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April 20, 2009

Well, let’s just say I’m grumpy…and be glad you don’t have to put up with me in the morning…or the afternoon or…

If by chance, you don’t want to read a rant theatrical, here is a cartoon about the perils of translation.

See, what I always say about theatre is that one of the things I like about it is that it happens in the evening, at the earliest a once a week afternoon matinee. But now, thanks to the homeschooling schedules (and the theatre sharing schedules) and massive cast conflicts with my original schedule, I have four hour Monday afternoon rehearsals of The Miser, starting at 1 p.m., which is usually when I’m having my green tea after sun and chi gung. But no, I have to go inside the theatre, away from the sun and fresh air; be personable, upbeat and entertaining; rehearse; do my own darn breathing exercises (Gayle leads them with the Theatre Under The Trees Cast in the summer where one of our goals is to rehearse outdoors whenever the weather permits; Gayle leads them because I speed through them and am occasionally — you may be surprised here — not a calm, soothing vibration); and figure out a way to use four hours effectively to rehearse half of a play that’s clocking five acts in ninety minutes. Tomorrow, at least we’re rehearsing the whole thing so if I throw in improv games, breathing exercises, a brief history of French theatre and a comedy matters pep talk, we should be done at 3. That leaves two hours. And I don’t want to run the entire play twice — I’m worried my Miser is going to blow out her voice…although there are performance dates where we do two shows: one at 9:30 AM and one at 12:30 p.m. So we need to build stamina for them. And yes, I knew about the morning shows when I took the job(they said I didn’t have to be on the premises, but as a director, you can’t let yourself off that easy). But it was a very funny script and I’m a sucker for comedy.

So I don’t plan on sleeping the week we have performances…make sure you check back then, if you find this sort of thing entertaining (or know a good joke that will cheer me up). And to start this whole Miser process off, I got one mother who didn’t want her daughter to play a guy and was willing to do costumes instead until some point at the readthrough when they both slunk off quietly and an 18 year old who lectured me for 15 minutes on the language and inappropriateness of the translation before quitting. There is a licking below the earlobe reference — I checked; it’s not in the French. As far as I can tell from my limited high school/college French, all the English translations put in racier things than the original French contains. Footnotes to French English bilingual edition say things like (and I’m paraphrasing because all my theatre paraphernalia is in the car) “spectacles and telescopes both contain lunette and that’s why he refers to her as the brightest thing in the firmament” and “in French, daughter and cashbox are both feminine nouns so they would be referred to as she so that this part would actually make sense to the audience” and “there was a tapestry series of Macom and ?????? popular at the time. The English translation of that last bit in this version? (and here, I am not paraphrasing nearly enough):” “Anthony and Cleopatra, he with spear, she naked, surrounded by various serpents; Napoleon and Josephine, he with hat, she naked, surrounded by various pastries; Venus and Adonis, he with tree, she naked, surrounded by clams and other molluscs”…and no, the lines I’m making up do not contain the words “surrounded by clams and other molluscs.” That one’s in the play. Trust me, it’s memorable.

Right so where was I? Cutting Monday rehearsals down to three hours, short a costumer and a lighting designer, going up in mid May and then auditioning for The Taming of The Shrew ten days after. I think that’s “Here there be Dragons” on the map.

And did I mention how much I miss Shakespeare? I always tell my TUTT casts everything they need is in the script and it’s one of the truer things I ever say. Shakespeare’s language leads you everywhere you need to be. It’s amazing. It’s even more amazing when you’re trying to direct a play by someone else and there are no rhetorical devices to help you and the translator/author decided to make every other word start with a p in the Miser’s last couple of speeches after she’s already talked through 85% of the play…that’s good planning.

Oh yes, and I’ve been so insanely overscheduled, I had to cancel a Gullible and Twitchy session, haven’t pulled out my Wacom tablet to FlipBoom and haven’t even been to the alternate office to just have some tea and look at magazines with shiny Apple technology. Maybe Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or…

And that leaves us with, “Mellow Greetings, Ukey Dukey”…have you ever watched The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer? It’s fun. How about Tuesday around 8ish; I might actually be free. Good night, folks.

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