There’s a little section in our little play in which the entire men’s chorus must completely change character (new costumes, addition of wigs, etc.) and switch from actor/rebels to the political underlings who serve at the whim of the Grand Duke.
That’s what we worked on tonight.
To begin, we put them in their own little world — sealed off from the rest of the play; and from the real life events which form the lives of their constituents. It’s a shallow playing space, and completely theatrical.
They start off divided. Half enter from the left and half enter from the right. Their rhythmic march brings them onstage with six steps forward and two steps back until they gradually form a group unified in their derision of the Grand Duke. They slyly mock him, talk behind his back, and reveal insider secrets. But once the man himself has entered, they immediately fall in line to begrudgingly enact his self-aggrandising edicts.
The Grand Duke is unpredictable and blithe. His choreography includes posturing, toe-tapping, shoulder shrugging, a bit of a Charleston, jazz-handing, side-stepping, pocket-picking, and high-kicking.
His unwilling minions have subservient and formal gestures punctuated with over-the-shoulder pointing and a brief little grapevine action. There’s also a lovely little Russian Nesting Doll inspired schtick.
Laissez bon temps rouler!