What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 21, 2013

1776 Follow-up

Last night, the lovely wife and I finally got to see the Pittsburgh Public Theatre's production of 1776.

Good performance - though you gotta rush if you wanna see it.  It closes on the 24th.

A month or so ago I was lucky enough to score a chat with two of the leads; Steve Vinovich, who plays Franklin and George Merrick, who plays Adams.  Last night they were nice enough to give me a few more minutes of their time to discuss what, if any, effect an actor's extended performance of a play has on that actor's understanding of the play or the part.

I got the idea from this series of books on Shakespeare - not just a blogger, you know.  I got some lernin' too!

Anyway, their answers were quite interesting.  It wasn't necessarily the case that an actor would understand the role any deeper - unless I misunderstood, they both said that they tried new things over the course of the production to keep the flow of the narrative fresh.  "Things" being defined, I guess, as subtle shifts of tempo or inflection in how they speak their lines.

In strictly musical terms, I'd say they were always working to find the groove.

Vinovich admitted he tried something new last night.  Towards the end of the play, after debating the necessity of removing the passages on slavery written into the Declaration of Independence, Franklin says:
We're men, no more no less, trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. First things first, John. Independence; America. If we don't secure that, what difference will the rest make?
Vinovich said he shifted the emphasis on that last line a bit and played it down somewhat.

The part that surprised me/impressed me (and this is out of complete ignorance on my part) is that they're working to improve with the performance with only a handful left.

As I said - good performance.  Catch it if you can.

Next up for the PPT: Thurgood.  From the PPT's website:
In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became our first African-American Supreme Court Justice. In this exuberant one-man play we hear Thurgood’s story in his own words – from humble beginnings as a waiter in Baltimore, to behind the scenes with leaders such as General MacArthur, Robert Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, to his triumphant rise to the highest court in the land. A journey of epic proportions, Thurgood is an eye-opening, humorous, and uplifting portrait of a true American hero.

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