On the joy of not rehearsing Shakespeare


[Ralph Alan Cohen:] Just imagine any show
— the last show you went to — if you knew that every single thing that was being done on stage was the responsibility of the person doing it. [Gregory Jon Phelps:]
Not only did that bring the plays alive, it brought the audience alive, it brought the words alive, it made things make a lot more sense and it became much more fun. [Tiffany Stern:] When The Globe was built, and then the Black Friars Theatre in Virginia was built, these amazing laboratories for practicing early modern staging had been created, but in a way they created the laboratories before they created the questions to put into them. I think I was lucky because… I had a lot of questions I wanted to explore and there were
groups of actors and spaces that would experiment with them. [Ralph Alan Cohen:]
Simple things, she looked at how much time do people
have to rehearse? How might they have rehearsed? She’s a wizard in the
library and would find every clue she could that might suggest how the
work got up there. [Tiffany Stern:] And excitingly for me, in Stanton, Virginia, there is now a
yearly Actors’ Renaissance Season where the actors put on plays having learnt just those parts, and they don’t have a director. [Vanessa Morosco:] When you receive your script, you don’t receive your full script. You just get a cue script
– meaning just your lines. So the picture of the play is incredibly different. [Tiffany Stern:]
I get to see productions that are crazy and exciting because they’re full of actor choices. All of the things that, in a conventional play, you read about when you read the
director’s diary: the wonderful discovery that happened in rehearsal 12, which you’ve seen a faint echo of, you see it actually happen on stage in front of you. [Gregory Jon Phelps:]
Theatre had something very specific in my mind and all of that just got blown
out of the water, as soon as I saw it work. [Vanessa Morosco:] It’s very rewarding as an
actor to work the way that Tiffany’s taught us to work. It’s such a community experience, because the audience every night
is this incredible variable. They’re the scene partner but they’re different every single night. [Ralph Alan Cohen:] And an audience feels it, and the audience knows
that their show is going to be different to next time. We have repeaters who come back because they know it’s going to be different. I mean our director work is good work, but there is a sense of immediacy. I was saying to someone, “it’s like you’ve taken the cellophane off the play.” It’s cheap, it’s very inexpensive. [Tiffany Stern:] They can both be being original
and interesting and making discoveries, and that is the case, but they also don’t have to pay for a director. [Ralph Alan Cohen:] You had nothing to lose. We would save ourselves the cost
of bringing in a director we would save
ourselves the cost of a costumier because they’d use stock that we already had and if it didn’t work, well, no big deal. They’re doing them so fast
and putting them up so fast, hearing actors say “God, I love this show… “I hardly have any lines.” – that’s new. [Tiffany Stern:] I’m very much an archive person but, also, I’m now connected to so
many theatre companies that I learn a great deal by watching what they have done with earlier material that I have written about. So there’s now a lovely symbiotic relationship between acting and research for me. [Gregory Phelps:] All of the preconceived notions
that I had were like, “well that’s fun… and that’s nice… and that works for certain theatre practitioners.” But what I like now is this other thing…

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