Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Sep 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Passion Play

A few words with those who know Shakespeare best

passionplay3When it comes to Shakespeare Santa Cruz, there’s much ado about something. Year after year, the revered company brings William Shakespeare’s words to life on our side of the western world. This year, season 26, features two Shakespeare plays, one play by J.M. Synge and another by Samuel Beckett. And at the endgame of this season (with the holiday show) artistic director Paul Whitworth will take a bow and move on to his next endeavor.

The summer season delivers four compelling shows: “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by Kim Rubinstein, “The Tempest” directed by Kirsten Brandt, “The Playboy of the Western World” directed by Robert Moss and “Endgame” directed by Peter Lichtenfels.

Shakespeare’s “Much Ado,” a romantic comedy, is a story about a couple—Claudio and Hero—and their tricky love affair. Meanwhile there are the happenings of singles Benedick and Beatrice. Beckett’s “Endgame” chronicles two bickering men: the blind Hamm and his helper, Clov. “The Tempest,” also by Shakespeare, is about Prospero and Miranda, who are stuck on an island as fate befalls them. Finally, “The Playboy of the Western World,” written by Synge, tells a story about Christy Mahon, a man who claims that he killed his father. Rounding out the season is what SSC calls its “Fringe Show,” this year being “The Mock-Tempest.” The show highlights the work of SSC’s interns and is a creative adaptation of “The Tempest.”

But behind all the powerful directors, the stunning costumes, the exquisitely crafted sets and the outstanding performances by the actors, there are two people who help to make it all happen. They’re the linguistic duo of Michael Warren and Christine Adaire. Warren, who works as a textual consultant, has been a SCC contributor since the company’s inception in 1982.

“He is one of the foremost experts on Shakespeare, as a scholar anywhere in the world,” notes Marcus Cato, managing director of SSC. “He’s a dramaturgical resource for us, and an expert on the text. … It’s critical to have someone in the rehearsal room who knows the text that well.”

Adaire, a SSC newbie this year, flies in from Chicago to offer her skills as a vocal coach and dialogue instructor to the company. These behind-the-scenes Shakespeare aficionados are the thread that keeps the language connected in the plays. They give life to an old text, meaning to archaic words; and they help the actors slip into dialects and accents with ease. The reason why it all makes sense? Warren and Adaire. GT caught up with the two wordsmiths. Take note of their words:

MICHAEL WARREN

passionplay1WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SERVE AS A TEXTUAL CONSULTANT TO THE FESTIVAL?

It’s a very loose term. I’m basically the local scholar in residence. When they want to ask me questions, I’m there to answer them. And then I serve as the dramaturge for one of the plays. I answer questions from the director, and sit in on rehearsals. I give them help about what the lines mean. There’s a whole sequence in “The Tempest” that discusses the widow Dido and it sets up problems for actors and audiences … and we get into a big discussion about it. Sometimes the speeches are hard to understand. I’m generally there as a resource. I’m just doing “The Tempest.”

FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN’T TERRIBLY FAMILIAR WITH SHAKESPEARE, HOW DO YOU SUGGEST THEY PREPARE FOR ATTENDING ONE OF THE PLAYS THIS SUMMER?

Just simply read the play. Read an edition which has got good glossaries in it. That will help you understand the words. There are plenty of introductory books out there that have strengths and weaknesses. It’s not a bad idea to read a plot summary.

FOR THOSE WHO MIGHT BE INTIMIDATED BY SHAKESPEARE’S LANGUAGE, WHAT CAN YOU SAY TO ALLEVIATE THEIR INTIMIDATION?

Patience and trust. Listen to the actors speak. The fact is it’s not scary. There’s an assumption that everyone is getting everything. That’s not true.

CHRISTINE ADAIRE

passioplay2AS THE DIALECT AND VOCAL COACH FOR SSC, WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR JOB? WHAT DO YOU DO?

The bottom line is to make sure that the text is understandable for the audience. It’s really about helping them realize the text through the voice. In addition to hearing the words, the audience gets information through the actor’s voice. It’s kind of like in movies, with the soundtrack. You hear a certain kind of music, and you know it’ll be a dangerous part of the movie, or a creepy part of the movie. Audiences react in that way to the actor’s voice. It penetrates on intellectual levels. Just like music, there are different frequencies [with the voice].

WHEN DO YOU START WORKING WITH THE ACTORS AND HOW DO YOU WORK WITH THEM?

I did a lot of work on “The Playboy of the Western World” before coming here. I had to research what the sound was of a particular part of Ireland. I listened to recordings of people from that time, and from that part of Ireland. The playwright spent a lot of time on the North Western coast of Ireland. Geography affects the sound of how people speak. It’s a very desolate part of Ireland, lots of rock, very little soil, and what’s interesting is that the sounds there are very hard, so their lips don’t move much and their jaws are tight. The consonants are really hard, like the landscape. It’s stony.

I did my research and came in and taught the actors … the sounds of this province of Ireland. … In listening to how the actors are speaking, the audience gets another layer of information.

I sent all that information and CDs out to the actors before rehearsals and was in touch with the director to know what his special needs were.

When we’re rehearsing it, I’m in the room and what happens in rehearsal is negotiation, because if [the actors] really sounded the way these people do, no one in the audience would understand what anyone was saying. So it’s picking and choosing authentic sounds, and modifying others.

ARE YOU THE DIALECT COACH ON ALL FOUR PLAYS?

passionplay4My big job is “Playboy” because of the dialect, and with all the other plays, I’m mainly listening for clarity of the text, making sure the words are understandable.

WHAT ARE THE GOALS THAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH THE ACTORS?

I’m really there to support them. And I have a voice class two times a week with the interns. I’m really there as a resource for everyone. I want to serve the play and I’m there in service of the actor and the director.

WHAT ARE A FEW OF THE KEY INGREDIENTS THAT MAKE AN ACTOR SUCCESSFUL IN A PLAY, FROM A DIALECT AND VOCAL POINT OF VIEW?

I think for me it’s the whole idea of allowing what you’re thinking and feeling to come out through the words, so that the voice is almost transparent. You don’t want to necessarily hear the voice, but you want to hear what the actor’s intention is.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s summer season runs July 19 to Sept. 2 at UC Santa Cruz, in the Festival Glen and on the Mainstage. “Endgame” opens on July 20, “Much Ado” opens on July 21, “Playboy” opens on Aug. 2 and “The Tempest” opens on Aug. 3. Ticket prices vary.

{ic_info}Visit shakespearesantacruz.com or call 459-2159.{/ic_info}

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 4

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs