Wednesday, January 18, 2006

S&C: Day 20

Day 20 was "Elizabeathan World View Day." A lot of fun. In the morning, we did a long exercise--a little over three hours--with Karen Beaumont, in which we more or less enacted the evolution of man from the stage of hardly-formed, multicell sea creatures, to starfish, to fish, to land animal, to biped, to modern man. Sounds goofy, but I actually got a lot out of it. In particular, I found that as I moved through stages of evolution, my survival and mating tactics dramatized the tactics I use today, in my personal life. I keep quiet, move with some stealth--observing potential predators--bond with small--rather than large--tribes, and bond with others by being a supportive, 'mothering' presence, rather than acting as fierce hunter-gatherer. A fierce mother.

This exercise led us to a moment in which, as modern men and women, we felt in ourselves and in the room the atavistic urges and their expressions as they still lived in us, individually and as a group. At that point, after a pee break, we all lined ourselves up in the theater according to the status of our character in the scene were working on, for presentation next Monday. All the merchants and nobles and kings had to sort themselves out, figuring out how their social rank or given circumstances gave or took away status, in their scenes. For instance, Antonio, from MEASURE FOR MEASURE, had a reasonably high position as a minor noble, but had to go aaaaaaaaaallllllll the way to the bottom of the ladder because the poor sot was in jail. At the top of the ladder stood Cleopatra, at the bottom, Antonio. I thought I would be about mid-way through the pack, given that Friar Lawrence is confessor to the children of both Verona's leading--and feuding--families, but it transpired that my vow of poverty put me only a few slots above Antonio, just above the self-mortifying nuns. Standing in a line, according to status, we dramatized in tableau the "Great Chain of Being." Then we went to lunch, in order of status, and I was lucky there was any left.

In the afternoon, David Demke discussed for a while the Elizabethean understanding of the elements and humours. After that, we gathered in the theater for a lovely, and moving, afternoon of sharing our sonnets with the entire group. A few of the faculty read from works that moved them. Tina Packer did Cleopatra. Mind blowingly. Then, we danced. And then we quit for the week. And then a bunch of us went out for a steak dinner in a birthday celebration for one of our number. And then, I got pretty trashed, at the bar.

Sigh. I'm glad I have the day off.


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