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Monday, August 15, 2011

Coriolanus Run-down

So, I may have mentioned before that I am directing a staged reading of The Tragedy of Coriolanus.
Tomorrow. (I know. I suck at self-promotion.)
It's been an interesting process, I've only known I was doing it since the first part of July, so we have been working on a very abbreviated schedule - even for a staged reading. Plus, this is one of Shakespeare's plays with which not a lot of people are familiar. I'm not sure why that is. It's a really good play. I'm drawn to it because I personally identify very strongly with the title character. (Come to the reading and see if you can figure out why.)
Before I forget, here are the details:
August 16, 7pm at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion at 770 Pennsylvania. Tickets are $10 cash at the door. (It's a fund-raiser for the Byers-Evans Theatre Company and they aren't set up to take credit cards just yet.)
The cast:
Caius Marcius Coriolanus - Randy Diamon
Menenius - Eric Field
Aufidius - Doug Tisdale
Volumnia - Karen Krause
Sicinius - Matt Channing
Brutus - Russ Nielsen
Cominius - Dave Cuomo
Virgilia - Melissa Huff
Lartius - Paul Stuko
Valeria - Anita Harkess

What a talented and devoted cast! Again, this has been a really different experience. The thing about being fortunate enough to have talented performers for your reading is that, because they're talented, they're in pretty high demand. We have had to rehearse much of the play out of order depending upon who was available to rehearse and when. I have to say, I am absolutely astounded at how well this play is coming together. That speaks to the talent and commitment of this cast, and I really hope that you can come see and hear them tell this story.
Now, last night, I asked the cast members present if there was anything I could do to help make Tuesday's performance go as smooth as possible. Now, the first request of a $2500 stipend I could not accommodate, but the second request of a scene-by-scene synopsis was a really good idea. As I said, we have been rehearsing out of order quite a bit, so a chronological synopsis would definitely help to put things in the proper context. So, I sat down this morning and wrote one, which I e-mailed to the actors. They seemed to like it quite a bit, and even asked if we could make it the program for the reading.
Well, I don't know about that, but I guess I could at least share it here on my blog. (I have no idea if this will read the same for you as it did for them because of the context):

The Tragedy of Coriolanus
Scene synopsis

Act I, Scene 1
Plebians riot over food. Menenius calms them down. Caius Marcius comes in, blows it. Loudly. D’oh!
Messenger arrives with news of war. Goody, goody! Caius Marcius like war!

Act I, Scene 2
Aufidius like war, too! Goody, goody!

Act I, Scene 3
Caius Marcius’s house
Virgilia and Volumnia sew. Volumnia like war. Virgilia no like war.
Enter Valeria. “Woohoo! War! Dead butterflies! Let’s go get ice cream.”
Volumnia: “Rocky Road!”
Virgilia: “Lactose intolerant.”

Act I, Scene 4
Before Corioli
Caius Marcius: “We will defeat the Volsces!”
Roman Soldiers: “What you mean ‘we,’ kemosabe?”
Caius runs into Corioli: “Leeeeeeroy Jeeeenkins!”
Lartius: “Hey, where’s Caius?”

Act I, Scene 5
Corioli. A street.
Roman soldiers looty, loot, loot.
Caius and Lartius are not amused.

Act I, Scene 6
Near Cominius’s camp
Cominius: “Caius did what? That’s awesome!”
Enter Caius
Cominius: “Where ya been?”
Caius: “Kickin’ butt.”
Cominius: “Take a break?”
Caius: “Nope. Gonna go kick Aufidius’s butt.”
Cominius: “Rock on!”
Caius: “Who wants to go with me to go kick some butt?”
Soldiers: “Butt!”

Act I, Scene 7:
The gates of Corioli
Lartius: “We’re kickin’ butt. Still, watch your butt.”
Lieutenant: “Butt watched, sir!”
Lartius: “Go away.”

Act I, Scene 8:
A field of battle
Caius vs. Aufidius
Caius: “I’m gonna kick your butt.”
Aufidius: “No, I’m gonna kick your butt.”
Volsces: “Aufidius is getting his butt kicked. Let’s get in there.”
Aufidius: “Noooooooo!”

Act I, Scene 9:
The Roman camp
Cominius: “Wow, Caius! You walked into Corioli and kicked their anus! Hey, I just thought of a nickname . . .”
Caius: “Please don’t.”

Act I, Scene 10:
The camp of the Volsces
Aufidius: “That guy really kicked my butt. I hate that guy.”

Act II, Scene 1
We kicked their butts! We kicked their butts!
Volumnia and Menenius: “27 scars! 27 scars!”
Virgilia: “You people are so weird.”
Cominius enters with Coriolanus.
Cominius: “Check this guy out!”
Virgilia and Coriolanus: “Islands in the stream, that is what we are.”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Oooooh, I hate that rabbit!”

Act II, Scene 2
Rome, The capitol
Cominius: “Let’s talk about how awesome Coriolanus is!”
Coriolanus: “I’ll be outside.”
Cominius: “ When the Boogeyman goes to sleep at night, he checks under his bed for Coriolanus.”
Senators: “Ooooooo.”
Cominius: “Coriolanus doesn’t read books, he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them.”
Senators: “Ooooooooo.”
Cominius: “Coriolanus counted to infinity – twice.”
Senators: “Oooooooooooooooo.”
Coriolanus: “Are you done?”
Senators: “Coriolanus for consul! Coriolanus for consul!”
Coriolanus: “Yeah, okay, whatever.”
Menenius: “Now you just have to show the plebes your scars.”
Coriolanus: “Awww, man.”
Sicinius and Brutus: “He is so going down.”

Act II, Scene 3
Rome, The forum
Coriolanus: “Hey, plebes, like, make me consul, okay?”
Citizens: “Yeah, okay.”
Coriolanus: “Cool. Laters.”
Citizens: “Nice guy.”
Sicinius: “Really?”
Brutus: “We think he’s a butthead.”
Citizens: “Hey, you’re right. He is a butthead. Kill the butthead! Rabble, rabble. . . ”
Sicinius and Brutus: “Awesome.”

Act III, Scene 1
Rome the street
Coriolanus: “So, does the consul get a hat?”
Rabble, rabble . . .
Menenius: “Uh, oh.”
Citizens: “Coriolanus is a butthead!”
Coriolanus: “I’m not a butthead. YOU’RE the buttheads. Stinky, mouth-breathing, assistant principal buttheads!”
Menenius: “Bro! Harsh.”
Citizens: “Kill the butthead!”
Coriolanus: “You cockaroaches wanna play rough? Okay, say ‘ello to my little frien’ . . .”
Menenius: “Whoah! Everybody, chill! We should all take a break.”
Lartius: “This sucks. I think I will leave and never come back.”


Act III, Scene 2
Coriolanus’s House
Volumnia: “I love you, but sometimes you’re a butthead.”
Coriolanus: “But they’re STINKY buttheads.”
Menenius: “Be the bigger butthead.”
Coriolanus: (sigh) “Fine.”

Act III, Scene 3
Coriolanus: “I’m here to apologize to you buttheads.”
Citizens: “Rabble, rabble, inconsolable rabble!”
Brutus and Sicinius: “You suck!”
Coriolanus: “You suck MORE!”
Brutus and Sicinius and citizens: “Banish him!”
Coriolanus: “I banish YOU!”
Citizens: “Whatever. Don’t let the door hit you in the Coriolanus on the way out.”

ACT IV, Scene 1:
Volumnia: “This sucks.”
Virgilia: “This sucks.”
Menenius: “This sucks.”
Cominius: “This sucks. Shotgun!”
Coriolanus: “I’ll be back.”

ACT IV, Scene 2:
Sicinius: “That worked out well.”
Brutus: “Yeah, I just hope we don’t run into his mom.”

ACT IV, Scene 3:
This scene is cut. Don’t anybody say any lines from this scene.

Act IV, Scene 4:
Antium. Before Aufidius’s house.
Coriolanus: “Well, this is an interesting turn of events.”

Act IV, Scene 5:
Aufidius’s House
Aufidius: “Dude?”
Coriolanus: “Dude.”
Aufidius: “Dude?”
Coriolanus: “Duuuude.”
Aufidius: “Dude!”
Coriolanus: “Dude!”

Act IV, Scene 6
Brutus and Sicinius: “Coriolanus is gone! Yay!”
Messenger: “The Volsces are going to attack us now.”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Shoot.”
2nd Messenger: “Coriolanus is going to team up with the Volsces and attack us.”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Double shoot.”
Menenius and Cominius: “Idiots.”

Act IV, Scene 7
Volscian camp before Rome
Lieutenant: “Wow. The Volsces really love Coriolanus.”
Aufidius: “I know.”
Lieutenant: “Even more than they love you.”
Aufidius: “I KNOW.”
Lieutenant: “That must make you feel inferior.”
Aufidius: “You do know I outrank you, right?”

ACT V, Scene 1
Brutus and Sicinius: “You can talk to him, right?”
Menenius: “Oh, I don’t know . . .”
Brutus and Sicinius: “Auuuuuuugh!”
Menenius: “You guys are too easy. Of course, I’ll talk to him. Relax I got this.”

ACT V, Scene 2
Volscian camp before Rome
Menenius: “Hey, yo, Coriolanus, buddy-”
Coriolanus: “Nope.”
Menenius: “Uh oh.”

ACT V, Scene 3
Volscian Camp before Rome
Mom lays out a guilt trip. Coriolanus folds.

ACT V, Scene 4
Menenius: “We are so screwed.”
Messenger: “Telegram for Menenius: Rome is saved. Stop. Volumnia succeeded where you failed. Stop.”
Menenius: “Smartass.”

ACT V, Scene 5

ACT V, Scene 6
Aufidius: “This guy just can’t stop screwing me over. I want to kill him.”
Coriolanus: “I can’t believe I caved like that. I wish someone would just stab me in the belly.”


There is actually a bit more to this show. Come see.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Bit Punchy

So, I finally got around to watching Zack Snyder's film/vanity project Sucker Punch.

I'm not entirely sure how I would describe it, apart from taking us all on a little trip in the Way Way Back Machine to a junior high school sleepover in which you and your twelve-year-old friends are sharing your twelve-year-old versions of sexual fantasies trying to out-do one another and then one of your friends shares something that's just a little too weird. You know that awkward silence right after that revelation? That's kind of how I felt through all of Sucker Punch: like I had inadvertently wandered into one of Zack Snyder's wet dreams. There are machine-gun wielding, pig-tailed, waifish, inmate-hooker-schoolgirls, who swing samurai swords at steampunk zombie Nazis, dragon hordes, and shiny metallic robots. Oh, and they dance. Supposedly. They do a lot of stretching.
Still, I can't fault the skill with which Snyder executes his fantasy. The steampunk zombie Nazis are pretty cool. The dragon battle is exciting. The machine-gun wielding, pig-tailed, waifish, inmate-hooker-schoolgirls are. well, you know. (Kind of awesome!)
I don't really want to give any spoilers, but the title itself is kind of a spoiler:

sucker punch (skr-pnchn. Slang An unexpected punch or blow.

Warning: Here there be spoilers. Kind of. Not really.
About fifteen minutes into the film (maybe ten) you realize the meaning of the title and that you're probably going to get a Terry Gilliam Brazil ending, so then it's just about how exactly we're going to get there. If you haven't seen Brazil, then I haven't spoiled anything for you. Unless, of course, you've seen Sucker Punch already, in which case I just spoiled Brazil for you. (Not really. Maybe sort of.)
Predictable ending or no, Sucker Punch is really mostly about the eye candy, and I don't mean just the lovely young actresses (though they are quite lovely). Cool visual effects, great battle sequences, and lots of explosions make Sucker Punch a bit of a teaser for what Snyder will likely do with the beloved Man of Steel in 2013.
Sucker Punch is escapism. If you look for more than that, you'll likely be disappointed. I enjoyed it for what it was, and everybody involved sure looked like they were having fun - especially Scott Glenn.