Reflection on Titus

As the Session 2 campers arrive today, I felt the need to make one final reflection on working with the Titus cast. They all put on a wonderful show last Sunday and I want to fully appreciate the work everyone put into that show. I was incredibly nervous going into it. I didn’t know how the students would interact with the difficult themes. I wasn’t sure how the race elements would play out. I was worried some plot elements would be disturbing to campers.

I channeled all of my anxieties into the one aspect of the show I had control of: the song. I was in charge of arranging and teaching our a capella rendition of “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. So my “is this going to a traumatizing experience?” worries masked themselves as “is that mezzo note an A or A#?” worries. My biggest fear was tempo. I loved the way the song sounded without a metronome, but without anything to guide the pace, could the campers all stay together? Getting it right in rehearsal is one thing, but getting in front of a live audience always changes the way a performer behaves: they may get nervous and go too fast, or try to counteract this and end up going too slow to overcompensate. I trusted the campers, but being a ball of anxiety wrapped in floral dress, I was still very worried about the song when we all walked on stage for the final performance. But at that moment, something beautiful happened. Everyone got to their pitch. Scarlet tapped out the tempo. The cast started singing, all counting along in their heads, all in sync, and all in perfect harmony.

I believe that moment is an excellent representation of how the rehearsal process went as a whole. The campers were both literally and figuratively in tune with each other. Despite the difficult themes, everyone engaged with maturity and care. The morning after our tumultuous dress rehearsal, I saw members of the cast checking in with each other, hugging, and being ready to listen and provide the care others needed. It was a beautiful thing. Pretty ironic coming out of a play all about about murder, severed limbs, and more murder.

I am still in the education portion of my theater career, so it’s not as if I’ve worked with many professional casts. That being said, this has been the most mature, focused cast I have ever worked with, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of this show.

But now the Titus performance is over. The beast is slain (because the campers totally slayed in the performance. Heh. Shakespeare related puns). However, that doesn’t mean that the themes in Titus are not still relevant. As Aaron says, “Let not your sorrow die though I am dead” (5.1.981), I am saying “Let not your contemplation of institutionalized racism and sexism die though we are no longer working on Titus.” Maybe that wasn’t as concise as Shakespeare, but still. We still plan on exploring race, gender, and other relevant topics in Shakespeare. [Editor’s note: And we will continue to do so until the day such issues become irrelevant; i.e when we fix systemic racism and rape culture.] I will continue to post about my findings both in Titus and the shows I am working on this session, Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Knight of the Burning Pestle.

Therefore, farewell Titus! And stay tuned next for some posts about sexual assault, racism, and gender expression.