O For a Muse of Fire

Rejoice! The blog is back! It’s late…but it is back. My four loyal readers have been clamoring for it…so here we go!

This summer with Shakespeare by the Sea, I am playing The Chorus and Exeter in Henry V. I am also fight choreographer for both shows. Doing Henry V checks another Shakespeare off my career canon list, and it’s one of my favorite plays. The Henriad are my favorite group of plays. Prince Hal was a role I chased harder than Hamlet, and one I actually got to play way back in 2000. That was a great summer for many reasons. I later had the great pleasure of Directing Henry IV part 1 at LIttle Fish, and it was so good, that I haven’t wanted to direct anything since, because if that’s the last thing I ever direct, then I’m going out on a high note. But seriously, I have been so busy acting these past three years that I haven’t had any time to direct. (Humble brag much, Vest? Jeez). I am kind of getting the directing bug again though. I did a couple of staged readings this year to dip my toe back in.  We will see.

But doing fight choreo is akin to directing. And I’ll let all four of you in on a secret: I have a bit of imposter syndrome when it comes to staging fights. I mean, I think I’m pretty good at it. People seem to dig the fights I stage, and also the goofy violence that I have to come up with for the comedies. But I have worked with some great fight directors. Jason Armit taught me pretty much everything I know. I recently worked with Erik Gratton who is another master of the craft. And many others. And one thing I have noticed about fight choreographers: They are all the coolest people! They really are. Maybe it’s the collaborative nature of the discipline. Maybe it’s spending so much time thinking about the safety of people? Whatever it is, they always are patient and really care about the people  and effing love cool fights. It’s a lot to live up to. And so I get anxiety whenever I agree to take on choreographing a play.

But as of tonight, both plays are fully staged with fake and awesome violence, both serious and hilarious. And so I can take a breath and now just hope nobody gets hurt under my watch. Because it’s all on me. Hell, even when an actor accidentally let a sword slip out of his hand a few years ago, which landed in the audience on the foot of one of our dear friends and patrons I got like five calls telling me it was all my fault. I now remind all of my actors to not throw their weapons into the audience. I thought this went without saying, but better safe than sorry.

So, now I can put my whole brain into playing The Chorus, which is a beast of a role with the most exposition ever written (I think). Thankfully, Steph came up with the idea of making The Chorus also be Henry’s Uncle (and right-hand man, Exeter). Because history is written by the winners. And I’m there for lots of winning. It really gives me a way to ground those speeches and hopefully you’ll come away thinking I’m more than just an expository robot. It will help when I actually learn my lines…hey…it will happen. There will be no scripts on the day.

So that’s what is rattling around my brain and body today. This is the first blog of summer, when it was probably supposed to be the fourth. But I’ll make up for it by talking way more about myself next week.

Both shows are really shaping up. It’s going to be a killer season. And the fights will be dope!