Fun in “Così” rehearsals: nipples, nose-breaking, mayhem, etc.

Fight Director Paul Babiak attended our all-day rehearsal last Saturday (yes, it was St. Patrick’s Day too) to work through the fights and general mayhem that ensues in Così. In this play we’ve got tripping, choking, head-swatting, head-banging, nose-breaking, slaps, fisticuffs, knife-wielding, falling to the floor in a faint – all those moves require a Fight Director to teach actors to perform them safely. But it’s hardly dry, technical stuff. PJ Hammond (Cherry) tweeted on Saturday that one of Paul’s instructions to Zac when he gropes Ruth was to “let that hand say ‘TIT’!”

At last night’s rehearsal, Paul returned to coach Ryan Kotack (Nick) in a couple of fights with Henry (Chris Kelk) – Ryan’s just finished a sold-out run in Let My Mind Run Dry in Week One of the New Ideas Festival.  Week Two (a whole different lineup of short plays) opens tonight – make your reservation ASAP at, and check out the play synopses, etc. at

Movement Coach Jen Johnson also returned on March 17 to observe us in rehearsal. Her previous visit was on March 3, when she taught us how to walk like our characters and find the internal rhythms and tics that individualize us. This time, she approved what we’d incorporated, and encouraged us to go even further with the tics!

We got our first look at the set – some elves (aka set designer Ed Rosing, master carpenter Lionel Boodlal, LifeWithMore Cowbell blogger Cathy McKim, and a very helpful fellow named Doug, who was recommended by Alumnae’s Subscription Manager Lynne Patterson) had been hard at work on Monday night doing some building and painting. Thanks, folks – it looks great! Well, actually it looks decrepit and destroyed, but it’s supposed to – hole in the ceiling, discarded set pieces and all. Love Henry’s chair/throne! Disclosure: Matt Brioux got a little carried away in his final scene as angry firebug Doug, so if you notice a chunk missing from one of those Styrofoam columns…

Costume designer Margaret Spence and assistant Razie Brownstone were also around last night, and borrowed a couple of actors when they weren’t needed on stage so they could try on costumes. We all applauded Laura Vincent’s (Julie) delightfully awful Così Fan Tutte opera costume in a vile shade of pink, and a high wig made of toilet paper rolls. They’re supposed to look like they were constructed by the inmates of the mental asylum in the Occupational Therapy class, and boy do they ever! Chris Kelk (Henry) tried on a tricorne hat with attached periwig (again, more cotton-covered toilet paper rolls), which he will wear in his opera role as cynical aristocrat Don Alfonso.

Bet you’re wondering about the reference to “nipples” in the headline of this post, aren’t you? James Warner, who plays drugged –out musician Zac, is an experienced keyboard player, but is not familiar with the accordion. In Così, Zac has to play Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” on the accordion, so James has been practicing at home with the instrument. He reports that neighbours in his apartment building are “looking forward to a cabaret recital”, but that his playing tends to be interrupted by his own howls of “Bloody hell – me nipples!” as he pinches his nipples in the folds of the accordion. James didn’t want me to tell this story; I can’t imagine why: -)


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Filed under 2011/12 season, Cosi

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