Last week was our final week of regular rehearsals. Tonight, our entire ensemble of 20 actors will tread the boards at Chicago Shakes for a dress/tech rehearsal. We are excited to put both groups together and share what we've been working on all semester, and to see our big group numbers - Sweet Viola and Hey Ho - come to life with the full ensemble. And we're excited to share all this work with YOU Saturday May 28th at 11am at our performance of Twelfth Night for Shakespeare 400 Chicago. (There are still a few tickets left - click here to be redirected to Chicago Shakespeare Theater's box office.)
Read on to find our how we spent our last week of classes, and see all the preparations going in to the big day!
Monday Recap (by Sean Okerberg)
Just a few days until the show and there couldn’t be more excitement! This was our last rehearsal at Menomonee Club before we will be at Chicago Shakes for our dress rehearsal with the entire cast. Dance Party started our evening, our last song being Greased Lightning (always a crowd pleaser). Katie got us all warmed up as we moved up the physical and vocal scale from “Zooooom” at the knees to “Rree” through the top of the head.
Our check in question this week was, “What is your favorite way to past time backstage?” Lucy likes to think about her character, Andrew likes to draw and Hannah likes to listen to the show. To build ensemble focus we moved on to one of my favorite games - Elephant. In the game someone in the middle will point to an individual and they must as quickly as they can become the trunk of the elephant. Those on either side must jump in and make the ears. Ben showed us just how big elephant ears can get and Emily was quick on the draw.
Before moving on to blocking we did a quick review of Sweet Viola. I know the audience is really going to enjoy this musical introduction to the show and the story. It was then time to block our last few scenes. Ben and Hannah had a witty tête-à-tête as Cesario and Feste. Lucy then entered with authority as Olivia and was undone with love for poor sweet Viola. Act III scene 4 started with Colleen waiting patiently for her normally stern servant Malvolio. Andrew entered and shocked Colleen with his wild manner. He really relished his yellow stockings! The scene ended with him being removed from Colleen’s sight. Act IV begins is a very technically difficult scene, and gave us a chance to practice some stage combat skills. We start with Sam as Sebastian being tormented by Emily as Feste which leads to the entrance of Fletcher and Rachel as Sir Andrew and Sir Toby, ready to fight. Sebastian not one to back down obliges. A furious Claire as Olivia swoops in, breaks up the fight, and convinces Sam to marry her, all in one scene. Our final scene of the day was Act V scene 1, the grand finale. All of the actors were on their feet for this one. All I’m going to say here is marriages galore and Ben as a much abused Malvolio.
With all this work done there was just enough time to run through Hey Ho and have Claire lead I Take from the Heavens. We are ready and very excited to be on the stage next week!
Friday Recap (by Sean Okerberg)
Tonight’s focus was to run through all of the Friday ensemble’s scenes in order with costumes like a performance. With the props, costumes, and actor’s chairs all set up we invited the performers into the rehearsal space with a rocking dance party. Once dancing was done Susan ran us through some warm-ups. She went around the circle and asked us to pick a body part and create a sound for it. Natalia gave us creaky elbows Emily gave us squinky fingers.
With our voices and bodies warm Peter took us through the schedule and the check in question: “What word describes you? Make a pose for that word.” It was fun to discover how we see ourselves. Natalia made a muscle and declared that she was brave, I couldn’t agree more. Alena deemed herself sassy Beyonce. And Emily is funny.
From check in we quickly moved onto the work of the evening, our run through of our scenes. All the actors took places as Peter and Katie set the scene. We then started the show. First up was Sweet Viola. Peter sang the song and the cast hit their character poses. Moving from one character to the next seemed effortless; the cast knows their play well. Everyone then returned to the backstage area, everyone that is except for Lucas and Katie. Lucas sat lovelorn in the middle of the stage and performed Orsino’s opening monologue like a seasoned pro. From the Duke’s court we move onto rough weather on the sea as Quincy, Mila and Alena (Sebastian, Viola, and the Sea Captain) are tossed about. Sebastian and Viola are split apart and the Sea Captain helps Viola disguise herself as Cesario. We moved further into the play as we explored Olivia’s estate. Jack was the stiff Malvolio and then passed the vest on to Sam F. who discovered the letter that Natalia as Maria left for him. Sam P. then egged Emily as Sir Andrew and Natalia as Viola into fighting. Luckily Melissa as Antonio swooped in to break up the fight. The final scene found Sam F preparing to marry Alena as Olivia and Emily as Sebastian. From there we had one more song to perform, with a Hey and a Ho.
Our cast reflected on the night’s rehearsal with some journal work and it was time to close with I Take. It was a very positive first run through and we are ready to meet up with Monday’s class next week to run the entire show at Chicago Shakes!
We hope to see you at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Saturday, and definitely check out next week's blog, where you'll get to join our ensemble backstage and find out all about the dress rehearsal and the big show!
Remember, our next project, The Spy Who Knew Me, will start filming in August. You can support our ensemble with a tax deductible donation to our Hatchfund campaign: click here to learn more.