For our Shakespeareanscenes, my group performed the scene from TwelfthNight where Olivia meets Viola disguised as Cesario (Shakespeare, Bate andRasmussen, 2008).
However, in contrast to the original’s period set up, wechose to transfer the play to a modern setting: An office staffed by theattendants of Olivia as her employees where Cesario enters to get Olivia toaccept a business proposal. Drawing inspiration from popular sitcoms such as The Office, we wanted to transform theoriginal’s comedic effect into a type of humour relatable to a modern audience,especially since character tropes have stayed the same, thus not taking awayfrom the dramatic intentions of the source material.After our performance, wecritically reflected on it both as a group and individually and although wewere generally happy with our interpretation and got some positive feedback, wefound several ways to improve. Firstly, we realised there should have been moreemphasis on adequately balancing the scene’s base comedy so as not to turn itinto a pantomime and prevent an overly slapstick or stereotypical presentation,which we realised does not go too well with the classical heightened text andits sometimes-subtle puns.
Furthermore, we could have improved the use of spacethrough better diagonal and vertical movement, not only to liven up theperformance but also to combat that some of the audience’s sight lines were partiallyblocked. Consequentially, the lighting would have needed to be planned betterso the entire cast could be more visible. As a result of the narrow timeframeto rehearse this scene and especially because we were lacking a director, Inoted we should strive for a better time management in the future to developbetter ensemble work and linked performances through more rehearsal time as agroup rather than individually.Out of the others’performances, the scene from The Tamingof the Shrew struck me as particularly interesting. This may partly bebecause it is one of my favourites Shakespearean comedic plays, but mainlybecause it was executed so well: Putting the scene in a modern-day pub settingbrought interesting staging opportunities, i.e. through the placement ofaudience members at tables woven into the blocking of the scene.
EspeciallyFrancesca and Isabel playing to different tables on opposing sides of the stagehelped create an atmosphere in which they seemed to be actively trying to boastto the audience members, thereby drawing them into the conflict of the scene asactive participants rather than as a passive spectator. I also really likedthis group’s choices regarding character interaction and technique. As theywere off-script quite early on during the rehearsal process, I could see themusing their lines as means to bounce off each other’s reactions instead ofmerely acting out their meaning in a way that reminded me of Meisner’s repetitionexercise (Meisner, Longwell and Pollack, 1987) – The chemistry and relationshipbetween Petruchio and Kate in this scene created an interpersonal tension thatmade it very engaging and entertaining to watch.