Friday, I discussed some issues in As You Like It‘s text that don’t necessarily translate to the production’s 80s setting. Today, I want to talk about issues that come from your actors…
Our Rosalind, Ryanna, has a few facial piercings and some visible ink. She had decided earlier to take out the rings, but it’s not like she can remove the ink.
Now, I’ve been in shows with folks with tattoos. Heck, I have a tattoo on the back of my calf on my left leg. And it isn’t easy to cover that stuff up. In Much Ado, I wore a kind of short pant, quasi-knickers, but simple black socks wouldn’t cover the tattoo. I had to add black thermal underwear as well. So I know it’s not easy to disguise.
And she has multiple tats. Forearm, a few on fingers, and a handful on her lower legs…all pretty visible (though the hand ones are so small and light that an audience member would really need to be looking for them to see them). What to do?
At the beginning of last week, I broached the subject, but then quickly tabled the discussion as I wasn’t ready to make a decision (especially as it would have costuming repercussions). Rehearsals helped solve the problem, however.
Rosalind and Celia’s first appearance has the latter attempting to cheer the former. We had originally blocked the scene with the two of them entering together, Celia following Rosalind in. And it worked fine, but not great. I had them try it a little different: Rosalind comes in from stage left, sits, and ruminates, then a beat or two later Celia enters from stage right, going over to her and beginning the dialogue. While the dialogue worked, there was still something missing.
I floated an idea: what if Rosalind was giving herself a tattoo, almost prison-style? It plays like self-harming. It plays like rebellion. And it motivates Celia’s comments. And damned if it didn’t work. Instead of the dialogue feeling like a data-dump of exposition, it now reads like background info that informs the on-stage actions of our heroine, actions that cause concern in Celia.
Ink. Not a problem. A solution.