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Notes here are by Sharon.
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.
Lorarius 1 (Mike Lippman), Syra (Laura Lippman), the ancilla (Meredith), lorarius 2 (Tim Moore).
Diniarchus begging Callicles for mercy, while the lorarii go to release Syra and the ancilla.
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).
Everybody watches as Diniarchus beseeches Callicles, who is about to set terms for his forgiveness. (Photo: Nancy’s iPad.)
Laura, Mike L., Tim, Meredith, Jim, Mike K.
Session 9: July 12
It was our first rehearsal in Gerrard (aka the meat locker), and we spent some time working out our staging. The space works very well for us. We worked through the English version, and then went to the Latin musical version, since Anne Groton was there but had to leave, and we wanted her to hear it. It was nice to have a few people in the room responding to what we’d done – we seem to be achieving the impact we desire. Since we had already determined that we would use our scores for the Latin version, we had to decide how best to do that – whether in a “concert” version, or with the same basic blocking as the English version. We tried the latter, and it seemed to work well; we then had to work out all of the breaks in the music with the clarinetist (who, by the way, is both an excellent player and very accommodating), which took up most of the last part of the rehearsal. We got through most of it, planning to finish it at the next rehearsal.
Session 8: July 11
The Truculentus group continued “trucking” along today. We ran the English version twice, adding more refinements and getting a good sense of the flow. We timed a run-through, and it came out to be around 10 minutes. The highlight of the day, though, was the opportunity to work with our superb “tibicen” – i.e., the clarinetist. It was very rewarding after all our work to put it together with the music; we read/sang the whole thing through, and then worked on several parts. We played around with tempo, finding that the piece flows along much better with a somewhat faster beat. The most important decision made today was to do a “concert” version of the scene, thus obviating the need to memorize every last syllable of the Latin. While this will obviously limit the action, it will result in a much clearer and cleaner performance. We will work out ways in which to convey the basic movement in the scene, largely through gesture. A good time was had by all.
Session 7: July 9
The Truculentus group had a very intensive and productive session today. We first worked through the scene in the English version, and really started to find and refine the tone and flow. We’re finding that our decision to use melodrama is bearing much fruit; it captures the thrust of the original beautifully, and helps take the sadistic Callicles down a notch or two in status, thus softening to a significant degree his ill-treatment of the women (that’s the hope, anyway). We worked out some physical comedy bits that should be very effective. We were able to relate the morning’s session on metatheatre directly to our work – we definitely have some theatrically self-conscious moments, to use Niall Slater’s definition. He was present for part of our rehearsal, and seemed appreciative of what we were doing. The remainder of our session was given over to working on the Latin; it’s coming together, but it’s definitely a challenge for us non-Latinistas. We gave special attention to the tricky exchanges in which one character picks up the metered, melodic line from another midway through, and passes it back just as quickly. The next step is to put the blocking from the English version into the Latin text. Overall, we’re starting to see things come together, and it’s very exciting!
Today the group started work at 1:30 and ended after 4:00.
We began by working on our English version of the scene with a revised translation provided by Meredith. In addition to her revisions in the performance text, Meredith included between the lines the Latin text and a literal translation for the group’s non-Latinists. Great work Meredith!
Laura, our director, had sent links to clips from The Carol Burnett Show and Beyond Therapy to help us with the over-the-top style that we are going for. Starting with Laura’s basic blocking, we put the English scene on its feet and worked on it for over an hour.
After working on the English scene we worked on the music for the Latin scene. An intense weekend of work lies ahead for us as we continue to learn the Latin lyrics and the intricacies of the music’s rhythmic patterns.
Session 5 (July 3)
After several days of working on the musical Latin version of our scene, our group addressed our alternative English version. We let ourselves loose to explore different comic approaches; the melodrama of soap operas was the approach that found the most favor. A good time was had by all.
Session 4 (June 29)
The Truculentus group spent our fourth meeting with Ted in a music practice room, running through the score and focusing on passages in which one character has to pick up quickly from another in the middle of the tune.
Session 3 (June 28)
Issues of plot, motivation, character, and status shifts within the scene occupied the majority of today’s meeting for the Truculentus group. Since we’re only working with one scene that occurs late in the play, we talked a bit about how the audience might have been prepared for the entrance of Callicles, who appears only in this scene. By contrast Diniarchus, who functions mostly as the character who speaks “aside” here, is a major character who goes through a big transition in this scene. Much discussion concerned the tone of the scene, which is dominated by Callicles as socially the highest in status, but in the middle the Maid starts to talk back to her master. Meredith felt this suggested an important shift in status (a concept Toph introduced yesterday), but not one motivated on the page. She suggested that the Hairdresser, who has less reason to fear Callicles, might mock him by aping his gestures behind his back, thereby transferring some of her assertiveness to the Maid, who in turn is responsible for pushing Diniarchus to come fully into the scene and assert his responsibility for impregnating Callicles’ daughter. This would also permit some comic tone to be introduced into the scene. Mike felt strongly that this was not appropriate due to his comparison of the Latin version to a Verdi opera; we discussed tone, pacing, and mood for Callicles. Laura suggested that since we need variations, we see what comes of rehearsal; she also reminded us that we need to think about how we want to cast Callicles’ two strongmen; whether those are large or small men would also suggest tone for the scene. We ended the session by working on music, with Jim using his keyboard app to coach us on melody and meter.
Session 2 (June 27)
At our second meeting, the Truculentus group tackled the task of learning the Latin text, set to music composed by Ted. After wrestling with the changing time signature for a bit, Jim determined how to mark time consistently throughout the changes by sticking to eighth-notes, and the group set about sounding out the Latin in trochaic septenarii, which Ted had marked in the score with conventional musical notation. Despite some stumbles in attempting to coordinate both Latin pronunciation and meter, we got through most of the scene once, and Jim downloaded a keyboard app onto his iPad so that we could incorporate the music into future practice sessions.Tim listened in with excitement. When Sander came to sit in, we talked a bit about the impact of elision on audience comprehension of the text, and determined that since a Latin-speaking audience would have been following the plot, no critical meaning would be lost when a vowel indicating gender in a case ending is elided.