[What follows is a reply-comment I posted, copied from below, carrying on a bit of a colloquy between myself and a learned Australian. I do beseech you all, continue to comment as you see fit. I learn a great deal from these exchanges, and I would encourage all comers to break out their soapboxes and lend voice to their wits. Please. Much thanks, --paulmonstereditorializer]
Yes, the internet is a funny place, isn't it?
I should step up and say right now that I'm quite familiar with Patsy Rodenburg's works, I've read a number of her books, including her latest, and I've trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and the British-American Youth Festival Theatre in San Diego. I've performed in regional professional theatres here in Portland, OR, at Berkeley Rep in the Bay Area, at Vermont Stage Company, and with Stacja Szamocin in Poland. My respect for verse is as deeply rooted in training and experience as I believe it can be, at this stage in my development.
In this discussion, I think it's important to distinguish two distinctively compelling theatre ethics at work in my perspective: the first and foremost, rightly so, is my loyalty and passion for this Text, which it's evident we both share. On this point, I believe we actually don't have much to disagree on. What you find provoking, on the other hand, is what I interpret to be the secondary--but nevertheless important--sense of loyalty I feel to this individual production.
It is my job as an Actor, to serve two masters--my text and my director. Now, since the director serves the text, too, this presents no difficulties on its face. The director is always my Caesar; where s/he commands, I obey with alacrity. I dig deep and bring out the everlasting whup-ass whensoever they beckon it. I'm not a mindless automaton; but I do believe that demonstrating consistent discretion and trust makes those moments when I do question my directors that much more compelling.
Now, critics and audience, artists or not, are entitled to call things as they see it, and, as you mentioned, it's not unknown for directors to revoke their trust. Hence why I distinguish the two masters.
My purpose in these posts has been primarily to elucidate, for myself, the causes and courses I pass as we inch ever closer to Opening (within two weeks' now, Christ on a stick!).
I rely heavily on these posts. Written words, language, the stuff and substance of ideas and imagination made manifest, these are the voices of Whitman's multitudes pouring out of all of us. Of course there are contradictions, of course there are inconsistencies. I say that I serve two masters, but the point of all of this is to say that really, at the end of the day, I only serve the Text.
I have negotiated every unavoidable cut. I have strived to preserve as much of the verse as possible, and I have been at particular pains to protect the scansion. Every hour in rehearsal is accompanied with twice as much working alone on my text, exploring the wilderness of scholarly criticism, listening to BBC recordings of Paul Robeson and Olivier and so forth.
I would love to have more training. But I'm not going to shy away from serving this play solely because I'm not fit for it. Of course I'm not fit for it. But this makes me no less determined to serve it.
Thanks for commenting, and please keep commenting as you see fit.