Here let us breathe and haply institute / A course of learning and ingenious studies.
Hello and welcome, one and all, to the Folger Theatre Production Diary. I’m Thomas Keegan, and I play Lucentio in Folger Theatre’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Aaron Posner. You may also remember me from the Folger’s recent production of Othello, where I played Cassio. For the next 10 or more weeks, I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening with Shrew as we move from the first day in the rehearsal room through to the final performance. Speaking of first rehearsals, we had our big Day One of Shrew rehearsals this past Tuesday.
Day Ones are always pretty fun and easy-going. Some people were meeting each other for the first time, many people were reuniting with old friends and colleagues, and everyone was excited to start working on a new project. Our group is especially fortunate, as Aaron has assembled a talented bunch. After hands were shaken, hugs exchanged, and the first cups of coffee consumed, we all sat down for the design presentation.
This meeting is a chance for each of the design teams to show the rest of the cast and crew how they are helping to shape this world. Our costume designer, Helen Huang, showed us beautiful renderings—drawings of what we’ll look like—and templates of the influences she used to create and build the costumes. Our set designer, Tony Cisek, was unable to attend the presentation. However, he has already been hard at work, designing, building, and, indeed, installing the set in the theater. The cast was delighted to learn this, and we even got to see a picture of the set on which we will start working, this week. We also heard briefly from the lighting and sound designers (Jennifer Schriever and Christopher Baine, respectively), who discussed their plans to integrate light & darkness, sounds & silence into our show. Aaron’s production of The Taming of the Shrew will include original music by the talented Cliff Eberhardt, who played through his compositions during the subsequent “first read-through.”
The first reading is always exciting: it’s our first look at who exists in this new world, what they look like, sound like, and what happens to them. This one was no exception. The reading was fun, informative, inspiring, and set the tone for the process of creating an inventive, cohesive production. After the first read through was over, we sat down as a cast and discussed some of what we’d learned during the reading, questions that arose, and plans for how to cultivate the most productive process possible. After this short meeting, we broke for dinner. When we returned, it was time to start staging the play. Well, that just about sums up Day One here at the Folger. Stay tuned for more on the staging process. Keep checking back for updates on rehearsals, costumes, fights, set, and more!