Unmasking The Malcontent: v. VII

“Now ‘gins close plots to work; the scene grows full And craves his eyes who hath a solid skull.”

— Malevole, The Malcontent, Act II Scene 5

Tech week is OVER. And while yes, it’s certainly a relief to have all THAT out of the way (“Can you stand here?” “Why? I always stand there.” “I know, but can you stand here? This is where the light is.” “Well, can’t the light be over there?” “No, it really can’t.” “Fine. I’ll act over there. In the dark.”) it was honestly a much smoother tech week than it had the mad potential of being. For the sake of sanity, we remained a fully integrated cast to work through the tech cues (there was just no appropriate way to strictly divvy the many hours up between Wittols and Cuckolds only), which has allowed us to get through the process very quickly. However, I’d be lying if I said we haven’t run into a few…bumps. You see, the nature of double casting means that one actor has to watch while the second actor learns, and that first actor may not get a moment to learn it for themselves before they’re expected to reproduce the second actor’s work. Coupled with the pressure of previews and opening looming before us, some of us aren’t handling it as well as others (and really, I totally see why they’re terrified), but we are ultimately working through it quite well. Seriously.

Abby Wilde and Blythe Auffarth in performance. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

The two casts were separated at last for dress rehearsals. These costumes are beautiful, intricate, and HEAVY; layers upon layers of clothes for each and every one of us. Jeffrey Schoenberg has done us proud, and I think he’s very proud of us. He told me on the first day of dress rehearsal that he was so pleased to see how well we all are “inhabiting the clothes;” I know exactly what he means, but he deserves full credit for making it so easy for us! His attention to detail has given each of us a wardrobe which REQUIRES you to move appropriately. You can’t slouch in a corset and you can’t shuffle in a long skirt. One MUST glide in a perfectly vertical and graceful manner, or else you will find yourself tripping over your three skirts or falling out of the top of your exciting underwear. I wish we’d had the full costumes earlier; not because I’m having any trouble, but because I’m having WAY to much fun — both in learning how my character relates to her clothes, and watching the men negotiate with their tights and bum rolls (a sort of cylindrical pillows tied around one’s waist and resting over the back of their hips to hold out their voluminous skirts or puffy Prince Charming pants. It gives your waist an illusion of slimness and straightness, but you do also appear to be wearing a pillow on your bum. To the Jacobeans, this was apparently totally worth it.).

Abby performs. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

I write this to you from the Antaeus library, mere hours before the Wittols cast opens previews. I’ll let you in on a little secret: this is my first time working on a show that has officially designated previews. I’m not sure what to make of them; they are a strange animal. It’s more official than a dress rehearsal, all the light and sound cues are there, and we even charge admission. On the other hand, we charge half price for the tickets, the edges (missing buttons, unstyled wigs, skipped sound cues) can still be a little rough, and we do not invite the press. Alex Knox (Ferneze in the Wittols cast) compares it to middle school: “You’re going through puberty. It’s a transitional phase; there are growth spurts, there’s awkwardness, your voice may crack. It’s not fully-fledged, but it’s magical because there’s unexpected growth, discovery and…filling out of things.”

Well, yes. But it’s puberty with a paying audience. I’m not certain I like the sound of that.

You know what, though? I’m not worried. In fact, I don’t care if my wig comes off during curtain call; I get to be onstage tonight.

Like I said, previews are open to the public, and tickets are available through the Antaeus website. I hope you’ll be there! We’d love to have you, and you don’t want to miss it.

Especially if my wig flies off in curtain call.

A2 Ensemble Member, Abby Wilde, continues to share her experiences working on our production of The Malcontent . This is the seventh installment. For tickets, visit www.antaeus.org

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