew and I marvel both at their tenacity to get things right as well as at their remarkably mature awareness that things will probably not be perfect the first time.  I watch them work and crack jokes with the cast and talk about the dance they will be missing because it is scheduled on the same night as our first preview. The way everyone smiles when they are around, I wonder if it is actually the interns who are doing most of the learning here.

Tiffany Tang (Lady Capulet)