September 1st, 2012: the videos are on-line now! Go here to see them. They look fabulous. There are some small errors in the credits, which will be fixed in the next few weeks.
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Filming: Day 3 (July 19)
These are Sharon’s notes; photos here are by Amy, Sharon, and Nancy (sometimes by Ada taking pictures with Nancy’s iPad, while Nancy was in a scene). Many thanks to Amy, Ada, and Nancy for these great photos!
We started this hot and steamy day off in beautiful Forest Theatre, then moved to beautiful cool Gerrard Hall for the final scene—Pseudolus C, the Fabulous Drag Kings!
Pseudolus Group E
The Pseudolus E group made very creative use of masks and costumes (which sometimes merely hung from sticks), using both Gian Giacomo’s commedia dell’arte masks and the Institute’s full-face mask. Seth played Ballio, using an actual slapstick that Ada contributed. See here for the group’s Reflections on Filming.
Ballio threatens his slaves (note the slapstick). Photo by Amy.
Ada, Gian Giacomo, Seth, Dan, Kenneth.
Ballio & the Girls. Photo by Nancy.
Seth (note the slapstick at his side), Kenneth, Ada, Dan, Gian Giacomo.
Ballio amid the girls. Photo by Nancy.
Ada, Seth, Gian Giacomo, against a backdrop of masks and veils.
The Bacchides group performed three versions: one in sung Latin (!) with masks and tunics; one in English with masks and tunics; one in English without masks. They used the same blocking for each version. You can read their blog here. The videographers’ mike, placed on stage, will not appear in the videos! Watch for Jeanne & Patrick’s dance….
Bacchides Versions 1 and 2
These two performances look identical in photographs; when the videos are available, you’ll know the difference!
The old men threaten the girls. Photo by Amy.
Ada, Daniel, Patrick, Jeanne.
The old men are acting up! Photo by Nancy.
The old men confer; the lovely young girls strike a pose. Photo by Nancy.
Bacchides Version 3
Nicobulus and Philoxenus argue, but those old boys really can’t leave the girls alone. Photo by Amy.
Ada, Daniel, Patrick, Jeanne.
The grand dance of Philoxenus and Bacchis Soror. Photo by Amy.
Patrick and Jeanne brought the house down.
Pseudolus Group E: The Drag Kings
The all-female Pseudolus E group decided on a Drag King performance, and it was a knockout—a perfect way to end filming! All but one of the photos are from Nancy’s iPad, taken by Ada.
The Drag Kings, with extras. Photo: Nancy’s iPad.
Male slaves: Angela, Meredith, Nancy; Ballio (Mimi); courtesan: Erin, Amy (with Pseudolus=Chris W. between her feet), Calidorus (Jeanne), and Phoenicium (Sophie).
Close-up (from Sharon’s fuzzy photos): Calidorus looooves Phoenicium.
Nancy’s left shoulder; Calidorus (Jeanne) and Phoenicium (Sophie).
Pseudolus boasts—he’s going to get that pimp Ballio! Photo by Nancy’s iPad.
Mimi, Chris W., Erin, Amy, Nancy, Jeanne, and Phoenicium. Note: Chris W., a beautiful and elegant woman in normal life, made a completely convincing man! (To see what she normally looks like, see here. Scroll down to the bottom for Chris as Dorippa.)
The breakout scene: Elizabeth and the rest of the group delineate the problems of the Ballio canticum. They also discuss matters of basic philology (falafel-y?). Photo by Nancy’s iPad.
Mimi, Elizabeth, Chris W., Meredith, Jeanne.
Back in action after the breakout scene. Pseudolus and Calidorus spar while the rest of the cast is frozen. Photo: Nancy’s iPad.
Mimi, Chris W., Erin, Jeanne, Amy, Nancy, Sophie.
Filming: Day 2 (July 18th). Notes by Sharon.
Today we had the great luxury of filming indoors in beautiful, cool Gerrard Hall (thank you, Mark Steffen!). We got lots of scenes done (nine!), and they were fantastic: all three versions of Eunuchus and Casina; both versions of Truculentus; plus Persa. Only an equipment failure kept us from getting the Drag Kings (Pseudolus C) filmed, too.
Temporary photos: these are from Sharon’s elderly cell phone, which does not take very good photos at any kind of distance. Better pictures will be sent to us in the next 2-3 weeks; check back later.
NOTE: this page is still in progress. I will be adding more scenes to it over the next few days. Please send me (Sharon) any photos you have that look better than these, so that I can post them here.
Eunuchus version 1—in tunics and masks
Sophie has very kindly forwarded to me some of Nancy’s excellent photos—her iPad 3 takes much better pictures than my aging iPhone. Everybody else: please send better pictures, so your scenes can look as good as the scenes from Eunuchus!
The Eunuchus group did three very different performances: one in Latin, with tunics and masks; one very 19th-century British version, in a Wildean style; and a very short modern TV sitcom style (called Family Thais). Be sure to read the Reflections on filming Eunuchus blogpost that Erin contributed.
Thais (Erin), Chremes (Kenneth), Thraso (Mark), and Gnatho (Sophie), plus the Kitchen Squadron: Tarik (behind Mark), Chris B. (behind Sophie), Seth (playing Sanga), and Dan.
Eunuchus version 2—the 1853 translation of Henry Thomas Riley
(from the Perseus website)
Pythias (Amy), Thais (Mark), and Chremes (Sophie), up against the Enemy: Tarik, Kenneth (playing Gnatho), Chris B., Seth (playing Sanga), Dan, and Erin (playing Thraso).
Chremes threatens Thraso, who is threatening to repossess Pamphila. Note Sophie’s chief weapon: a badminton racket.
Pythias (Amy), Thais (Mark), Thraso (Erin), Gnatho (Kenneth’s leg, behind Erin), Chremes (Sophie, with badminton racket), Tarik (behind Sophie), Chris B., Seth (playing Sanga), and Dan.
Eunuchus version 3—Family Thais, a modern sitcom version
Thais (Sophie), Chremes (Mark), the nerdy accountant, Gnatho (Erin), and Thraso (Kenneth). Near Sophie, off-camera, is Seth, holding a pile of cue cards for the audience: LAUGH; APPLAUD; “OOOOO.” We did.
The Casina group performed in three different types of masks: the ones made for the Institute; Amy Cohen’s full-head tragedy masks; and Gian Giacomo’s Commedia dell’arte half-face masks (an improv performance). They found that Amy’s tragic masks completely transformed the scene.
Casina Version 1: tunics and ancient-style full-face masks
This photo is courtesy of Amy Cohen—thanks, Amy!
Chalinus (Elizabeth), Cleostrata (Nancy), Lysidamus (Gian Giacomo), and Olympio (Mike Lippman).
Casina Version 2: Amy Cohen’s tragic masks
This photo is also courtesy of Amy.
Cleostrata (Nancy), Chalinus (Elizabeth), Lysidamus (Gian Giacomo), and Olympio (Mike Lippman).
Casina Version 3: Improv with Gian Giacomo’s commedia dell’arte masks
Sad to say, this is one of my fuzzy photos. If anybody has a better picture of the Improv version, please send it to me (Sharon).
Chalinus (Elizabeth), Cleostrata (Nancy), Lysidamus (Gian Giacomo), and Olympio (Mike Lippman). Cleostrata has many unusual objects stuffed inside her dress….
Persa sung in Latin
The Persists performed in Latin, to the accompaniment of Ted’s music as performed by Tony on the clarinet. There is much beating and kicking of the pimp, who gets tossed to the ground—Tarik was very game and funny. Did anybody get a good shot of Angela and Seth fake-slapping him? If so, send it to me (Sharon), so I can post it here. My shots were blurry.
The pimp on his knees….
Tibicen (Tony), Paegnium (Seth), Dordalus (Tarik), Lemniselenis (Mimi), Sagaristio (Angela), and Toxilus (Amy).
The pimp underfoot….
Sagaristio (Angela), Lemniselenis (Mimi), Dordalus (Tarik), Toxilus (Amy), Paegnium (Seth).
Truculentus was performed in both Latin and English, with Ted’s ominous, deliberately repetitive melody performed by Tony, and melodramatic organ-style chords played by Angela on the piano, during Laura’s dramatic introductions and conclusions. Meredith repeated her aria syllabus three times for a perfect take—Diniarchuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuus! (Jim Hanson)—and we were all amazed every time. Tim and Mike Lippman performed as the lorarii, the non-speaking male slaves who enforced the power of Callicles over Syra (Laura) and the ancilla (Meredith). A doubly-metatheatrical moment made us all laugh, when Callicles (Mike Katchmer) ordered the lorarii to release the two women, who were in hand-shackles (invisible handcuffs!), and Tim’s character didn’t understand: a pantomime demonstrated what he was to do, then Tim shrugged and said “I don’t know Latin!” The audience was in stitches, because of course Tim knows Latin, but we also remembered what Amy Richlin had reminded us in class—slaves in Rome might well have limited Latin.
Note: Tony and his clarinet are not visible in these shots, but will be seen in other photos (hint, hint…).
Callicles, the women, and the lorarii. (One of Amy’s photos.)
Syra (Laura Lippman), lorarius 1 (Mike Lippman), Callicles (Mike Katchmer), lorarius 2 (Tim Moore), the ancilla (Meredith).
The lorarii coercing the women, under orders from Callicles (Amy’s photo).
Mike is behind Laura; Tim is behind Meredith.
Diniarchus begging Callicles for mercy, while the lorarii go to release Syra and the ancilla (Sharon’s fuzzy photo).
Callicles’ left arm and foot (belonging to Mike Katchmer), Syra (Laura Lippman) being unchained by lorarius 1 (Mike Lippman), lorarius 2 (Tim Moore) going to unchain the ancilla (Meredith, off camera).
Filming: Day 1 (July 17) (notes by SLJ)
What a day! It was hot and steamy, but beautiful Forest Theatre stayed fairly cool. The scenes went off beautifully—and hilariously! Three versions of the Ballio canticum were performed, by Groups A (all-male, in Latin), B (Angela as Ballia; commedia masks), and D (percussion), as well as all three versions of the Mercator scene. That’s six scenes in our first day—we actually finished a little early.
The pimp’s purple tunic (completely incorrect, but so great that we didn’t care) got quite a workout, and then went home with Sharon for a thorough washing.
These photos are courtesy of Amy Cohen. Thanks, Amy!
Pseudolus D—we got the beat!
Pseudolus Group B was all percussion and hip-hop. They hopped all over the stage, right on time (at 8am!).
Ballio and his male slaves.
Ballio threatens his slaves, who are keeping time: Mike L., Jim, Patrick, Sophie, Dan.
Poor Ballio—he has to work soooo hard!
Look at Patrick tugging his crew behind him.
Ballio lectures his “girls.”
Sophie, Dan, Patrick, Mike L., Chris B. (unless that’s Chris B. and Mike L.).
Patrick and Sophie.
Calidorus & Pseudolus eavesdrop.
Steve and Nancy.
All-male (except for some borrowed “girls”), all Latin. Mike Katchmer didn’t miss a beat or a word in his performance as the evil Ballio. Be sure to check their Reflections on Filming.
Ballio berates his (male) slaves.
Mark, Mike K., Daniel.
Ballio threatens the girls.
Jeanne, Mike K., Sophie.
Ballio threatens some more girls.
Erin, Mike K., Amy. (I think Erin’s gorgeous gold getup came from Jeanne.)
Ballio lectures Hedytium, girlfriend of the grain merchants.
Mike K., Erin.
Pseudolus B: hop, hop, hop
The Pseudolus B group had a female pimp, Ballia (Angela), who hopped, somersaulted, rolled, and bounced all over. Luckily, she had a lot of padding to protect her. They used mostly commedia dell’arte masks, and changed costumes between playing male slaves and meretrices.
Ballia threatens the household slaves.
Mike L., Angela, Erin, Amy.
Ballia threatens the “girls.”
Laura (with two masks); Mike L., Erin, Angela, Amy.
The Mercator group was fast and efficient—chop, chop, chop (though none of their kitchen utensils was actually a cutting implement, let alone a knife). They put on three different versions, all in modern dress, without masks (but with two of Chris W.’s beautiful dresses!): one in Latin, and two in English (an angry Dorippa and a weepy Dorippa). They used the same blocking in all three versions, to create a tight model for pedagogical use. Chris Woodworth is not a Latinist, but her Latin sounded absolutely alive and fabulous! She is a model for us all….
Don’t miss their Reflections on Filming.
Once again, many thanks to Amy for the great photos!
Versions I and 2—they look the same
Lysiteles tries to explain; Dorippa won’t have any of it.
Chris W., Chris B.
The cooks are confused….
Steve, Dan. Note that Dan is carrying Sharon’s two-headed wooden spoon, soon to be world-famous.
Uh-oh: the cooks are making things worse for poor old Lysiteles.
Steve, Dan, Chris B., Chris W.
Version 3: Sad, Weeping Dorippa
In this version, the Mercator group experimented with the effect on the scene of an extravagantly unhappy Dorippa. Note that Chris put on a different fabulous dress, plus a light yellow sweater that matched the flowers on her box of tissues.
Chris W. and Chris B.
Day 16: July 16 – Workshop with George Fredric Franco
Today, for our final lecture session, George Fredric Franco showed us a powerpoint, clips, and dvd about performing Plautus and putting it all together in a short period of time. How do you make line decisions? What do you cut? What do you keep? How do you choose between farce and seriousness? Can Plautus *be* serious? We learned about Shakespeare’s use of Plautus and how Plautus can be transformed from farce into melodrama.
After the break we experimented with shape and character in an interactive workshop with Franco acting out and demonstrating movement.
Day 15: July 13 – Workshop with John Starks
Today John Starks showed up clips from a UNC performance of Poenulus (featuring our own Cecil Wooten as the Prologus!). We followed these clips with question and answer from our participants. Everyone has butterflies as we move into our final days of rehearsal before videotaping next week!
Day 14: Workshop with Anne Groton
Anne Groton gave a humorous paper on staging Pseudolus and Menaechmi for K-12 students in Minnesota high schools, using stuffed animals, musical numbers, and shortening the scenes, occasionally even dropping some out! We then watched the 50 minute production of her Pseudolus with a moose theme. Anne Groton’s production is half-scripted (by the actors), half-improve (at the time of performance), all-Plautus. The actors don’t work together until dress rehearsal. They make up their lines and then throw them off one another and hope things work. Thus the performances change with the venue, as some things work, others don’t. Our participants then commented on this production. Much noted was ‘the sense of joy in the performance’.
Today we laid out all of the costumes and masks and asked the groups to make selections for the filming of their scenes.
Today we watched watched scenes from Beachum’s Casina, and discussed our reactions to his rendition. We then watched scenes from Richlin and Gamel’s Iran Man (Persa), and explored audience reactions to the changed ending, which skewed the play dramatic, depressing, and sad rather than humorous. Finally the participants saw highlights from another Eunuchus, with the ending changed to finish somewhat sad and poignant. The session participants stayed for scheduling logistics while the serva currens dashed off on a props run. It’s all coming together!
Day 12: Practical and Theoretical Issues in Modern Performance
Today Mary-Kay Gamel discussed the issues involved in trying to stage ancient plays for modern audiences. We learned about some of the issues involved in publishing and talking about performance, and the limits of traditional print when writing about performance. During the second half of our morning session we watched a video with Richard Beacham documenting the experiment of staging a Roman Comedy (Miles Gloriosus). We then watched another video of the same scene in Eunuchus that our participants acted out yesterday, but without a live audience within the video. This lack of engaged audience changed the nature of the performance and the effect of the scene; it becomes much creepier without responses or playing to the audience, and our participants noted that Chaerea came off as a sociopath. Our participants were asked to share their feelings after this performance, and compare their reactions to yesterday’s performance, the looking at the differences taught us an important lesson about the function of metatheatre and the audience.