At our last rehearsal, bodies hit the floor 44 different times only to rise again and “mercury in” to another role for the next round.
We’ve now completed the first two weeks of our process for round three of Mercury Hamlet and we’re settling into what our rehearsal structure will look like. There’s no map for the most efficient way to rehearse a whole ensemble through every role in an entire play. Yet. We’ve had to build our ship at sea.
On our third try at a structure that serves us stupendously, we’ve found a nice niche.
For Mondays and Tuesdays, our ensemble is divided in half and we move through the text incredibly slowly, uncovering details and discoveries fresh even to people who have been simmering on the same story for several years.
Our director, Annie Considine, has brought us the tools of “dictionary work” and “dropping in” which have proved already to be luminous along the path.
The depth of our collective understanding of this centuries old script is ever expanding.
As ensemble member Jordan Golding put it, “being a depressed, revenge-driven, young Danish prince is quite f*ing nuanced!”
Not to mention the possibilities of light bulbs going off as we build relationships with the characters we might have never been cast in, were it not for the radically inclusive equalizer of mercurial on-the-spot casting. We examine the events from every angle then un-do and re-do our perceptions of the play with every pass.
On Wednesdays, we “round robin” our way though the scenes which we’ve already given heavy attention to the words, words, words of and get all of our players in the shoes of all of the characters. (Metaphorically, of course. So far no one has brought in 10 pairs of rehearsal shoes, but that would be a delightful surprise if someone did…)
But why are we already dying?
We begin at the end and work backwards. We at Quicksilver Shakespeare Company took inspiration from the School at Steppenwolf, where we encountered the text “Backwards & Forwards” by David Ball.
Ball raises the expert point that when an event happens, there are any number of possible outcomes that could follow. However, when you move backwards through a story, one can trace causes from their effects to uncover a more thorough understanding of what transpires and why.
Moving backwards, we also have the added bonus of rehearsing the final (massively chaotic) scene the most; so when we reach performances in the spring, our 90 minute romp through one of the English speaking world’s most famous text finishes with a bang! And several clinks, swishes, and slashes.
Did I mention we’ve added steel swords to this round?
On that note, it’s off to practice some fight choreography for me! See you next week with more updates on the magic and mayhem as it unfolds.