The Antaean Brain: An Assistant Director’s POV

The company of Mrs. Warren's Profession at Antaeus. Photo by G. Wade

The company of Mrs. Warren’s Profession at Antaeus. Photo by G. Wade

I’m not really sure the first time that Antaeus came into my consciousness, but the company has been one that I’ve wanted to work with for a while: especially because of the urging of some of my mentors, who have all been involved in one way or another. I participated in an Antaeus “down and dirty reading” of James Joyce’s The Dead, a collaboration between the Antaeans and the USC cast of the production that I worked on in college. Now that I’m involved with Antaeus in an official capacity, I have the opportunity to see just how this unique company is able to keep the pulse of classical theater alive in Los Angeles.

MWP_031small

Seeing Double? Bill Brochtrup & Arye Gross share the role of Praed. Photo by G. Wade

One of the things that Antaeus is known for is their use of partner casting; double casting each role and performing with rotating casts through the run of each of their productions. As I watch the rehearsal process unfold, there are several things about the rehearsal process that are illuminated. First, I’ve always been told that no one will hand you anything in life. That seems a broad generalization but there is a piece of truth in it for #MrsWP (the production’s Twitter handle). If an actor is not prepared to work (which, astoundingly, every single actor in this cast always is), the other actor is able to jump in and work. This pushes the rehearsal process along much faster than it normally might. Second, the opportunity to watch the play run its course and then to step into it and experience the journey for yourself is a chance usually only afforded to understudies. Now, it is one afforded to each member of every Antaeus production. The chance for self-reflection is paramount in any rehearsal process and the Antaeans take full advantage.

Daniel Bess & Rebecca Mozo in rehearsal. Photo by G. Wade

Daniel Bess & Rebecca Mozo in rehearsal. Photo by G. Wade

We’re deep into rehearsals for #MrsWP and I’m sort of starting to figure out what I’m doing here. It’s an interesting position to be coming into an established group of people who all have a very similar vocabulary and working method, or “Antaean brain” as I like to call it. This being my first production experience out of college, it’s interesting to segue from an academic/education atmosphere to one that is strictly professional with all attention focused towards the show that will open in a month and a half. What I’ve come to realize over the last few weeks working with Antaeus and the lovely #MrsWP-ers is that this experience is not for me to learn how to negotiate the waters of a Shaw play, however rough and rugged they are, but rather to learn how to translate the vocabularies of fifteen different people into something that I am able to understand and work with, a skill that will be one of the most valuable I will ever learn.

The vernacular of laughter: Director Robin Larsen with Dramaturg Christopher Breyer. Photo by G. Wade

The vocabulary of laughter: Director Robin Larsen. Photo by G. Wade

When you work on a production in college, the performances are really the last thing that’s worried about. It’s about process; it’s about learning. It’s about learning different ways into different pieces and exploring different working methods so that one may ultimately figure out how the hell to make headway in what may seem like an impenetrable work. The one thing that is different is the vocabulary. At USC, everyone works with the same vocabulary, normally the one of the director. If I were to walk into a certain rehearsal and mention that an actor should maintain the fixed point or cultivate a curiosity about their secondary activity, there would be no confusion. Coming to Antaeus, I’m learning how to translate the vocabularies of everyone in the room into my own working vernacular and communicate effectively on several different wavelengths. I’m slowly realizing that this is not a skill to take for granted.

Kaufer_ZachZach Kaufer is our fantastic assistant director on the Spring 2013 production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession.  Zach was very pleased to learn we don’t  “partner cast” our production team. Tickets are now on sale: www.antaeus.org

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. Terrific, Zach! Now, what the heck is this about “an actor should maintain the fixed point or cultivate a curiosity about their secondary activity”? Sounds fascinating…!


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s