Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two Households, Equal Dignity, and Lots of Hairpins

"Romeo and Juliet," if you can believe it, has a very different pre-show feel and routine. The cast arrives around 5:30 to get into costume, do make-up and hair, and warm up. Because it's a period piece--and an intricate period (Edwardian), at that--a lot of effort goes into the look of the actors. All of the men are in three-piece suits, sporting meticulously parted-and-gelled hair, but fortunately, due to the proximity of the audience and the heat of the outdoors, do not have to wear make-up. Women are in high-necked, long-sleeved dresses or blouses, with heavy, layered skirts. Street make-up was the choice for this show again because of proximity and heat. But the hair--some spend time doing it at home, others twist and pull their hair in the dressing room, and some take it to (forgive the pun) higher levels.

Catherine Arnold's inspiring Gibson Girl hair-do.

Once everyone is dressed and ready, actors head over to Benedict for fight call. However, due to varying times of "dressed and ready," actors are forced to warm up and prepare on their own, either while they're getting ready or sometimes, on the walk over. There is no group warm up, no quiet time, and very little space for personal preparation. Never once, until intermission, is the entire cast together. 

Fight call is run around 6:00 at Benedict, and by then, audience members are already arriving. This adds just another layer to the actors' responsibilities, because even fight call--a time for warming up, reviewing the fight, and in general, getting into the mood of the play--has an audience. On top of that, fight call has the actors already sweating and wheezing; as if sitting in the heat in layers of costume weren't bad enough, everyone gets physically riled up before they have to sit in the heat! Once all of the fights are run, the cast disperses, some heading inside to enjoy the air conditioning briefly before full exposure to the heat, some lounging on the blankets outside, and some greeting the audience at various "entranceways." Because there is no backstage, Geoff decided to have us embrace the lack of a fourth wall right off the bat by placing rotating cast members at these entranceways. There, cast members greet and welcome the arriving audience or, in some cases, inform bemused passersby of the three hours traffic of our stage.

Kirin McCrory
Endstation Blogger

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