Due to personal reasons, I have been away from blogging for most of my fellowship experience. At some point going forward, I will recount my experiences with Shakespeare and Company, assistant directing Mother Courage, and the early days of the Fall Festival of Shakespeare. For the moment I will begin with where I am.
I enter into tech week tomorrow, as a co-director for the Fall Festival of Shakespeare at Chatham High School. We chose Romeo and Juliet, not the easiest by any stretch of the imagination. Shakespeare and Company works in a way that I have never experienced. The play is chosen based on the students, so we didn’t make our decision until after auditions. The play is fitted to the students, instead of the other way around. This presents a different set of challenges, but the benefits cannot be denied.
It is a re-building year at Chatham, so many of our company have never done Shakespeare or even stepped on stage. Their passion for the work, however, is incomparable. They are nicknamed ‘The Care Bears’ due to their genuine compassion and honesty. They have their stresses and problems, but I have never met a group of more well-adjusted teenagers, and their love of Shakespeare is unlike anything I have ever seen.
With constant meetings, prep, administration, and decisions to be made, the best part of my day is always rehearsal. No matter what we throw at them, they always come back for more. And we throw a lot. I routinely get chills from their work. Sometimes I think that they don’t even know enough about theatre to understand what they are giving, but I am wrong. They want to give, they are simply learning about their giving tools. Green would be an understatement to describe them, and having one of the largest festival audition turnouts ever created an uphill battle. Part of the Festival aesthetic is that we don’t turn any students away who want to be a part. Managing over a hundred high school students is quite the daunting task, twice the number of the largest high school sports team. At the end of the day, this experience has been well worth the challenge.
I wish I could say that I had no worries for our school performance on Friday, but I am a director, and the nature of theatre always suggests a bit of last minute excitement. What I can be sure of is that they have already had an experience, which is what Festival is all about.
“That deep torture may be called a hell, When more is felt than one hath power to tell.” Rape of Lucrece
2013 Drama League Classical Directing Fellow
Director, Romeo and Juliet, Chatham High School
Shakespeare and Company Fall Festival of Shakespeare