The Official Blog of the
Williamstown Theatre Festival

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Special Feature | Making Theatre: Ancient Rome and Williamstown

by Rachel Lerner-Ley, Dramaturgy

Putting up a show such as FORUM requires a great amount of time, effort, manpower, and ingenuity. Here’s a look into how theatre-makers created plays in Plautus’ day, and how over 2000 years later, the Williamstown team has made the world of Shevelove, Gelbart and Sondheim come to life.

Ancient Rome: 5-6 cast members, doubling in roles, all-male
Williamstown 2010: 14 cast members, doubling in roles, all-male

Ancient Rome: 1 guy playing a pipe, attached to his head so his hands can be free; he follows the actors around the stage and plays almost continuously throughout the show
Williamstown 2010: an orchestra of 16 (including 4 reeds) conducted by a music director, who has also been in rehearsals working with the actors since day one

Ancient Rome:  a basic costume of a toga and a linen mask which indicates comedy, tragedy, and character type; perhaps a cloak or a coat thrown on sometime during the show
Williamstown 2010: There are 176 costume pieces on stage throughout the show with 71 total costume changes, 15 of which happen in 30 seconds or less

Ancient Rome: sunlight—better keep up on those sacrifices to Apollo
Williamstown 2010: a lighting system that took 10 lighting interns, 5 lighting staff members, 8 apprentices, and 100 hours to prepare

Ancient Rome: Strong vocal chords and the acoustics-friendly architecture
Williamstown 2010: 74 speakers, 20 wireless mics, and a team of 12 to manage and install it all

Ancient Rome: props would be stock, simple, and used from production to production
Williamstown 2010: props made entirely from scratch, including the benches and Domina’s bust which took 60 man-hours to build

Ancient Rome: by the time of the empire, the Romans had devised a cooling system in which they would blow air over water
Williamstown 2010: air conditioning

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

awesome! i love these comparisons.

Post a Comment