Meet David Morden, the Voice and Text Coach for the 2015 Santa Cruz Shakespeare Summer Festival.
Where are you from originally? Where do you call home now?
I’m originally from Los Angeles (a valley boy!), now I call Tucson home.
How did you come to be a part of Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s 2015 festival? Do you have a history with us, or is this your first time?
This is my first time with this terrific company! This past season, I served as the Voice and Text Coach for Kirsten Brandt’s Romeo and Juliet at Arizona Theatre Company. I also work with Patty Gallagher quite a bit at The Rogue Theatre in Tucson. I had heard about Santa Cruz Shakespeare from Patty for quiet awhile and had always been intrigued by the work that was being done up here, (plus had heard good reports from friends who had seen the shows). It was through the generous advocacy of Patty and Kirsten that I was able to join the company this season.
What has your experience been like working with Santa Cruz Shakespeare this season?
It has been a delight to work with this company. Mike Ryan has brought together a company of artists who have a real love and devotion to classical theatre, but who also have fun doing it. The rehearsals have been intense and exhausting, but joyous – because we get to play with one of the greatest minds in English literature, (plus a couple of other authors who ain’t so bad either). The actors are quite committed to making the words clear, accessible and colorful. This makes my job such a delight as we all work to ensure that the audience get full value from these stories and don’t feel intimidated by Elizabethan English.
How did you approach your voice & text work? What inspired your choices? Was there anything you discovered during your process that surprised you?
A part of my job is to analyze the verse in these plays and root out the clues that the playwright has crafted into the rhythm of the lines. Shakespeare is a genius at using the sound of language to convey nuances in character and emotion. I had never coached either of these plays, and the manner in which he manipulates the words is brilliant. In Much Ado About Nothing, the play uses a lot of “prose,” or everyday speech. It is only when the characters start rhapsodizing about love or lamenting about betrayal that their language elevates into verse. Macbeth on the other hand, is almost completely in verse, but very irregular and un-rhythmic verse. The language in that play conveys a real sense of uneasiness and brutality because it refuses to fall into the cadence of a nice, tidy poem. Even The Liar, a modern adaptation by David Ives of a Restoration French comedy, is quite artful in the way he plays with words. It’s incredibly clever and fun, mashing modern idioms into flowery, classical verse.
What have been some of your favorite things to do in the Santa Cruz area when you weren’t rehearsing/working?
I’m a runner and this has been such a perfect climate for being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air! Honestly, though, most of my time has been spent in rehearsal — but I’ve really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Santa Cruz, which is dotted with really amazing cafes, shops and treasures.
What is your favorite Shakespeare play? Why?
I’m crazy for Pericles– it’s a beautiful, expansive, moving story of love, loss and redemption. It’s difficult to stage because the story spans many locations and a multitude of characters but the rewards of playing it are so great. Thematically, it’s almost a perfect play to me – every word in the story reflects the themes of never giving up and riding the ‘wheel of fortune’ until you end up back on top.
What is your favorite Shakespearean insult?
“Bunched back toad” springs to mind! Can you imagine having that flung in your face?!
Why should people come to see Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s plays this summer?
First, because it doesn’t get any better than Shakespeare if you’re looking for a journey of excitement, emotion and tremendous insight. Second, it’s a great company of talented artists who are going to have as much fun as the audience in the performance of these plays. Third, you won’t find many better settings for seeing a play than the Glen. It’s a real sensory extravaganza, seeing great stories played out among the towering trees of California!
Tickets on sale now for the 2015 season, which features three outdoor productions, starting with the wickedly romantic Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing, opening July 3; followed by David Ives’s modern adaptation of the wickedly hilarious 17th century farce, The Liar, opening July 24; and Shakespeare’s wicked tragedy, Macbeth, opening August 7. Plus, SCS continues the tradition of its intern-showcasing Fringe production with four performances of the wickedly festive comedy The Rover, starting August 18.