Thursday, July 29, 2010

Macbeth- Week Five Rehearsals

It's getting down to the "Mac-wire" as it were. Discoveries and being made, scenes are getting tighter, relationships and motivations are becoming clearer . . . all in the enormous shadow of the MU building. While all the pieces are coming together, it's the time in the process to make the show move. A focus on pace, timing, and bringing out the rich detail we've worked so hard to produce will push the production to the next level. All the elements are there, in place, it's now up to the actors to focus and make the world come alive for the audience.

The actors are all focusing in at finding their characters an making precise choices about physicality and vocal life. After more experiments with dialect work, I ultimately decided to forgo the idea. While, in some respects, I liked the extra layer of detail it provided to enhance the world of the play. Sometimes, however, ideas such as these just don't work for practical reasons. When producing outdoor plays in such an enormous space as the Quad, projection and clarity of diction if just as important (if not more) than physicalization and well-conceived character work. Too much of the text was getting lost in the dialect so it was dropped. It's all part of the process of discovery of figuring out what does and does not work.

Another process of discover I've been toying with over the past few weeks is manufacturing a scary and realistic-looking severed Macbeth head. Familiar with the casting process for mask-making, I excitedly took on this project which has really involved a lot of trial and error. Casting for a mask a quite a bit different and more involved than for an entire human head because there are just so many more contours and complexities involved. The first attempt at casting the face, neck, and ears ended in failure. The casting material of choice, alignate, takes great impressions, but is unfortunately fragile and occasionally difficult to work with. While the cast of the back of his head worked, the face cast was torn in several places and, therefore, unusable. Matt (Macbeth) was a trooper in his willingness to sit for a second casting with eyes and mouth completely covered in pink, rubbery goo. The second facial casting (after figuring out a better water to alignate ratio) was far more successful and resulted in four plaster positive from which I will create a latex version of Matt's head.

Getting things just right requires patience and practice. I found that if I work with the delicate alginate carefully enough, I am able to pull a successful positive latex version of the body part from the mold. This meant mixing the alginate thick with warmer water , applying a thick layer to the plaster positive, then covering the alginate with gauze bandages and a thick layer of plaster to ensure that it keeps its shape after the casting. Mixing the materials is a messy (but fun) business. In moving into these last few days before tech, it's all about creating the final details to make the production and the world come alive.

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