The Red Man
Thursday I went shopping at Target covered in blood.
It's remarkable how everyone steers clear of you when you're bloody--especially when you've got a shopping cart and are blithely rolling down the aisle selecting cat food, Q-tips, and various and sundry snacks for the up coming tech week. I had washed up and mopped most of the goo from my face and beard I thought, but when I got to Target the automatic sliding doors showed a brief glimpse of a man who looked as if he'd been hit in the head with a brick. Or run over by a car. Some event that involved catastrophe. I had a nice little drool of blood oozing from my right ear, my pants were liberally covered with it, and my face and hands had a distinct reddish sheen to them. I lurched into the store--I was tired. I needed that cat food.
Mothers pulled their children closer to them or whisked them hastily away, young ladies walked around the corner and paled when they saw me--the cashier was distinctly wary of me and very polite, and the security guards hands edged closer to the pepper spray. The pharmacist edged her nose over the lip of her counter and asked me in a shaky voice if I'd found everything I needed, and ducked back down when I gave her a cheery "Yes, thanks!" It was grand fun actually; try it sometime--cover yourself liberally with blood and then go to Walmart to buy garbage bags, a chainsaw and a wood chipper and be really nice and cheery.
We'd had our first "blood rehearsal" for Lear.
I've never done this show before, seen maybe one or two productions of it and am really not familiar with it -- some Shakespeare's plays I've done times; Romeo and Juliet.........Oh God save me, I don't know if I could bear another production of it despite it's strength and beauty. But two new Shakespeare's in one season?--that hasn't happened in a long time.
We are blessed with a director (Lisa Peterson) who's incredibly acute, fun to work with and has a true, clear eye for theatre and a cast of smart, smart actors.
One of the curses of working working with people this talented? I feel incredibly inadequate, feel the choices I am making are standard, dull, and not active. I'm not being a whiner mind you, but I feel like I'm generalizing and am somehow at a loss when I do try to be more specific. It seems as if I've been getting help for things I don't generally need help with, but Lisa has been a joy to work with, patient and very generous with me.
I did not "drop into" this role the way I do some; when I did Glengarry Glen Ross at ACT I walked into the room at the audition and nailed it, I had such a firm take on the character that I kind of walked into it. But this one--Glouchester? Who is this man? He's as much a function as he is a man, I think--that is he seems to live and exist solely for Lear, his King. We hear him talk of his bastard son Edmund with more fondness for the night he was conceived than of Edmund himself--in fact refers to him as an embarrassment he's gotten used to--and of his legitimate son Edgar says is "no dearer in my account". Not an argument for a warm and cuddly father-son relationship.
Lear is Glouchester's magnetic north--he seems an intimate, perhaps a confidante of Lears, plays some sort of function at court and has a high social status. He's an Earl (ranking just below a Duke) he has land and an Estate so he's fairly wealthy. Still doesn't tell me who HE is, what his personality is specifically--he's not an old doddering fool, he swims in the shark infested waters of an extremely competitive court and yet he is naive in a way that is almost unlikely and gets taken in very easily.
He has much taken from him as well-- finds himself in situations in which he is powerless to act and dependent on others. Perhaps it's one of the reasons I've done so much flailing about in the role. Hmm. At any rate, now we're in the Bruns doing re-staging during the day and lights sound and costumes at night till about 12:30 at night.
It is a stunning play.