My name is Marianna Moynihan and I am currently a freshman at Mary Baldwin College. I am in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, which has allowed me to start my college education at fourteen years old. I love nothing so much as to learn and my favorite thing in the world is language. I speak French, Spanish, English, and Haitian Kreyol fluently and some beginning Italian. I absolutely love words (hence the Shakespeare) so that will be the main topic of the majority of what I share with you on this wonderful jam-packed-with-knowledge blog.
You cannot even fathom how excited I am to be an intern at the ASC. I am honored to be working with and around the American Shakespeare Center’s genius minds. I hope to share with you all I learn along with a deep appreciation for Shakespeare and his beautiful words.
Since seventh grade, in my hometown of Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti (just outside of Port-au-Prince), I have been helping in the production of many plays at my secondary school. The maternal language of Haiti is Kreyol and its official language is French, so obviously we could not successfully portray the beauty of Shakespeare’s works to a Haitian audience in Elizabethan English. My English speaking director would read the script line by line, explain it to me, and I would translate her explanation into Kreyol and relay it to the actors. This kept me from ever really being in touch with Shakespeare’s actual words on paper or in my own native language.
Now, sitting in a rehearsal of Pericles: Prince of Tyre, I feel I could never be closer. Allison Glenzer, pacing round the stage, runs through her lines, pronouncing each wonderful syllable, consonant, and vowel in the exact voice where she feels her character “lives.” (I attended a voice workshop wherein she taught me and my peers the Linklater Progression which is most fascinating—but that’s another story for another blog entry.)
What I have particularly noticed sitting through this rehearsal is how Shakespeare indicates the setting in the text; the characters almost always mention it in the first few lines of the scene. Such as:
Act I, Scene iii THALIARD: So this is Tyre, and this the court.
Act II, Scene i FIRST FISHERMAN: Well, I’ll tell you: this place is called Pentapolis…
Act III, Prologue Gower: In your imagination hold this stage the ship…
Thaliard, played by Chris Johnson, sneaks onstage and immediately notifies the audience of where he is—and, thus, where the audience is, too.
Pericles, played by Gregory Jon Phelps, after being washed ashore, meets three fisherman. He has no idea of his whereabouts, and neither does the audience until a kind fisherman notifies him.
Gower, a sort of narrator but at the same time a spectator, asks the audience to imagine that the stage is a ship.
So you can see that since Shakespeare didn’t have the blackout at the end of his scenes to change the set and lights, he very cleverly dropped it into the text to aid the audience in imagination. He also rarely used explicit stage directions, except for entering and exiting, so he dropped clues for action and emotion deftly into the text as well—but that’s a most fascinating story that I must stow away for a better time, in another blog entry.
-Marianna Francesca Moynihan