These YouTube Videos Are Part of my Libretto

There aren’t any words, but they’re part of a script, not a performance. I’ve talked before about the dumbshow at the beginning of Summer’s Twilight. I don’t want to write a vamp with a few sound effects to be played underneath the mime. I want to score the physical beats of the scene, moment for moment, so that the action onstage and the music are tied together completely.

I could do that alone, imagining everything in my head. But theater’s funny. Once you get it up on its feet it’s a completely different animal. So I did something odd. I got a bunch of actors, a director, a choreographer, two cameras and lunch together one Saturday. And we rehearsed just those scenes. We experimented, changed, explored the characters, and came up with these videos here. They aren’t finished films, or even finished performances – we had 1 rehearsal. But they do tell the story I wanted to tell for these two scenes. I may change the timing to speed things up a little, and I may tweak a few of the gestures, but what I have to work with now is a video libretto for two of my mime sequences.

These two scenes happen before the play proper begins. We’re getting a look at both couples as they were before the plot happens. The four of them have gone off into the woods for a “picnic”, and then both couples go off on their own to… well… you know… canoodle. In these two videos Puck had the curly hair, and is watching what the humans are up to…

Wait, was that a pair of handcuffs?

Yes, that was a pair of handcuffs. We’ve created a motivation for Demetrius. Yes, we’ve created it out of thin air. Where else would we find one?

In the play, Demetrius spurns Helena and tries to force Hermia to marry him for… some… reason. She’s pretty, I guess. In this version, Demetrius is a stuffed up prude. And Helena, being a little more adventurous when they’re off canoodling in the woods, spooks him. That’s why he runs off and tries to get Hermia.

This way Demetrius has a motivation other than being randomly evil, Helena’s character is all set up for “use me as your spaniel” and, we hope, you can finally tell the four lovers apart! That’s not usually a feature of productions of Midsummer.

Here’s a final bit of video, that didn’t make it into the final run we did of the Helena/Demetrius scene, but I think will be useful as I actually start to compose this passage:

So…. whaddya think?

Funny? Convincing take on Midsummer? Good structure for the scenes? How about the crappy Cat Stevens I was playing in the background for mood music?

5 Responses

  1. Sara Eileen says:

    Watching these videos made me realize that we have more people in common – undoubtedly through Rose.

    In re: your motivation for Demetrius…complicated. Complicated as in it’s hard to write about why that seems to make not so much sense. On a superficial level it *does* make sense, but as a character analysis that would carry through in a full staging of the play, it seems to run up against some of the script; namely, that Demetrius and Helena have slept together before, and that Demetrius is implied to be something of a rogue.

    I could go on, but I am sort of bubbling over with thoughts and have realized that I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish with this interpretation, and therefore lack context for why inserting this motivation makes sense.

    Chance that I am over-thinking this because as an openly kinky person I find kink-squick motivations personally problematic: 1000%

  2. Kevin says:

    Sara – yeah. Rose built most of the team that did this.

    Let’s speak much more about this! If we can get it to the point where you buy into it, I know everyone else will too.

    Hear that, everyone else?

  3. Sara Eileen says:

    Oh Kevin, no. I am a terrible litmus test for “everybody else.” Don’t let’s go down that road.

    However, we can put this topic on the agenda for drinks tomorrow and I will attempt to be more articulate.

  4. Kevin says:

    I’m not saying you’re representative. I’m saying you liking it is harder than everyone else. I like your plan.

  5. Kevin says:

    Talking to Sara IRL we got to this idea, which I’m writing here so I don’t forget it:

    It makes sense that Demetrius might get spooked – he’s fifteen and just had a surprising encounter with whips and handcuffs. But Helena’s fifteen too. She probably isn’t as confident with that stuff as we have her in that video above. Good point, Sara!

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