Editor’s note: The 6th through 12th graders of the Robinson Shakespeare Company, part of Notre Dame’s Robinson Community Learning Center, have been invited to perform Cymbeline this summer in Stratford-upon-Avon and present a workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Notre Dame Magazine reports on their journey here.
Hear how Cymbeline cast members wipe their feet to free their minds and the reason they acknowledge their toes when the show's over.
Spring break is imminent. Weeks of rehearsals, along with school, jobs and the other demands on their lives, the actors are ready for some down time. Director Christy Burgess feels the same way, but they have many metric feet to go before they rest. And, as she reminds them, meetings of the Robinson Shakespeare Company are meant to be an opportunity to release their stress and pretend to be someone else for a while.
Andrew McDonald: Friday can’t come quick enough. I’m already tired.
Christy: All right. Guys, let’s do it. We have a lot to get done. We have an hour and a half. I would love to get all of this done. I don’t want to hear moaning and groaning. We are all tired, we all have stuff that’s going on in our lives. We’re going to pull it together and make it work. Because when we walk through that door, do we wipe our feet?
Christy: Wait, wait. What does that mean, like if I say ‘wipe your feet’? What does that mean, Kennedi?
Kennedi Bridges: It’s letting everything from earlier go and going in fresh.
Christy: Absolutely. It doesn’t matter what happened in the parking lot, it doesn’t matter what happened during the day. When you walk through the door, you can wipe your feet and leave it all behind. And be somebody else. You can be an amazing, awful villain. You can be a sassy pants. You can be a horrible person.
She gestures toward Forest Wallace, who plays the horrible Cloten.
Christy: With no redeeming qualities, which is obviously not Forest. When he has his lines memorized.
Even curtain calls take practice. As the cast moves from their places in the final scene and lines up to take a bow, Christy refreshes their memories on the procedure for acknowledging audience appreciation.
Christy: How long are we going to go down for?
Ensemble: Enough to say, ‘Hello toes!’
Christy: In your mind. In your mind. . . . ‘Hello toes.’ And then you come back up.
Jason Kelly is an associate editor of this magazine.