Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Amazing "Tempest" Moment

I want to write about the whole process of scoring The Tempest in the style of American Roots music with trash percussion before the show opens, but this morning I only have time to share a brief story.

Friday night we had our first spacing rehearsal on the stage at Agecroft Hall. Very rough work at times, on an unfinished stage, with entire platforms still missing from the unfinished bleachers, with just a few worklights to see by as the sun set. I was sitting with my guitars extreme stage right, off the stage and nearly against the wall of the building. The whole cast and crew were either onstage, backstage, or in the house watching.

No one else could see what I saw. Only I had the right angle.

As the sun set and the sky darkened, flashes of distant lightning began to light the northern sky as a line of thunderstorms approached. For over an hour, I sat in my place watching Stephen Lorne Williams' Prospero tell Liz Blake's Miranda the story of their banishment to the island, justifying why he has raised the tempest. All the while, the storm grew nearer and nearer, the flashes brighter and more frequent past Prospero's head. When the thunder grew audible, it was almost too much to bear. Here was Prospero, in the form of this dignified old British actor, standing in front of me with his staff, summoning spirits to raise a storm, with the actual storm casting lightning like haloes around his head.

When the rain came, cutting off the last 90 minutes of our spacing work, the fun kind of ended. But I told director Anthony Luciano, "After watching what I watched tonight, I don't even need to perform this for an audience to be satisfied."

...Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't come. Maybe there will be a cool lightning storm for you, as well.

I'll take pictures at tonight's spacing rehearsal.

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  • At 6/10/2007 10:38 AM , Blogger Frank Creasy said...

    I know I'm going to be in for a long week at Agecroft Hall. I know I had to be persuaded to take a role in this production after expressing doubts about whether or not it was the right role for me, or the right project at this particular time. But we all make mistakes or bad choices at times, and had I declined this would have been a big mistake.

    This may not turn out to be the definitive "Tempest" production, or the best production ever staged by Richmond Shakespeare (though it COULD be, I'm not sure). But no matter what, I've learned from my experiences at Agecroft Hall that there is something truly magical about performing at that place. And even before we got there Friday, I was seeing things in rehearsals that truly, honestly EXCITED me about the work I saw from my fellow actors and our director in this production (not to mention the MUSIC, though I expected wonderful things from Andre Wham!)

    I don't know who will see this posting, or who among them are Richmonders. But people, take my word on this one, and not just because I'm in this production: Put on your bug spray, pack a picnic dinner, come out early and see "The Tempest" at Agecroft Hall. I think you'll be in for a special evening of theatre.

  • At 6/11/2007 4:47 PM , Anonymous Kate said...

    now, THAT, sounds superb.

  • At 7/11/2007 11:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Your storm story remindes me of a preformance of "Balshazzar's Feast" many years ago when a crashing thunder storm came up outside just as the bass was singing the handwriting on the wall. It was an old auditorium with windows and the storm was very easy to hear even over the orchestra.


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