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Day 5:

After some moving and stretching, we started the day with some ball throwing, continuing to build our relationships with each other in the space. There’s a baked-in memory test with each ball throwing session, today it appeared Ricky might have been up last night playing Cluedo, as one ball’s route round the room charted a ‘famous person,’ another ‘with what,’ another ‘where,’ and finally the ‘emotional impact’. Thus Donald Trump with a mini-fridge in the dungeon was ‘illuminating.’ I dropped the ball when I started trying to artificially build stories, concerned with shouting out the next part of a ridiculous sentence rather than the safe passage of the ball to my comrade. I wonder if there’s often cases where we must resist the pull of certain pleasing rhythms in dialogue on stage and instead focus on a more fundamental, simpler connection. We’ll find out in previews I guess.

We spent the bulk of the day doing some detailed text analysis. It became apparent through analysing the opening exchange between Alsemero and Jasperino that this is a man with a NEED FOR SPEED. Alsemero is usually a man who gets to his destination quickly, a risk-taker and a go-getter. I found this to be an exciting prospect when I considered this inner-motor in the context of later scenes. His rashness might be useful when battling a sea storm, but just how effective is it with your murderous new wife? His outward stoic appearance coupled with this propensity for bursts of blinkered ‘violent’ action is a delicious dichotomy for my brain right now. How comfortable is Alsemero swapping between these sides of his personality - is it awkward, instinctive, vulnerable, frustrating?

We continued the text work with the scene involving Tomazo warning Alonzo of Beatrice’s lack of interest. It became clear that Alonzo doesn’t have a Scooby what’s going on. One wonders if that unawareness extends to how he is in a relationship, lacking awareness and attentiveness perhaps - a poor listener? Poor Alonzo was likened to an un-buttered piece of toast today and sadly it was agreed that for Beatrice there likely has been “not one bit of flutter in her fanny” for him this whole time. Whilst Alsemero (our bread analogy continued) might be a sexy ‘pain au chocolat,’ offering more of a stirring in the body than Alonzo, he’s certainly not the Black Forest Gateau of Deflores. Distinct from these two failed suitors, Deflores’ actions go beyond chivalrous acts of service or steamy prolonged looks at a chapel; he listens to her, shows up for her in a deeper, more present way perhaps… Food for thought. Literally.

At the end of the day, Sarah Dustagheer came in to share her knowledge of the play and it was fascinating. Key takeaways from this talk: as time goes on, the characters in the play are forced into increasingly cramped spaces. This made me think of Alsemero’s mental state prior to seeing Beatrice compared to where it’s at when he confronts her in the climax. An expansive sea to a cramped closet. PSYCHOLOGICAL SMOTHERING is written in block caps in my notebook.

Dramaturgically - the play reverses a whole load of expected devices. There’s a wicked reversal of trope with the ‘glove drop.’ As is there with the motif of characters ‘kneeling.’

At the end of the play, ‘the female body remains unknowable to the male gaze.’ Alsemero’s experiment fails. How does that feel Alsey?

Mylo McDonald (Alsemero)

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