SALIDA — A woman cried out as her attacker yanked a fistful of hair. A father and son traded body blows. Fingers clutched a teens throat as she sank to the ground in a desperate death spiral.
Death and mayhem came on cue at a Words and Weapons Workshop run by Stephen Muterspaugh of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. The participatory lesson illuminated the concepts of drama, language andThe Bard used in Julius Caesar, and is a prelude to two community performances next month one in Modesto and one in Salida.
Saturdays playshop attracted about two dozen people, from teens to seniors, who will star in the December shows.
It turns out violence takes practice to look the part, and Julius Caesar has four fight scenes, Muterspaugh said, as his actors took a break between battles at the Nick W. Blom Salida Regional Library. Its very choreographed, he said, urging his cast to slow their blows for dramatic effect.
Sometimes the choke is really effective, Muterspaugh coached. The real meat of the moment is seeing them looking each other in the eye, staring each other down. It also is the moment that we tend to shy away from as performers, he said.
Such assault-savvy tips helped the man who would be Caesar, Geary Oreglia of Salida. Oreglia said the December community production would be his second acting gig ever. Its a whole different world for me, he said. Knowing how to react to the violence I kept turning into the punch, he added.
The real Caesar was stabbed 23 times, the end of a storied reign by a man known to dictate four letters simultaneously, Muterspaugh said.
Shakespeare play veteran Robyn Heisel said she enjoys a little phony fighting. Stage combat is always fun. You get to move around. Its socially acceptable to beat up on each other, she said with a laugh. Some people do karate. Some people do paintball. I do stage combat.
The father-son team of Bruce Schuchardt and Zachary Schuchardt, 17, took some ribbing for their enthusiasm. We do this kind of stuff all the time at home and in Boy Scouts, Bruce Schuchardt said. His uncle and father-in-law were among the 20 or so audition tryouts who came to the session.
From combat tips, Muterspaugh moved on to rhetorical devices found in the play and iambic pentameter, the ta-dum, ta-dum rhythm associated with William Shakespeares works. Its the heartbeat of the play, he said. His tutelage in all things thespian found an eager audience.
All Shakespeares amazing, said Dakota Wallers.
Muterspaughs guidance came courtesy of an Irvine Foundation grant to the San Francisco group, which will also provide props and costumes for the two performances with local actors in December.