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Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
At Boskone, I was part of a staged reading of Jo Walton's "Tam Lin", a delightfully convoluted fanfic mixture of William Shakespeare, Bujold's Barrayar, and Pamela Dean's novel version. It's both an adaptation of the ballad and a sorta-kinda a sequel to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I played Robin Goodfellow, who is not quite as Puck-ish in this play as formerly (though he still has a great deal of silly business, including an infamous scene of ladders and flirtation). Though Janet-saving-Thomas is in some sense the central plot, Puck's growing world-weariness ends up being the critical element that brings the play to a (mostly) happy ending. Hence, I got to exercise my hamminess in both comical and tragical modes, and had a blast.

The play was co-directed by CHip and Davey, and also featured Jane Yolen as the Fairy Queen, negothick as the village wench who Robin falls in love with, and Michael/Christian as Thomas, among others.

The audience appeared to have a blast as well. Lots of laughs, thunderous applause at the end, and lots of direct personal praise. The author seemed amazed and pleased that I had managed to convey both the comedy and seriousness of the character as needed; I, in turn, thanked her for giving me such wonderful speeches to work with. Davey reminded me afterwards that the role had previously been performed by Mike Ford, and in tones which suggested that she thought I was a worthy successor, in at least this small way.

Now, on to herooftheage's production of Henry V, in which I will be playing Exeter, Fluellen, and probably miscellaneous bit parts. Early rehearsals are promising, and suggest it will be a really good show by the time we go live in June.

Interesting observation on Shakespearean writing: One of the hardest parts of working on Tam Lin was figuring out where to breathe. Robin has lots of very long, intricate sentences, which really do contain a single (if complex) thought, so ought not to be broken up by pauses. So I worked hard at putting in half-breaths unobtrusively where I could, which took a lot of experimentation. Fluellen in H5 also has lots of long sentences that clearly should not be broken up by pauses. But in our very first read-through, without any preparation, I was able to read them straight through with no difficulty at all. Fluellen's speech patterns include a lot of apparently-random interjections -- yet they are not nearly as random as they seem; they naturally enforce partial breaths on the person saying the line, at just the moments when he needs to do so. Yet another example of Shakespeare's subtle brilliance.

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Since I started taking voice lessons in December, I've been really astonished at how much they have helped my singing in ways I didn't particularly anticipate. My teacher started out with breathing (from the belly) and showed how you can use this to give extra support when it's needed. In singing, I find this happens when I'm at the extremes of my range, or when I'm dealing with a very long phrase that must (or should) be done in a single uninterrupted line without breathing. I can't always do it, but I'm getting better. I never thought of this as being a problem in acting, but clearly it can be, and it's great that you recognize this and find a way to deal with it.

Check with herooftheage, but in Fluellen's case those half-breaths and "random interjections" may also be intended to parody a "Welsh" way of speaking, along with the florid lengthy sentences at the most inappropriate of moments.

Silly Accents are a vital part of this production :-) Even in the first read-through, the Fluellen/Macmorris interchanges brought the house down.

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your performance in Tam Lin. And was that an iPhone you were using to cue your lines?

Thank you!

A Treo 700P, actually. I've been using it as an e-book reader for years now, so was well used to reading from it. And having my script in electronic, editable form made it possible for me to easily reformat the lines to cue breaths (see above).

You were supposed to say "No: it was my special Elvish Communicator, direct line to Elfland."

Let me join the chorus of praise for your performance. I never saw Mike play the part and therefore can't offer a comparison, but you (and everyone else) were great. Tam Lin was very much the high point of an already excellent con.

(As an inveterate e-book reader, I was both pleased and amused by your choice of medium for the script.)

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