As the snow falls on a blustery February evening, members of the cast await for the signal to begin rehearsal. Despite the absence of one of the actors due to the inclimate weather, the energy is high in the black box where the cast meet to rehearse. All of the actors are especially relaxed despite the snowy weather outside.
“We’ve been battling some weather related issues,” director Drew Scott said as his cast prepares for their production of William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labours Lost.”
Scott was asked to direct this spring production after a call from Dr. Crystal Brian, the chair of the visual and performing arts at Quinnipiac.
“[Brian] asked me to present a list of plays that I would be interested in doing, so I pondered for a few days,” Scott said. “We decided that the best one considering all the requirements and production dates and the needs of the students and program would be ‘Love’s Labours Lost.'”
“Love’s Labours Lost” is one of Shakespeare’s more humorous plays, involving the King of Navarre and his three companions, along with the Princess of France and her three lovely companions. Scott knew the spring production needed to be a comedy since the last play was more dramatic and the one after this will be a drama.
“‘Love’s Labours Lost’ not only has a nice range of roles, but they are all young characters, so I thought that would suit the college age of our casting pool,” Scott said.
Scott has an MFA in Directing from the University of California, Irvine, and is also a professor at Quinnipiac. Scott has been directing shows for 30-to-35 years now and previously spent time as an artistic director for a theater in Pennsylvania.
“I was also the founding director of a company in Los Angeles where we did Shakespeare for free in Griffith Park,” he said.
Before rehearsal begins, Megan Joyce shares her concerns over a beaded broach as part of her ensemble. She suggests a giant pearl ring as a substitute. Scott agrees and a decision was made instantaneously on changing the accessory.
Numerous kinks need to be perfected before show time and potential issues with costumes and scenes are worked on.
Maegan Pachomski is observant and committed to the material. She begins practicing her lines before the cast officially begins rehearsing for the evening. Once they start, Scott is attentive and helps Pachomski play a scene differently from the way she just rehearsed it. The communication between the two is respectful and Pachomski plays the scene to perfection on the next cue.
It is only the first scene of the evening that the cast will rehearse, but it is not quite going the way Scott envisioned.
“Can we pick up after we the dropped the ball here?” Scott asked his cast humorously. Everyone is game and ended up perfecting the scene before moving on to the next one.
The actors are honest with everything from how they play their characters to what they are wearing. They freely air any concerns to Scott.
“This takes too long.I’m going to be totally honest,” Laura Maselli said in reference to the scene where she, Joyce and Pachomski must “mask” using scarves. Scott helps the actors understand the concept of masking and how they will orchestrate the scene, so they avoid messing up their hair when putting on the scarf.
As a professional actor himself, Scott is especially knowledgeable in terms of working with performers when he is the director.
“I’m very conscious of how to communicate with actors and more than that, I am experienced enough to be able to understand what could be helpful to an actor,” he said. “I think, also, savvy enough to be able to realize that some actors want to find their own way. Other actors want very specific direction.”
Scott is adamant that as a director, he cannot be an actor too.
“There is a danger in over empathizing with the actors because you also have to guide them and you have to think about the final performance on stage,” he said.
“I think the key is the actors need to understand it is not personal. They want to give a good performance. They want to be effective on stage, so they have to have confidence to do that.”
One scene involves a dance where the actors and actresses must pair up. The choreography is not finalized – yet. At this point, the male actors are instructed to court the females. The atmosphere in the room is jovial and just as spirited as it was when the actors first arrived for rehearsal earlier in the evening. It is now time for the actors to practice this portion of the play.
“I don’t do spins,” Joyce said with a laugh.
Not even Mother Nature could take away the senses of humor and fun the actors had as they continued to rehearse for one of the premier events for the Quinnipiac Theatre Department.
“Love’s Labours Lost” will be performed on the Main Stage of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven from March 4-7.