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- Aria da Capo - 5/6 -
On the other side, and hide them from the house, And play the farce. The audience will forget.
PIERROT: That's so. Give me a hand there, Columbine.
[PIERROT and COLUMBINE pull down the table cover in such a way that the two bodies are hidden from the house, then merrily set their bowls back on the table, draw up their chairs, and begin the play exactly as before.]
COLUMBINE: Pierrot, a macaroon,--I cannot _live_ without a macaroon!
PIERROT: My only love, You are _so_ intense! ... Is it Tuesday, Columbine?-- I'll kiss you if it's Tuesday.
[Curtains begin to close slowly.]
COLUMBINE: It is Wednesday, If you must know. ... Is this my artichoke Or yours?
PIERROT: Ah, Columbine, as if it mattered! Wednesday. . . . Will it be Tuesday, then, to-morrow, By any chance? . . .
ON THE PLAYING PO
ARIA DA CAPO
AS PLAYED BY THE PROVINCETOWN PLAYERS, NEW YORK CITY
PIERROT HARRISON DOWD
COLUMBINE NORMA MILLAY
COTHURNUS HUGH FERRISS
CORYDON CHARLES ELLIS
THYRSIS JAMES LIGHT
So great is my vexation always, when reading a play, to find its progress constantly being halted and its structure loosened by elaborate explanatory parentheses, that I resolved when I should publish Aria da Capo to incorporate into its text only those explanations the omission of which might confuse the reader or lend a wrong interpretation to the lines. Since, however, Aria da Capo was written not only to be read but also to be acted, and being conscious that the exclusion of the usual directions, while clarifying the play to the reader, may make it bare of suggestions and somewhat baffling to the producer, I am adding here some remarks which have been found of value in preparing it for presentation on the stage.
Since the production of Aria da Capo by the Provincetown Players, I have received a great many letters from the directors of little theatres, asking for copies of it with a view to producing it. Very often, after I send the play, I receive a letter in reply asking for some suggestions for its presentation, and enclosing direct questions on points that have been difficult. It occurred to me finally that it would be reasonable to make up a sort of informal prompt-book to send about with the play; and it is that which is printed below. It will be found incomplete and uneven, in some instances unnecessarily detailed, in others not sufficiently so; all of which is due to the fact that it was put together loosely, from answers to chance questions, rather than logically, as an entity in itself.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF "ARIA DA CAPO"
The setting required is simple:--a grey curtain, a long black table, two slender black high-backed chairs, and a raised platform.
Instead of wings and back-drop the Provincetown Players cleverly utilized painted screens, the heights varying from 6 to 10 feet, these being set right and left of the stage in such manner as to give the effect of depth and distance.
The table, six feet long and two feet wide, has thin legs and is painted black.
When Pierrot and Columbine enter in the final scene, it is not necessary that the table which Cothurnus has replaced shall entirely conceal the bodies of Thyrsis and Corydon. Pierrot and Columbine must ignore them until the lines indicate their discovery, no matter how they may have fallen.
Particular attention must be given to the chairs in this set. They are used to construct the tissue-paper wall, and, although delicate, should be heavy enough to remain solid and steady, up and down stage, without the possibility of an upset when Corydon strides through the wall.
Near the footlights (actors' left) are two sofa pillows, used to represent the rocks against which the shepherds lean. On the left of the stage have another pillow, which Thyrsis places under his head when he lies down to sleep. Use cloth or crepe paper for these pillows, and have them of spotted black and white material, or of any gay color except red or blue.
Cothurnus occupies a chair upon a platform, up-stage, centre, with two or three steps surrounding it on three sides. Drape this with plain heavy black cloth.
The table covering is important. Its width is equal to that of the added height and width of the table. As it must be moved to cover the bodies of Thyrsis and Corydon, it should be of sufficient weight to prevent slipping. It will be well to experiment with this, to ensure proper performance.
The cover should have black and white spots and striped ends.
The table is set as follows:--two large wooden bowls (at least seven inches high and fourteen inches in diameter). One is placed at each end of the table. That at Columbine's end should contain persimmons, pomegranates, grapes and other bright exotic fruits. Pierrot's bowl has confetti and colored paper ribbons, the latter showing plainly over the edge. (If Columbine uses practical macaroons, put them into this bowl.)
Near Columbine, place a practical uncooked artichoke; have this of good size, and nail it to a wooden standard, painted black. At both places there are tall white wooden goblets.
In the centre of the table there should be a curious, grotesque, but very gay flower, standing upright in a pot of wood or heavy paper, which will not break when Thyrsis drops it. Concealed at the root of this plant there should be a small sack of black confetti, to be used in the "poison scene."
The table should be set with nothing but these articles, and yet give the appearance of bounty and elegance.
Place the table parallel with the footlights,--the long side toward the audience.
Columbine's chair is at the actors' right, and Pierrot's opposite--Columbine's hat hangs from her chair-top. Both chairs are festooned with tissue-paper ribbons, at least ten feet long, to be used later by the shepherds to represent their wall. These must be of such a texture as to break readily when Corydon walks through, and a prearranged transverse tear or two will assist in the prompt breakage when he does so.
Two white wooden bowls, one filled with fruits and the other with confetti and paper ribbons,--one ribbon to be of cotton or silk, in order to be not too easily broken by Corydon when strangling Thyrsis
Two tall white wooden goblets
One artichoke nailed to a standard
One flower in paper or wooden pot, the root wrapped with black crepe paper (or use confetti)
Black and white tablecloth
Boots and prompt-book for Cothurnus (large flat black book)
Also, if desired, mask of Tragedy for Cothurnus
Crepe or tissue streamers of different colors, including no red or blue, for wall.
PIERROT: Lavender or lilac satin, preferably a blue-lavender. Care should be taken that the lavender does not turn pink under the stage lights. Pierrot's costume is the conventional smock with wide trousers, with black crepe paper rosettes on the smock, wide white tarleton ruff. Black evening pumps with black rosettes may be worn. Black silk skull-cap.
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