Finding the Curate
by Andy Bond
The Curate has a problem. He has to mount a production of As You Like It, but he doesn’t have enough people to do it. His cast is fractious, dispirited, and out of practice. They doubt themselves and they doubt each other. To top it all off, his lead actress has lost her mind.
But the Curate knows that life is like that. It regularly serves up seemingly impossible challenges, leaving it to us to figure out how to rise to the occasion. And so he must get his small cast on board and then coax and cajole them through a performance of As You Like It. He doesn’t know how (or even if) it will work out, but he knows if they don’t try, it will be the end of their little world.
When I first read this play, I was shocked to discover that I have essentially lived this story. As a student at UT, I was in a production of As You Like It, and our director was an impossibly strict and critical professor. We lost two cast members early in the process. We looked at each other and had two simultaneous realizations: the challenge in front of us was too difficult and we were going to make it work anyway. I have never in my life grown as much as I did during that production, or learned as much about what people are capable of when placed in a seemingly impossible situation.
So the template in my mind for the Curate is that professor. He drove us onward, he had ridiculously high standards, and he demanded more from us than we would have demanded from ourselves. And it wasn’t until the final curtain had come down and we had all gone back to our normal lives that I realized he did what he did because he believed in us and he loved us. He made himself into a monster so that we would grow as performers and as people.
The template is imperfect, of course, but it lines up well enough to get me on my feet and moving forward. And, as the Curate says “You haven’t got time to stop and worry about it. We can only think on the run. And all we can do is play the scene.” So I continue to discover the Curate as I play him. I find funny moments and tender moments and harsh moments. I find a man who ultimately wants his cast to soar–and he is willing to do and say whatever he has to in order to make that happen.
Come and join the Curate at The Curtain Theatre, starting March 1st and running through March 17th, Thursdays-Saturdays.