Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Move Over Romeo, Lord Capulet has arrived!
Rick read in the English language press that Beijing Playhouse, an English language theatre, was holding tryouts for Romeo and Juliet. Rick wanted to demonstrate “responsible risk-taking” to the girls, so on Mon. Feb. 16th he went down to the British school in Chaoyang area, about an hour trip, to try out. He returned that evening with laughter, reporting what he described as a disastrous tryout. The old English did not roll easily off his tongue, particularly since he does not read phonetically. He mispronounced “Montague,” he didn’t realize that acts were divided into scenes and picked up the wrong scene to read, he mixed up the 3 note song they taught them (in a duet no less!). One kindly actor came over and whispered, in a helpful tone, “When you see a comma take one breath, when you see a period take two, a semi-colon take three.” To his surprise the next morning Rick received a callback. That day he kept would call out random phrases to practice: R: “Steeeellaaaa.” J: “Uh, Streetcar Named Desire?” R: “To be or not to be.” J: “Wrong play.” Day 3 the call came and he was cast as Lord Capulet. A new career is born as a Shakespearean actor.
For those of you who know Rick, this is absolutely and definitely outside his comfort zone. Years ago he swore off movies with English accents and people running through fields. (“Room With a View” threw him over the edge.) The first rehearsal was Sun. Feb. 22d. We all went with him to see the rehearsal area. I wanted to shake the hands of the directors and thank them for playing the role of Henry Higgins to Rick’s Eliza Doolittle. Rick has thrown himself into this project with marathon-training approach. It is heavy rehearsal schedule, with performances for most of May. But it is living our goal: Try new things and always be willing to move out of your "comfort zone." That will hopefully be the enduring lesson of our time in China.