Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Well here I am, transitioning from BRT to Cal Shakes and seem on some level to be resisting the transition; I don't think its a resistance born out of negativity though, but rather it springs from that sense of impending departure, that sure and certain knowledge that very soon I will be leaving the cast of Lieutenant of Inishmore at BRT -- leaving behind a wonderful experience and group of people. I truly don't want to leave the show and it saddens me that I must.

I'm not usually a sentimental actor when it comes to a show ending--perhaps some of this is due to my early rep experience; when a show was over you went on to the next one, many times with the same group of actors, so these feelings about Inishmore are a rare event to this crusty old salt. I thank the whole bunch of goobs -- crew, cast and director -- for making me laugh more than I have in ages, put this memory in my pocket and move on.

So. Romeo and Juliet. Here I am. Again.
This is my 7th R & J, and I've played damn near everyone in the play by now.

My first was in College, New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces. I got cast as Mercutio. I'd done 2 Shakespeares at most and had really no idea what I was saying -- I did know a good deal of it was rude and I remember being very clear on those particular passages, to the dismay of our rather proper director. I think all the dead people got up and danced at the end.

My next production was in El Paso, Texas at the Chamizal Memorial Theatre, newly built to cement cultural ties between the US and Mexico. I'll attribute the demise of my teen homophobia entirely to this show as the entire male cast, with the exception of myself, was gay. They were totally nice to me when they could have been cruel and only once did I get my eyes widened by walking into the restroom and seeing more than one individual in the shower.

The show was performed on a football shaped stage, raked at an angle of about 30 degrees. This is just about the angle that, were you aboard a ship in a raging ocean, the deck would tilt to just before you slid off it into the sea.......very difficult to work on. We had to use rosin to get a good grip.

The director hated me. After my death at the hands of Romeo he had me lie on my back upstage. For the rest of the play. Yep. I became a set piece. Every one acted around me. I got so good at regulating my breathing I'd go into a sort of trance and would actually fall asleep. I tried to listen, I tried to stay awake, but every night would get a boot in the ribs when my fellow actors would kick me to wake me for the curtain call. I don't think I ever snored.

The next was in Sacramento, as Tybalt. Don't remember much about that one.........

In 1982 I was cast as Mercutio at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; I remember we had to audition for the role (sometimes the roles are offered flat out) and had to duke it out with some of the big boys at the Festival to get the part. Kyle MacLachlan played Romeo (this was before he went to Hollywood) and was quite good. We had a terrific rapier dagger fight that wasat least 3 minutes long and was exhausting to perform, but oh my I was in great shape!

The next three productions have been at Cal Shakes, once as The Prince, once as Montague, and in the current production, Juliet's father, Daddy Capulet; L. Peter Callender has played Capulet in the 2 previous productions--he was magnificent in the role, and I can't seem to get his voice out of my head................

Help me.


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