Saturday, June 30, 2012

OPS Fest's As You Like It

This was the first time we saw OPS Fest (Original Practice Shakespeare Festival) and we are now fans.  It was so great even the rain couldn't chase us away from the performance.

Our stage under the St. John's Bridge.
Pre-show entertainment. Notice the umbrellas.
Noah Goldenberg played Orlando, but first he let us know how OPS Fest works.  In Shakespeare's time no actor was handed the entire play.  Instead, they received a scroll with the lines for their character's part as well as their cues.  This was because, Noah told us, actors make their living by lying and there was no copyright law at the time, so if you gave an actor the entire play, there was nothing stopping him from going across the street and putting on the same play.  For that reason, only the stage manager and the prompter had the full play.  At OPS Fest actors receive scrolls for their character(s) lines which are from the First Folio.  According to the program, "These texts preserve the original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, versification, and other clues to actors.  Thanks to the way Shakespeare coded these directions into the cue-scripts (directions which modern editions of his plays tend to edit away) their roles tell them everything they need to know to create a fantastic performance.  Each actor learns two to eight roles in each show, and we constellate the cast differently for each performance, so every day's show is unique."

They perform several plays over the summer (five this year) and they don't rehearse before they appear on stage.  How do they keep everyone straight?
Enter the Prompter!  For this performance, Joel Patrick Durham was the prompter and he used his whistle to make sure each actor said all their lines, actors entered and exited according to cue, and sometimes he would just have the actor break character and do, say, a George McFly impression from the movie Back to the Future.
Orlando and servant Adam.  You can see Orlando taking advantage of his scroll.
The prompter needed an umbrella at the beginning, when the rain was still raining.
Orlando and Oliver, along with Adam in the background.
The cast lined up waiting for their entrance.
Here's a good shot of the scrolls.  The scrolls were awesome, as was the general "Comedy Sportz"/Improv atmosphere.
Orlando waiting for his cue.  He actually missed it due to bridge noise.  The prompter blew his whistle, and called out, "Orlando enters" and Orlando did enter, saying: "Sorry, I couldn't hear anything due to bridge traffic."  We laughed.
 Near the end of the play it started to pour again.  We all hunkered down and waited for the end.  The cast brought out umbrellas too.  

It was a great performance and we will make OPS Fest a part of our Summer Shakespeare experience from now on.

1 comment:

Sara K. said...

I like the idea of Shakespeare Comedy Improv! THat is very awesome. Can't wait to see more.