Excerpts from My Summer Journal

What the title said 🙂

First day of work, finally. Seattle Storefronts still hasn’t assigned YSW space so we are having our first rehearsal in Lincoln Park, West Seattle, about an hour from where I am staying on Capitol Hill. I took about three hours to get here, because I took about three wrong buses and ended up getting a lift from a nice man named Michael who happened to know the program. I have to send him an email to tell him when we open.

When I finally arrive, the group is scattered about a shaded meadow in twos and threes, reading aloud from giant Complete Works. I recognize the Arden text that Darren uses for the First Year group. These are mostly Second or Third year students, mulling over the old English in the grass with their scene partners. I meet Meme, an enthusiastic looking college freshman with curly hair and sunglasses and the other intern.

I notice that Darren is a little disorganized, but he waves it off before I say anything, explaining: it helps the kids with a sense of responsibility; they know if they don’t get it done, nobody will… it’s a collective thing to get the work done. He leans back into the duo he is listening to, “be flexible and don’t get married to one particular reading”, “feel the burn before you react”, “make sure to react”. The familiar language diminishes my disorientation. I settle into the ground, open up my paperback copy of Much Ado, and listen.


It comforts me so much to know that he has done this a million times and still has no idea what’s going on.


We have a venue of sorts now. Cornish College of the Arts. It seems very much like what I am dreaming of, and when I walked in for the first time (this sounds ridiculous but it did happen) my heart skipped a beat. My heart literally skipped a beat. All arts and no liberal. Places like this survive, even in corners of the American Northwest. I am not completely crazy.


The middle bit drags. I have now watched Beatrice and Benedick more times than I care to count and as I slowly and unwillingly memorize their lines as they dialogue in loops, I realize how much this is annoying me. And that I wouldn’t mind doing it every day for the rest of my life.


It is three weeks until Much Ado opens in Volunteer Park. We have not yet done a full run, although one was scheduled for today, due to the fact that people are still in school, having finals and graduating. Some of the kids are off-book but many of them still have scripts in-hand and everyone once in a short while calls out, “line!” Meme, the other intern, missed the 9.40 ferry from Vashon and so I am left here, sitting on the steps just inside the Lenora Street entrance as Darren explains what needs to be caught up and done in preparation for First Year. Next week, he is going on a camping trip with his daughter, leaving Meme and myself in charge of rehearsals. Try to work small, he says. I totally agree.

The first scene up is the pre-wedding scene with Hero, Beatrice, Margaret and Ursula.  “We’re still inventing,” is what Darren says to questions about blocking. This Hero hasn’t worked the scene before. They play around with different configurations of chairs. Darren has dragged in about six wooden chairs with a very odd folding mechanism, which he says was patented pre-1900. They eventually settle in a perpendicular line, and a wooden coat hanger is added to the ensemble.

I read in Benedick for the wedding scene. It is the first time so many cast members have read through a scene, and it goes smoother than expected, with Meme and myself jumping in as Leonato and Benedick. We skip the Beatrice and Benedick bit, having practiced it to death during the week, and after wards I am left to direct Don John and Borachio, who has been cast as a girl.

I suddenly became very comfortable, maybe it’s the first one-on-one I’ve had, maybe because it’s a girl and a pretty girly guy, maybe because they are actually listening to me, but I slipped on my director’s shoes. I grabbed a chair, remembering what Amy had told the Greencastle team about getting lower than the kids, and sat with it facing backwards, adding some informality. They read through, relaxed, the most tension-free I had had anyone, Tova was on her feet, almost dancing, Stefan was loose although he held some of the awkwardness natural to him in his body. Stefan got up to work with Pedro and Claudio on the deception scene and Tova and I are left. She is only partly memorized and so we run lines until Charlie walks in, a girl doubling as Hero and Conrade. We run the drunk scene, and again I am sitting on the ground as they caper around, acting intoxicated, and again the strange thing happens. They stop when asked, listen when I speak, glow at my compliments, work at my suggestions. And they keep their energy high. I am awed and humbled.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: