Rehearsal blog for Titus Andronicus. Today, Madeline Gould charts our experiments using paint as a blood substitute.
Kiefer Sutherland (VO): Previously on Titus…
Devotees will remember a passing mention of a body count. Thirteen… no, wait… fourteen onstage deaths? That’s a lot of blood! (Calm down, Kiefer. It’s no worse than when you ripped that bit of wood out of your leg in series…er…)
They aren’t particularly inventive deaths. Poison in the ear? No Sir! Exeunt pursued by Bear? I think not! Kiss your poisoned bible? Do one, Mate! And not a ripped out heart in sight, more’s the pity (there’s a ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore joke in there somewhere but my brain won’t make it happen).
Titus’ forte lies in the volume rather than the variety of deaths (on paper at least). There are a couple of inventive disposals of corpses (a quick search on the subject reveals that, according to some guys from THE INTERNET, Chiron and Demetrius have “the most disturbing death in Shakespeare”*), but the fatal blows are in fact struck using fairly standard murder-by-death methods. Stabby-stabby slashy-slashy.
To be fair, that’s still a lot of stabbing. Pretty much everyone who dies is stabbed, slashed or hacked at in some way leading inevitably to – you guessed it – lots of blood. That’s why we spent the best part of one night last week standing on a bit of plastic in a deserted office, slapping at each other with paint brushes dripping with – not one, but two – different concoctions of the red stuff. Needless to say, whoever goes in after us to do the refit will wonder which installment of Hostel they were filming and why they’d chosen to do it in Bermondsey.
We’d be lying if we said we hadn’t had a tremendous amount of fun. There was squealing and blood-thirsty guffawing and (over-enthusiastic) throat-attacking (sorry, my fault) culminating in a mass attack on our noble leader who “screamed like a girl” when we all rushed him. I’ll know if you edit this out, Yaz, so don’t even think about it…
Effective methods include:
Stella’s Shoulder Stab: A brutal plunge into the neck which results in a satisfying explosion of blood from the shoulder; particularly effective if you want to surprise your victim from behind.
Emma’s Wall Slide: Take a knife to the stomach then turn to the wall and slide down to the floor leaving a little snail-trail behind you. Add fan-boy/girl glee by touching your bloodied hand to the wall as you slide. It’s like that bit in Titanic (you know, with the car and the steam?) only with murder instead of shagging. Also excellent in conjunction with the Hug ‘N’ Stab (see below).
Ashlea’s Hug ‘N’ Stab: Give your victim a little cuddle while inserting weapon into their back/side/backside. Lovely and sinister. Reserved for the sneakiest of baddies.
Fran’s Stab ‘N’ Flick: Give your victim a good old-fashioned blow to the gut. As they look down in horror, flick your weapon upwards. Excellent splatter on their face and the ceiling will draw some satisfying groans from the audience.
Viv’s Variety Throat Slash: From the back, front or side; from above or below; quick and hard or slow and long, this one’s a beauty. Draw the flat side of your weapon across the victim’s throat. The classics are always best.
Kiefer Sutherland (VO): Next time on Titus…
- Adventures in Stratford.
- Henri and Leila discover the gruesome joys of bone crunching sound effects.
- We discuss the dangers of paint in the eyes.
*I’d just like to point out that the same guys who brought you “The most disturbing deaths in Shakespeare” think that Lucius is married to Tamora. Lucius isn’t married to Tamora. They also think that Titus breaks Lavinia’s neck. At no point in the text does it say that (although many companies opt for this method of execution as it seems more humane). They also think that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet are “disturbing.” If it were appropriate to gender stereotype I’d tell them to man-up and read a chuffing book for once.