Gilbert and Sullivan Archive

PRINCESS IDA DISCUSSION

Characters (continued)

2.4 - . . . Nitwits On Steroids
2.5 - Hildebrand
2.5.1 - Hildebrand's Court


2.4 - . . . Nitwits On Steroids

Barclay Gordon: . . . Nitwits on steroids. How else to describe Arac, Guron and Scynthius? Sullivan often uses music to "paint" character, but to me the granddaddy of them all is Arac's first song. To a deliberately dull-witted lyric ("like most sons are we/masculine in sex"), Sullivan applies a melody so feeble, and so filled with tedious repeats, that the rest of us onstage or in the audience recognize the characters at once - even before the song is finished.

After this musical intro, I think it must be difficult to do something very different with these characters.


2.5 - Hildebrand

David Craven: Would it not also be possible to play as a Patter Baritone. I saw one production where, in fact, the Hildebrand could not sing and did the entire role in Rex Harrison-like Parlando (I think that is the term). And on the dialogue he did it like declamatory Shakespeare. Again, not really my choice, but if this approach is to be taken, this may be the role. It would seem to me that the PB could just as well play Hildebrand . . . or for that matter, it might be very interesting to see the patter baritone as Florian . . . I certainly could see either of the two patter baritones in the Chicago area (Henry Odum and Aaron Hunt) playing Florian or Hilarion, but, while they are both superb actors, I don't really see them as Gama . . . they simply aren't mean and nasty enough in real life to play that on stage . . . (Uh . . . in light of some of my recent uncalled for flames on others, does this mean I am cut out to play Gama . . .)


2.5.1 - Hildebrand's Court

Paul McShane: Like Yeomen, Ida offers excellent opportunities to de-homogenise the chorus and turn them into specific characters.

In one production I was involved with, Act I of Ida was particularly interesting in this regard.

Hildebrand had a Queen (Boadicea) and two daughters (Gwenyth and Godiva). His kingdom (named as Od) had an Archbishop (O'Dour of Sanctity) and a wizard (Mandrake). His court had a gaoler (William Shadnut) and a jester (John Poke) - our previous show was Yeomen. These all had some sort of featured action during Act I.

Two Daughters of the Plough were also featured (Brunnhilde and Germaine).

Rica Mendes: Though we didn't have much fun doing it, when we did Ida, we each trained for hours (literally) on our characters - how to react to men, how different men in the room's classes affected us, etc. There were also two classes of servant women involved and we were trained how to react to them etc. Though we didn't give ourselves names, a lot of work went into this process.

Once in Adamant, we each worked with characters (nameless, though). For example, I (tried to convey that I) was clearly a follower of Ida - when it came down to it, I was more than willing to lay my life down for Ida since she "saved" me and my little sister (played by the 12 year old real life sister of our Ida) from an abusive father and brother (how I learned to fight). So, when the soldiers broke in, my first reaction was to protect my sister and then to cut the men apart.



Page created 10 May 1998