For our Shakespearean
scenes, my group performed the scene from Twelfth
Night where Olivia meets Viola disguised as Cesario (Shakespeare, Bate and
Rasmussen, 2008). However, in contrast to the original’s period set up, we
chose to transfer the play to a modern setting: An office staffed by the
attendants of Olivia as her employees where Cesario enters to get Olivia to
accept a business proposal. Drawing inspiration from popular sitcoms such as The Office, we wanted to transform the
original’s comedic effect into a type of humour relatable to a modern audience,
especially since character tropes have stayed the same, thus not taking away
from the dramatic intentions of the source material.

After our performance, we
critically reflected on it both as a group and individually and although we
were generally happy with our interpretation and got some positive feedback, we
found several ways to improve. Firstly, we realised there should have been more
emphasis on adequately balancing the scene’s base comedy so as not to turn it
into a pantomime and prevent an overly slapstick or stereotypical presentation,
which we realised does not go too well with the classical heightened text and
its sometimes-subtle puns. Furthermore, we could have improved the use of space
through better diagonal and vertical movement, not only to liven up the
performance but also to combat that some of the audience’s sight lines were partially
blocked. Consequentially, the lighting would have needed to be planned better
so the entire cast could be more visible. As a result of the narrow timeframe
to rehearse this scene and especially because we were lacking a director, I
noted we should strive for a better time management in the future to develop
better ensemble work and linked performances through more rehearsal time as a
group rather than individually.

Out of the others’
performances, the scene from The Taming
of the Shrew struck me as particularly interesting. This may partly be
because it is one of my favourites Shakespearean comedic plays, but mainly
because it was executed so well: Putting the scene in a modern-day pub setting
brought interesting staging opportunities, i.e. through the placement of
audience members at tables woven into the blocking of the scene. Especially
Francesca and Isabel playing to different tables on opposing sides of the stage
helped create an atmosphere in which they seemed to be actively trying to boast
to the audience members, thereby drawing them into the conflict of the scene as
active participants rather than as a passive spectator. I also really liked
this group’s choices regarding character interaction and technique. As they
were off-script quite early on during the rehearsal process, I could see them
using their lines as means to bounce off each other’s reactions instead of
merely acting out their meaning in a way that reminded me of Meisner’s repetition
exercise (Meisner, Longwell and Pollack, 1987) – The chemistry and relationship
between Petruchio and Kate in this scene created an interpersonal tension that
made it very engaging and entertaining to watch.