- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 22 February 2017
- Written by ANNA BLAINE | STAFF WRITER
If any avid theatergoers are curious about the process of making a stage play, I recommend going to see an open rehearsal at Two River Theater in Red Bank. Having free open rehearsals for upcoming productions has been a way to welcome the Monmouth County community. This is an event that Two River Theater has opened to the public in the past and this tradition continues.
Last week on Monday, I had the opportunity to see the director, cast and crew rehearse for The Merry Wives of Windsor play followed by a Q&A with the audience. The most rewarding thing that I learned from watching this rehearsal is that it takes a lot of time, patience and effort to put on a performance. It is incredible to see the kind of work ethic and dedication that actors, directors and crew members have because they do what they do non-stop. They live and breathe art and it shows through their passion for it.
The creative process of The Merry Wives of Windsor is interesting when you realize that only three actors, Nicole Lewis, Jason O’Connell, and Zuzanna Szadkowski, will be headlining the show. They will be playing several characters and switching between characters during scenes. The concept sounds pretty wacky, but the director Eric Tucker put the audience at ease by comparing his version of the classic play to a Coen Brothers film or a Quentin Tarantino film. In his words, “It takes place in a dingy, seedy motel room.”
The stage was set up to look like a motel room, with two twin beds and a nightstand, although a lot of the atmosphere was left to the imagination of the actors. Since the set was unfinished, it was a little difficult to gauge what the actors were trying to convey during some of the scenes, such as the lack of props onstage. From a viewer’s perspective, it is strange to see an actor holding an invisible cup or sitting on a chair that is supposed to be a toilet during a rehearsal, but the actors are dedicated to the performance so it gives a lot of insight into what the craft of acting is. It’s a transformative art form.
I was most impressed by the last scene the actors performed. Master Ford thinks his wife is cheating on him with Falstaff so there are all these accusations as he barges into the motel room thinking that he will catch his wife’s infidelity. Simultaneously, the actress (Szadkowski) is switching between playing Master Ford and Mistress Page in the scene. Her mannerisms and voice changes were interesting. I liked that the roles were gender neutral as well. Actresses can play a male character and actors can play a female character, which is unique with three cast members playing multiple roles.
Another aspect about watching rehearsals is to see the director give out cues to the actors to enrich the scene. In return, the actors would also tell the director certain things they can change to add to the scenes or characters. It was a collaborative relationship between the cast and director. Keeping in mind that this play is an updated version of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, the language and the jokes was one of the challenges for the director. Tucker explained his vision for re-imagining the archaic jokes. He edits and rearranges scenes based on what the actors can handle. An idea he shared was to introduce an old, taxidermy squirrel named “Little Robin” that pops up in different scenes to add modernity to the jokes. John Dias, the artistic director at Two River Theater, talked about creating intimacy on the stage to make the play more relatable. He said, “The idea is that we wanted this play to be like a canvas, shrinking it down to make it more intimate for the audience.”
The Merry Wives of Windsor will begin showing this Saturday, Feb. 25; the opening night performance is Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m.
IMAGE TAKEN from www.welovebrighton.com