It’s right there–in the middle.
There was a tidy write-up of one of the initial performances of The Worcester Shakespeare Company‘s The Merchant of Venice in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette recently:
We’re happy to say that it was a very favorable review. Even our recreated Shakespeare stage made a cameo in the article.
But the stage–dubbed McCurdy’s “New Napkin” Stage”, in homage to one of its designers and the medium on which it was designed–was built in Plymouth and it needed to commute to Whitinsville in time for the Companys’ first performance.
So we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly…
What a great old mill town along The Mumford River–
But enough site-seeing. We had a stage to raise.
The Riverside Piazza is the framed by the Whitinsville Mill and the nice folks at Alternatives. It’s an ideal setting for a play. Many of the company’s actors were there to help us. This was not a rehearsal.
Artistic director and actor Mel Cobb and Chris Gates, production manager, were also there to meet us. Mr. Burrey, an accomplished playa himself, would brook no idleness among the thespians, and immediately set them a-work.
Truthfully, the actors were VERY helpful and gracious in their helping. After all, how many actors get to help build, then perform on a stage plucked from the Elizabethan era? I imagine it would be like playing an exact replica Mozart’s violin…or something like that.
Once the supporting timbers were fit, trenails followed. Each actor had a turn driving an oak pin to hold fast the joint:
Including Mel himself, who seemed all-too-comfortable with mallet in hand:
There are rumors of Mel having had a bit part in the original Hawaii 5-O.
Joists and floorboards made their entrance, stage right:
The posts followed. Chris was a natural using the beetle:
There are rumors that Chris used to drive tent stakes for the circus…
As the shadows drew longer, the actors went to rehearse. We wound the day down by setting lintels between the posts and attaching a temporary set of stairs.
The company returned, ready to take this stage for a spin in its new home. Mel put the day’s work in context, reminding the players of their “ownership” and stewardship of the stage and of the unique opportunity it presented them. At Mel’s behest, the actors took a stroll around the stage in a circle for a few moments. I could only imagine it helped them “hear” and feel the floorboards and frame. It seemed almost a form of meditation.
Stage rehearsal in Whitinsville began for the first time.
Performances of The Merchant of Venice continue through August 25th. Visit the Worcester Shakespeare Company’s web site for more information: http://www.worcestershakespearecompany.org./
If you are interested in auditioning, offering your expertise in box office, stage management, design, running crew or helping in any other way, please email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for more posts on the snappy finishing of the 2013 version of The McCurdy “New Napkin” Stage…!