Scapin: A Journal of Rehearsals
Fultz, David L.
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The decision to do an independent project in directing was taken in my freshman year, other opportunities offered themselves in the subsequent years but were always discarded in favor of directing. What the play would be and how I would attack it did not develop until the summer and fall of 1973 when: 1) circumstances dictated that I do some hard thinking on the subject; and 2) I had had enough time to persuade myself that I could do it. In the fall the choice of plays finally came down to Scapin (Les Fourberies de Scapin) by Moliere and Tango by Slawomir Mrozek. The final decision to do Scapin rested on several considerations. Tango is an extremely difficult play, requiring a sustained analysis by the director and extremely intense and perceptive acting. I did not feel up to the task of directing it because of my relative inexperience in this field and the awareness that the Dalton production would require a large number of actors; thus leaving only the more inexperienced actors for the Dungeon. Scapin although it had a larger cast than Tango did not make the same demands on the actors and director. It is pure farce in the tradition of the Commedia dell'Arte, and farce because of its broad characterization, is easier for novice actors to handle. However, this does not make it an easy play, comedy has its own special problems that in some ways are more difficult than serious drama.. Even if the characters are broad, they must be believable; and the actors must call on their own resources instead of digging further in the text. For in farce there isn't anything further in the text. During the summer I became acquainted with same of Peter Brook's latest research, this led me to think of splitting the rehearsal period into two parts. The first section would be spent on various physical exercises and improvisatory work based on Scapin; and the second would be the rehearsal of the play itself. Hopefully the first section would run into the second without any break and furnish the actors with a base to work from. As it turned out this approach was only partially successful; yet there were some good developments that arose from it. The concept of environmental staging came from some of my first impressions of the play. It seemed, after several readings, that Scapin is the only free individual in the play; all the others both old and young alike are blinded by their compulsions: love, avarice, honor. And that the way to express this situation was by scattering platforms about the Dungeon, with Scapin moving freely from one to the other while the other characters would be forced to move only in designated pathways. The staging and the method in which I would express the central concept of the play changed in its particulars over the rehearsal period but their basic shape remained. There were several times when they seemed to need reevaluation but invariably whatever alternatives suggested themselves were the original concept in another guise. What follows is the record of the rehearsal period: the actors problems, my problems, OUR problems.