We began our rehearsals for our production of Timon of Athens this week with The Actors Shakespeare Project. Very excited about this play: I love working on obscure Shakespeare plays and I have NEVER seen this one, or even read it until now. Allyn Burrows, our Timon and Artistic Director, even mentioned last night that it's one of the ONLY Shakespeare plays not tackled by the venerable Shakespeare & Company in their long existence (the others were, I believe, The Rape of Lucrece and The Two Noble Kinsmen).
Bill Barclay, who is a long-time collaborator and new company member and very talented actor and musician, is our intrepid director and has wonderful, exciting ideas. Our first rehearsal was a bit unusual in that Bill was stuck in London due to the recent air traffic chaos caused by the eruption of that Icelandic volcano whose name I won't even try to spell...
So our first rehearsal was pretty chill, no directors, no official design presentations (although our costume designer, the wonderful Anna-Alisa Belous showed us some beautiful sketches of the costume design). It was just the actors and the stage managers reading the play and chatting. None of the usual hoopla that accompanies a first rehearsal, and I have to say, I sort of found it wonderful and relaxing!
Bill was back last night, thru some miracle in plane cancellations, luck and tenacity. Right from the airport to our rehearsal. I hope he's sleeping right now!
Timon of Athens is a tricky play. No one is particularly likable in this world, and there is a very interesting shift from the first part of the play (which, to me, reads like a satire - and a very fresh, modern one at that!) and the second part (Timon becomes a hub that is visited by all other characters, the tone changing to a darker color that seems to suit Timon change of fortune and philosophy. It is wildly funny at points, and some truly great curses are thrown around.
Bill has configured it with a cast of 8: four actors playing "immutable" roles (Timon, Apemantus, Alcibiades and Flavius) and a "Chorus" of four actors playing everyone else. I'm one of the chorus, so I get to play a menagerie of flatterers, bandits, servants and jerks, which is always fun!
Now that my teaching schedule is lightening up, I have a bit more time, so I'll try to blog about Timon as we go along, it should be pretty interesting to work on this play, I'm really looking forward to it!