Behold — the trailer for Entity Theatre’s summer Shakespeare production is here: Much Ado About Nothing!
Entity Theatre is back with its summer Shakespeare!
Messina, 1901.The landed gentry around Leonato and Antonio await the end of the war between Don Pedro and his vicious brother, Don John. When Don Pedro returns victorious to Messina, he brings home with him not only the confirmed bachelor, Benedick, but also the eligible young Claudio.
Claudio and Hero, Leonato’s daughter, fall instantly in love with each other and plan an imminent wedding; meanwhile, Leonato’s niece Beatrice resumes her love-hate relationship with Benedick, trading insults.
Don Pedro is intent on tricking Benedick and Beatrice into publicly confessing their love for each other. At the same time, a bitter Don John and his followers, Borachio and Conrade, deceive Claudio by denouncing Hero as unchaste.
At the altar, Claudio refuses to marry Hero and the party disperses, many believing Hero to have died from the slanderous attack.Dogberry and his Watchmen are sent to investigate. And, since this is a comedy, the truth is brought to light and there will be a wedding after all. But who will be the bride?
William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, abr. by David Viita & Conny Loder
Directed by Conny Loder & John Yates, produced by Ken Lawler & Peter Heinz.
Performances: 7-11 & 14-18 July 2021, starting at 19:00h. Shows last approx. 100 minutes.Theatron, Westpark.
Up close and personal with The Tempest director, Conny Loder
How does this project differ from the summer open-air productions? In our live open-air productions, we take down the so-called fourth wall: the actors play to all sides and enter from all sides (sometimes even through the seated audience); they engage with the audience and this interaction boosts the live performance – it gives something back to the actors. Anything can happen. These moments of intimacy, collectiveness, “live”-ness fall flat during a recorded performance without any audience present.
What were the main challenges in this production? The actors all had to settle for their own private film sets: spaces needed to be adjusted, as well as lighting, the virtual backgrounds had to function with the costumes, sound difficulties needed to be sorted – all this on top of the actors actually not seeing each other and not seeing the actual perspective of the director. Because Zoom puts participants into a specific order on the screen by when they enter the meeting, we had to think about where we wanted each character to be positioned in relation to their scene partners. So instead of an actor coming from stage right, stage left, moving up or downstage, actor X signs in first, then actor Y, and so on. This require a new blocking format, which we referred to as “digital blocking.”
What was your favourite moment of this project? That is yet to come: the premiere. It almost feels a bit like a premiere at the Theatron since we know that our audience will join in all at the same time to follow the show, only that this time we won’t be able to share this moment in the amphitheatre, but more with a global audience. Exciting!
“Somehow this bottle completely disappears into the background. Got a different bottle?”
“Alonso, Sebastian is to your right and Antonia above your left shoulder.”
“No, your other right.”
“Here’s a sreenshot, everyone.”
“Why is this not working? I can hear everyone now but nobody can hear me. Now I can’t hear anyone anymore, but they can hear me… what’s going on?”
I stopped counting how often these sentences were uttered in the last four weeks. But we managed — sound, video, backgrounds, passing props from one frame to the next — all sorted. It’s been quite a journey. Now let’s start acting.
“Oh brave new world that has such people in it” or: theatres are allowed to open again, so why keeping the Tempest digital?
While the Bavarian Government opened the possibility for theatres to be back from 15 June, albeit with mighty restrictions, team Tempest decided to remain digital. I believe that outdoor theatre carries a specific mission. This mission is based on the idea to be open for all and everyone to come by, drop in, to join us without restrictions, bring along their family and friends and seat themselves in their convenient way, as outdoor theatre does. Currently it is impossible to accommodate for this. So, let’s stay digital. Let’s stay safe. Let’s entertain.
Why choose The Tempest? The Tempest is believed to be one of Shakespeare’s last plays, if not the last. As such it lends itself to be read as Shakespeare’s farewell from the professional theatre business, with Shakespeare rendering his farewell with Prospero’s epilogue. Maybe one can also read it as a farewell to lockdown? What will the world be like when we all meet again?
The play, specifically written to be performed indoors with its first recorded performance dating to 1611 at the court of James I, rings in a new staging practise. Similarly, for this digital project, directors and stage managment had to come up with some unique ideas to adapt to virtual staging. This also meant that actors had to accommodate for the missing scenery and set by setting up a home film-studio in their living rooms or bedrooms. Some were even banned to the cellar by their families for rehearsals. It’s a hard life in theatre business… Isolation fun?
In Renaissance time, the shift indoors also brought along opportunities. The different acoustics allowed more subtle and quiet music to be used; a candlelit theatre created the famous fourth wall and as such drew the audience into an illusion, created on stage. Think about all the magic tricks that could now be performed. And we also have some that we can’t wait to show you.
Costumes became more precious as they no longer were exposed to the wind and the rain… We know that Inigo Jones (1573-1652), architect and contemporary of Shaksepeare, designed the costumes for the play’s sophisticated and stilised Wedding Masque.
Our Wedding Masque looks superb. Beautiful music and singing, and wonderful costumes. But beware when those spirits turn into harpies…
So here we are. Are we “such stuff as dreams are made on?” Possibly. Stranded in the virtual world, we’re trying to connect to the real world. We’ll zoom ourselves to you. The first four weeks have been quite an interesting journey.
How interesting? Stay tuned. I’ll talk some more about it next time. There are some entertaining facts coming up to be shared with you all.
Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Photos: Tom Hafner
Photos: Dora Lutz
A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things. Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd. For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
And farewell friends, thus R&J ends…
Thank you, everyone, for making this happen — and a big THANK YOU to our great audience!
Pre-show backstage, discipline — warmup — getting into character and last instructions by directors and stage-management. Of course, everyone’s primary question is — how many members are in the audience tonight?
Photos: Dora Lutz
And then the magic moment happens, three drum beats announce the beginning of the play: the moment when audience and actors become accomplices. This is the beauty of outdoor theatre, where there is no fourth wall – no place to hide, all in the open.
Photos: Dora Lutz
And yet, despite the vastness of the venue, there are intimate moments, which create an experience for both, actors and audience, in a unique emotional way.
Photos: Tom Hafner
And who says that Shakespeare is for adults only?
Photos: Dora Lutz
And then there is, of course, the relief afterwards — after a 95-minute-iambic-pentameter marathon of emotional rollercoaster, physical workout and worrying looks up to the sky hoping for the weather gods to spare us the rain tonight, after all this and much more — nothing says “Yes, we did it!” better than a cold drink. Cheers.
What a week! Outdoor theatre holds a lot of surprises, from dogs and small children running onto the stage, to (un)expected rain showers — and sometimes to having an opening night in a hut.
Since the weather gods were not in our favour for our premiere, but we still didn’t want to disappoint our audience, we spontaneously turned opening night into a command performance for 26 audience members, when we moved it into our backstage/storage hut. We set up the Capulet and Montague towers, the tomb, altar and even managed to bring Juliet’s bedroom alive — and all this without ever rehearsing an indoor version. That’s great team work! Below you will find a few impressions from that night.
Photos: Dora Lutz
If you have missed it, here is a review from audience member, Michael:
mit noch feuchten füßen, und augen, schreibe ich diese zeilen. auch wenn am ende noch der klang der gläser stand, heute bevorzuge ich das echo des gesehenen und gehörten. das besondere fand seinen anfang schon im außen: regen. auch wenn ich meine finger 6 tage lang kreuzte, krämpfe mit eingeschlossen, der himmel tut, was er will und so wählte er den ort für dieses schauspiel. und so fanden wir uns im inneren eines art zeltes, gerade so, als säße man selbst in dem turm von julia, so als ringe man selbst mit all den gefühlen die sich in den wunderbar besetzten rollen nach außen stülpten. es war nah. und gibt es einen besseren ort für all das ringen um die liebe, als die enge, die einem herzen gleicht? wo capulets und montagues ins herz hinein- und hinausströmen, wunden hinterlassen und es beschwingen, manchmal im lachen, manchmal im weinen und der glaube hilflos dazwischen steht? und im zentrum weilt ein bett und eine gruft…beides todesnahe orte…und zugleich frieden-bringende. so sind diese worte noch trunken von dem erlebten und die geschichte die schon hundertmale erzählt und durchlebt wurde, erlebte ich heute wie das premierenspiel, so frisch, als wäre shakespeares feder noch feucht. jede rolle fand ihren passenden lebenshauch, wie wunderbar sie nachhallen: romeo und julia, vorallem aber meructio, friar laurence, county paris und julias amme. wähle ich morgen die montagues? auf welche seite werde ich mich schlagen? auf die seite der liebenden! habt dank….und alles endet mit einem tanz…
And although the whole week was a mixture of sun and (sadly, quite a lot of) rain, we managed to perform in the open — our actual venue.
Photos: Dora Lutz
The weather gods seem to be more in our favour next week, so if you haven’t seen R&J yet, you still have a chance!
Tonight, 14 July and 18-21 July, 7pm, Theatron, Westpark