Monday, April 13, 2009

Nick Sandys continues...

Now that we have got through the script a couple of times, have blocked it in one and a half days (unheard of for a Bohnen-meister production!), and tried to work it through, there comes the dreaded memorisation moment, and oh is this going to be fun--Not! Pinter's precision is so poetic, so rhythmic, that any word out of place, or the wrong word, just makes you hiccough in the line anyway. And what with the repetitions and the non-linear leaps, the next few days will feel like an inner circle of hell! Other than that elephant in the room, things are going well, I feel. If only I could actually have a night off to work on the lines and get some sleep, I would be smiling "fit to bust"! We are currently working on bringing the lightness to the menace, finding the places when a character feels in control enough to back off, to ease off the pointed digs and competition because he/she feels like they know something "dead." And of course, they are then undermined within a couple of pages. But this lightness seems really necessary for the play's humor to surface--and will counterpoint with the savage humor when people behave badly. And it is also time for us to dig deeper, to find the sub-basement to use James' words, so that the heavy emotions are accessible and rise up to haunt us. Always uncomfortable but exciting work.

We also are blessed by having a very smart young assistant director in the room, Sean, who not only gives James someone to tell stories to, but who also has a keen eye and has made several great suggestions already. He also gave me an essay on "sats," a Norwegian term for the potential energy that precedes kinetic action, a vital part of the threat bubbling under the surface of any Pinter play. The essay connects the writings of many theatre theorists and practitioners, who all agree on the necessity of this power to generate meaning for the audience and transmit intentions even when nothing is actually acted out--like watching a cat focus before it chases: you know what it is going to do, what it wants to chase and destroy. Now that is Pinter--none of that "weasel under the sideboard" rubbish!

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