The Process of a Work in Process

Opening ClassicsFest 2011 is The Doctor’s Dilemma, George Bernard Shaw’s take on whether or not medicine should be a profit-driven business. Over one hundred years later, the debate is still raging and we’re thrilled to present Shaw’s perspective.

Featured in this production is Antaeus Company Member, Robert Pine, pictured at left with Nike Doukas in last season’s Cousin Bette (photo by Michele K. Short). Robert’s impressive career encompasses work on stage, in film and in tv, but he is probably best known to audiences as Sgt. Joe Gertraer from CHIPS. In The Doctor’s Dilemma, Robert plays Sir Patrick Cullen, a distinguished doctor, skeptical of his friend and fellow physician, Sir Colenso Ridgeon, and his supposed cure for consumption.

I spoke to Robert about his experience thus far working on a ClassicsFest Work in Process. He noted that, “as opposed to a full out production, the approach is basically the same except for the obligation to memorize the lines which in regards to time is a significant difference.” Learning lines is definitely not one of Robert’s favorite activities, but working on the show script in hand doesn’t keep Robert or the rest of the cast from going in depth with the play. As Robert describes it, “exploring the text is always the first thing in any consideration of a play and Antaeus has always stressed the text which is why I like working with this company so much. Usually when we start we sit around a table and slowly go through the play and stop frequently to ask questions and explore whatever might arise.  That could be a discussion of the period, the particular customs, the language or the ideas which the text stimulates.  Anything is up for grabs.  I have always loved this part of the process.” The great thing about ClassicsFest is the depth of the process for these workshop productions. Antaeus actors don’t do anything halfway and part of the thrill of seeing a Work in Process is the ability to focus on the world class acting, with few distractions.

In short, to use Robert’s own words, “The Doctor’s Dilemma deals with timeless issues such as class differences, the super-inflated egos of self important men and hypocrisy.  All are put on a skewer and roasted by Shaw’s considerable wit and intelligence.  All of this contributes to a very enjoyable journey.” I personally can’t wait to take the journey of The Doctor’s Dilemma – and the journey of ClassicsFest 2011! It’s going to be a great summer.

Summer Intern and Columbia University MFA Candidate Jen Hoguet is keeping you up-to-date on all things ClassicsFest this summer at Antaeus. She can be reached via email at jen@antaeus.org or followed on twitter @JHoToGo …

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