LEAR REHEARSAL NOTES
FOOL: Still too wistful, too pathetic, too plaintive. Your eyes wonder at what happens rather than stare at realities. Make a mask out of white cloth -- just a covering to tie over your face, blotting out all the lines -- stare at yourself in a glass. Bring the mask to rehearsals. Let’s see if that will help you to achieve that ancient mask of clown tragedy which all laugh at. Ask Jane to help you with body movement.
EDMUND: You, too, ask Jane for help in follow-thru on totality of movement, on freedom. Because your body does not express enuf, you are resorting to shouting lines to compensate for what your body does not say.
GONERIL: Same prescrip as above. See Jane -- you need follow thru, freedom to move. You and Regan both get rooted, feet frozen to the ground -- you should go about the business of your world freely. You will be wearing tight garments. Learn to wear them as if animals rippling under the skin with sure, direct followthrough thru movement.
OBSERVATIONS ON DEVELOPMENT OF THE FIRST WEEK OF REHEARSALS.
While the suggestions will be to individuals, it is understood that they will be read and applied by all for it is highly essential that we all play in the same spirit, the same style, working toward the same goal. Within some groups of characters this ensemble has already begun to develop. In others the beginning is slight.
PRESSMAN: The Kent sequence last night (Thursday) revealed a straying from the theme. Lear does not discover the values of love, loyally devoted service, he does not discover humility until after he has suffered. He rewards service, loyalty and love with gifts of rings, money, land -- the reward is all -- his heart does not go with his hand towards another heart. He’s different from Edmund and the other opportunists is that there is no evil in his mind -- he has a heart which he has never used, he has never recognized the value of love. He believed, truly believed, it could be paid for. No doubt Elizabeth occasionally tossed a purse to Shakespeare, no doubt he saw self-seeking opportunists receiving rewards. Yet Elizabeth loved England, killed when her throne was threatened. Did she know the true value of the love which wrote John of Gaunts’ England speech? Or did she toss him a purse in full payment? When Lear meets Kent in disguise, Kent is a man, a person. Lear would not see him, perhaps, if Kent did not draw his attention in some way. In the ensuing dialogue Lear does not realize Kent’s real worth, devotion. He is blind to such realities. He recognizes a man who will serve him, a man who recognizes authority, and when Kent does him service by tripping Oswald, Lear rewards the act with no realization at all of the devotion. Note the contrast in the end when Lear, having suffered, recognizes the real Kent, his love and its true value and only says “I know you, Kent” and has no thought of reward. he now gives love for love with no thought of return. It is not Kent’s disguise in the early scene which prevents recognition of values, it is Lear’s blindness. In your desire, Dave, to endow him with the innate capacity to see, do not jump the gun. Sight comes slowly, painfully, tragically. There is only one slight revealing moment. Lear at a certain moment senses a lack, something missing. It is, of course, Cordelia -- probably she stood in the gate to greet him when he returned from hunts. he does not yet know it is love that is missing. It is a vague lack -- but enough to make him call for the Fool.
NOTE TO ALL: Don’t play the end or the middle before it comes.
KENT: You were doing a bit of this, too. For all his loyalty and nobility he is a realist. He knows the corruption -- he meets it head on, like a dog. When it comes, he does not anticipate it. You seemed to be sadly anticipating Lear’s tragedy. He is merely on the alert. He knows Lear will need him and that is that.
EDMUND: You have an excellent grasp of Edmund, of the play, too, I think. so far it has been purely intellectual. There were glimpses in the improv of Edmund’s alert mind -- but it vanished in the scenes which became manipulated words. You have the physical appearance of Edmund, his vitality and colorfulness. But your body is not flexible. It moves in spurts, in uncoordinated spurts of activity. You lurch into action. Edmund’s body is as flexible, as fluid, as his mind, as his fluent tongue. Work on body movement. Fence while you speak your lines, for instance. Then, too, you do not as yet play with people or situations. You do not let things happen. You do not play off emotions, responses, ideas from other people. Perhaps you could get in some work with Russel and/or Vance who do pretty well with both the inner and outer technique of acting -- and remember all of you: words, ideas, emotions must soar out into the world, over and above the audience, not into the floor.
RUSSEL: Perhaps some improvs with France and Burg or even Alb and Corn would help you find the major dominant aspects of character. Or play an MC for anybody to keep everyone happy, everything moving in the right directions.
LEAR: Certain episodes still become pathetic. It begins with Regan. Remember his mind is searching, seeking all the time -- his mind is working as it has never worked even when he turns to the fool, it’s not pathetically but boring into his brain. When he gets no answer “Mad.” the fool, as conscience, starts his mind. Naked Edgar is his first answer. He has not yet discovered the evil in himself -- that comes later -- a revelation, then “centaurs” realization in madness. Keep that mind on a direct hunt.
EDMUND: Except for a few conspiratorial moments, you are projecting sullenness, moody tragic sullenness. You seem to pass sullen judgement on Regan & Goneril when he should respond to their lust as the opportunist who will gladly use it. He should rejoice in the way everyone plays into his hands. when you are standing silent observing the action, don’t pass tragic judgement on the particpants: feel that you are manipulating the strings which move them to the action which delivers all into your hands. His laughter must be ready for release before the end of each scene -- if it does not become vocal at scene endiings it should be physical in movement release.
We still have not clinched the first scene, opening encounter of Goneril, Regan & Edmund. Robin has played her response well -- Goneril needs to play hers through more completely and she should catch Regan in the midst of hers. There should be an indelible impression left in the mind of the audience of this single moment which they will recall later in the play.
EVERYONE: images are not vivid enough. Play on words is lacking. Review your notes on image patterns.