Midshizzle – initial explorations

13 Aug

(The photos in this post were all taken in rehearsal by Benjamin Prindable.)

All of a sudden, after a valiant start, it’s been months since I last blogged. Last week I realised that the point where I stopped posting coincided exactly with when I started directing the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble‘s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It seems that particular project needed the bulk of my creative attention for a while, especially as I have also been working the Ensemble’s 2013 Shakespeare Prison Project which will produce The Comedy of Errors in South Queensland Correctional Centre in September.

So I thought I should do the thing with the two birds and the stone, and blog about the process of directing Midsummer, and perhaps in a separate post about the Prison Project too. One thing at a time.

Our exploration of Midsummer, or Midshizzle as we affectionately know it, began with the Ensemble plying me with beer and convincing me to direct the play. They made some good points, we had an ideal cast within the ranks of the Ensemble – the production features all of the core members of the ensemble and most of this year’s apprentices, with the addition of beloved local actor Louise Brehmer in her third QSE production. Each actor has made their roles very much their own.

Benjamin Prindable Photography-129

However, I had resisted directing this play for some years. I’ve seen many, probably too many, productions, and I have been involved in one. There were too many things that I’d never quite ‘got’ on a visceral level in any production, even ones which I greatly enjoyed. The Mechanicals of course are gold, with their simultaneous mockery of theatre, and exaltation of the human spirit, the celebration of our need to be seen and heard, of triumph over obstacles. And yet, we can’t deny the playwright’s somewhat smug put-down of amateur companies. From 2006-2008, QSE performed the mechanicals scenes as a four-person stand-alone play, part of our Shakespeare’s Shorts suite.

Benjamin Prindable Photography-39

But as to the rest of it? The fairy world in production always seemed to struggle – too influenced I think by 19th century ideas of “fairy” with a touch of Disney fairy, delicate ethereal winged things, that always left me a little cold. OR bits of bark and leaf stuck all over them that never quite worked (for me). And I could never find any empathy with the lovers, or the entire human world. The first long scene in the Athenian court always felt a like we were waiting for the real play to begin. And despite the obvious interferences of the fairies in human affairs, the two worlds did not seem connected at a deeper, existential level. Such moves as casting the same actors as the respective patriarch and matriarch of both the human and fairy worlds (which out production also does), or elements of visual resonance, definitely state that there is a connection, but I’d never seen any exploration of what that connection actually is.

That was my starting point. The keys, as always (?) with Shakespeare’s plays, were in the text all along. In a day or two I will post about our explorations of the connection between the two worlds, and the gold we mined from the text.

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4 Responses to “Midshizzle – initial explorations”

  1. Alex Clarke August 13, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    As usual, fascinating. Looking forward to reading the follow up, can’t wait for the performance!

  2. Louise Brehmer August 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Well I for one am certainly glad you decided to direct this play… and gave me the chance to play one of the most fun roles of my career to date 🙂 Thanks Rob. I look forward to reading the next installment!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Midshizzle – the faerie connection | The Fifth Columnist - August 15, 2013

    […] This follows on from my last post – Midshizzle – initial explorations […]

  2. Midshizzle – the visual aesthetic | The Fifth Columnist - August 28, 2013

    […] maximum effect, read the first three posts, here, here, and here. Otherwise you are of course welcome to just enjoy the pretty pictures (by Benjamin […]

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