A Run for the Designers

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

For The Servant of Two Masters, the first two weeks back in school have been focused creating the foundation of the show.  Lines have been memorized, characters have started to develop, the overall blocking (movement of the actors) has been set, and the beginning ideas for all the lazzi moments in the show have begun to sprout.  So much creation has been done, that the next step was to do a Designer Run.

A Designer Run is the first moment that the cast performs the show all the way through for the designers.  While still very much in the beginning stages, it gives the designer’s the opportunity to see the world that is being created and to make sure that the ideas that they are developing in their individual shops are still working.  This past weekend, the set, lighting, costume, sound and prop designers all joined with the cast, the director, the assistant directors, the stage manager and myself to watch the cast put the whole show together for the very first time.

It was a good time.

Here were some of my favorite moments:

Our first intro to the characters

Our first intro to the characters

Our lovers are introduced

Our lovers are introduced

Rivalry? Or alliance?

Rivalry? Or alliance?

The servant girls come out to play

The servant girls come out to play

Chaos starts to ensue

Chaos starts to ensue

Things start to heat up

Things start to heat up

And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what this show is to become!

Commedia Bootcamp

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Before we headed off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Director Stephanie Breinholt and myself put our Servant of Two Masters’ cast through a “commedia bootcamp” – a day dedicated to learning the history, characters, physicality and movement styles of commedia dell’arte.  This bootcamp will serve as the foundation for the style and physical world of our eventual production.

It was a hilarious day.

Here are some of our favorite moments:

 

Meet the Playwright: Carlo Goldoni

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

At the end of commedia dell’arte’s 200 year reign in Italy, there came a man name Carlo Goldoni.  Born in 1707, Goldoni had a love of theatre from his childhood. However, though Goldoni had made his theatrical start writing typical commedia scenarios, with little or no alteration from the accepted traditions, he was concerned that commedia did not fully represent the Italian way of life and manners.  So he decided to make a change.

Building off of the works of the Greeks as well as more contemporary playwrights such as Moliere, Goldoni set out to reform the Italian theatre.  Believeing that reform happened through providing strong examples instead of simply ideas, Goldoni started to create his own plays.  Goldoni became famous for his hybrid style which combined the beloved nature of commedia dell’arte with the style and wit of Moliere. Some of his big changes included replacing the improvisational nature with written scripts, removing the masks so that the actors faces could be seen and reinventing the nature of the lazzi.  Legend has it that every time he finished a play he said, “Good.  But not yet Moliere.”

The Servant of Two Masters is Goldoni’s most beloved script.  It has been translated into many languages and has been adapted for theatres, film and televisions around the world.

 

Inside “Servant” Callbacks

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

As previously mentioned, director Stephanie Breinholt has a big, bold vision for her production of The Servant of Two Masters.  So, naturally, in order to accomplish it, she needs a cast that is up to the task.  Which means we had one hilarious audition process.

As is typical, Stephanie held a two-part audition.  For the first part, interested actors came in and either did a prepared monologue or a cold-read (where they read a scene from the script of Servant). This is pretty normal in the audition world.

Then things really got interesting.  For the second part – the Callbacks – Stephanie had the group of actors she was thinking about casting come in for a 4 hour improvisation and reading extravaganza.

The first hour was focused on the lazzi (physical comedy) part of the show. The actors were divided into groups and given a certain prompt (i.e.: you are about to get on a roller coaster ride and one member of your group is too frightened to sit down).  The groups then had 10 minutes to plan and prepare a scene, which they then performed in front of the whole group.  Stephanie was particularly looking for the actors who made strong and interesting character choices and who were willing to push the physical comedy.

I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard during a callback.  Ever.

And since we caught it all on video, it means we get to share the experience with you.  So here’s a sneak peek at two of the improvs:

For the second hour, Stephanie pulled out the kazoos.  Yes, I said the kazoos.  Since part of the Stephanie’s vision includes the cast creating all the music for the show through kazoos, she wanted to see how creative the actors could be through song and dance.  Again, the actors were divided into groups, given a musical genre (i.e. Country) and then given time to plan and prepare a “musical offering.”

Kazoos + Riverdance = lots of laughter.

Here’s a look at two of the groups.

We concluded the day with the actors reading scenes from the script, vying for the different roles.  At the end, we had so many great actors to choose from…and came up with one fantastically creative cast.