Unmasking The Malcontent: v. X

“But for our souls, they are as free as emperors; there goes but a pair of shears betwixt an emperor and the son of a bagpiper; only the dyeing, dressing, pressing, glossing makes the difference. ” — Malevole, THE MALCONTENT, Act IV, Scene 5

Lynn Milgrim and Marisol Ramirez. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

At the pick-up rehearsal before the first Becco performance last week, Ann Noble (who plays Maria in the Cuckolds cast) told me she was irrationally nervous all morning: “But then I got here, and realized ‘Oh! It’s all my friends from tech. Cool.'” It’s true; we’re not all that intimidating once you get to know us.

It’s also true that, in spite of completing the entire rehearsal process as one unit, the two casts of THE MALCONTENT have been as two ships passing in the night ever since tech week; even watching the other cast at previews every night, the fourth wall stood firm between us (though, if you’ve seen the show, you know I use the term ‘fourth wall’ broadly.) It’s hard not to get competitive about it, either; we’ve already discovered that one cast is already faster, one cast has a darker interpretation of the play, and that it’s very difficult not to feel a twinge of betrayal when you learn a friend has chosen to attend the other cast’s performance and not yet yours. In spite of the competition, though, there’s simply no way not to miss your friends from tech; artfully assorted though the two casts are, we’ve all had to give up certain character relationships and bits of schtick in the separation. Thank god for Becco casting.

Ann Noble and Adrian LaTourelle. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

Every Thursday and Friday, the Becco cast for that evening is called for a pick-up rehearsal; this has always been the practice in all Antaeus productions to compensate for the week-long hiatus, but it’s even more pressing for us in that we need the extra time to negotiate the Wittol-Cuckold disparities. We speed through our blocking and dialogue, interrupting ourselves occasionally to confer (“Oh, you go there now…” “Yes, but I can stay over here.” “No, actually, I love that. Keep it. Where were we?”), and in such a start-and-top fashion cobble together the choicest bits from either group. For the most part, the blocking isn’t what’s terribly different, but the timing and intention. As, for example, Saundra McClain and Lynn Milgrim both play the role of Maquerelle, and though for the most part their traffic pattern remains the same, they’re so different as actors, that their rhythms and speech patterns give completely different flavors to their performances. Saundra and I are both Wittols, and as such I am most accustomed to her delivery; hearing the way Lynn says the same speech is like hearing a new scene altogether.

The wonderful thing about Beccos performances is that they perpetuate the atrocious acts of theater theft we thought we’d left behind in rehearsal; the stuff we bring back from the Beccos to our own casts (coupled with the fact that even on a Wittol or Cuckold night, someone has jumped the fence for the night for one reason or another; it’s nearly impossible to see a pure incarnation of the Wittol or Cuckold cast) make every night new, unpredictable, and slightly dangerous. But altogether, my favorite feature of the Beccos cast is resurrecting all those stage-relationships left behind, and finding them even more fun than we remembered them.

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

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