adapted and directed by John Schmor
This project was inspired by teaching the sonnets to my students in Acting Shakespeare classes across the years. I had always imagined I would one day be devising with students something intimate, small-scale, probably in the Hope. But we ended up needing a Shakespeare production in the fall slot for the Robinson…
- so I at first abandoned thinking about the sonnets and tried to look for a play to do. I re-read a number of possible plays but kept coming back to the sonnets, which I regard as a kind of heart-map for so much that I admire in the plays.
The challenge became how to find a way to bring the sonnets to a larger scale, to use the poems but also the narrative woven into the full sequence (Poet loves beautiful young man. Poet then loves dark lady. Poet finds out beautiful young man and dark lady are having sex. Poet loses in love but gains in wisdom.)
I freely borrow, not just from Shakespeare, but also an idea from Oscar Wilde and also a wonderful book on who played what in Shakespeare’s company (most of it clever speculation – but still – the argument is not improbable that Shakespeare wrote for particular people over time – and these actors had influence on the kinds of characters Shakespeare created). My first proposal draft for season selection approval was written very quickly over a two-week period. A number of students helped me to see my way through several revisions and expansion, especially Charlie Van Duyn, who had major influence on structure, and Sophie Kruip, who organized a group of graduating seniors to do a reading only days before auditions last June.
Casting changed things again, especially Andrew Nuguyen, who auditioned with the very song he performs to open our show. I cut one character and added Feste in because of Andrew and his song. Andrew Krivoshein, who plays William M., read so well for two roles, William M. became a far different character than originally drafted. Everyone in this cast invented key moments and inspired me to write and re-write, and not one of the actors ever complained about the almost nightly changes through our rehearsal process. I think the strongest influence on the shaping of this show’s text has come from Maggie Stabile, my assistant director, on whose honesty and clarity I learned quickly to rely. And my notes here are just about how the text developed – so much more was contributed or collaboratively created with designers, choreographers, musicians and stage managers! It has been a wild adventure that I hope you know now includes you – as any kind of performance is a collaboration with the audience: “Let us, ciphers to this great account, on your imaginary forces work.