Austin Shakespeare’s Cyrano de Bergerac plays the Long Center November 19- December 7th in the Rollins Studio Theatre. Assistant Director Christine Long took to our blog to describe putting on this production, preparing for opening night, and falling in love with the theatre,
Bringing a play to life is like writing a love letter. To write a love letter, you must first determine what you want to achieve by writing the letter (The director choosing the play.) You must decide how to present your feelings; how to present your best self in its purest form (Casting.) Finally, with pen to paper, the letter is written and the narrative is complete (Blocking of movement and rehearsals.) You read your letter, and you read it, and, yes, you read it once more (Numerous run-throughs.) You make changes to perfect the verse (Scene work.) The ink dries, and the paper is folded, just so. The letter is ready to be delivered. With a nervous excitement, the letter is delivered to the one that holds your heart (Opening night.)
It’s Wednesday night. Austin Shakespeare’s Cyrano de Bergerac has been in rehearsal for two weeks and one day. We are officially halfway through the rehearsal process. The costumes, scenery and swordplay are quickly coming together. On this night, Marc Pouhé (Cyrano de Bergerac) and Keith Paxton (Christian) are working on a scene with director Ann Ciccolella. In the scene, Cyrano is trying to convince Christian to allow him to write the love letters that Roxanne has requested of Christian. Christian loves Roxanne, and though he is blessed with good looks, he has no talent for putting feelings into words.
CHRISTIAN: “I am one of those—I know—those men who never can speak love.”
CYRANO: “I’ll be your cloak of darkness, your enchanted sword, your ring to charm the fairy princess.”
Cyrano pulls a letter from his jacket for Christian to give to Roxanne.
The scene ends and the actors and director discuss the moment. This discussion includes questions to determine what Christian wants from Cyrano and what Cyrano wants from Christian and how both gentlemen are going to achieve their goals. These questions bring truth to character development. The actor can flesh out the reason their character is doing what they are doing. The portrayals develop into a gorgeous blend of the intentions of the character and the soul of the individual playing the role. This gives the contemporary audience a real person to watch, with real desires, created from a text written in 1897.
The beauty of Austin Shakespeare is that the ensemble strives for truth in the telling of these classic tales such as Cyrano de Bergerac. These contemporary actors create an experience to which any audience can relate.
I fall in love with this story over and over again every night.