Huffpost Culture
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Kim Witman Headshot

Into the Mouth of the Wolf

Posted: Updated:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it:

Memorize a 2,000-word speech, some of it monologue and some of it dialogue.

Deliver most of it according to someone else's requirements of speed and inflection, some of which change on the fly.

Perform it while moving around a large area on cue -- dancing, climbing, sitting, standing, carrying, eating -- and wearing someone else's clothes.

Do it all in a language other than your native one.

And if that weren't enough, switch back and forth to a different 2,000-word script, one whose dialogue is intertwined with the first speech.

Who would do this?

The two gentlemen who have shown up on our doorstep to sing both the title character in Don Giovanni and his employee Leporello, that's who. Ryan Kuster and Craig Irvin are talented, fierce, hard-working, smart, nerdy and up for a challenge. They will alternate between the two roles throughout rehearsals, and each of them will sing each role twice in performance.

There will be a special kind of combustion that results from this intense simultaneous investigation of the cocky Giovanni and his practical sidekick. Will there be times in the next few weeks (opening night: June 29) at which we think we've lost our minds? Probably. Will there be moments in rehearsal (and in performance?) when the two characters blend so successfully that lines are momentarily dropped or stepped upon? Possibly, thanks to the crazy magic of live theatre. Will these two guys, their colleagues, and the audience will be the richer for it? Undoubtedly.

My life is so bound up with live theatre that I too often forget how utterly wonderful it is. So much of what we do in the rest of our lives is spit-polished and ground down to a place that is predictable and safe. The act of performing music, theatre or dance is anything but random, as it requires hours, years, decades of polishing a craft and internalizing skills. But when the rubber meets the road, it's just you and your wits alone onstage, delivering whatever you've got in real time.

On cue.

In costume.

On the move.

In Italian.

And switching from powerful Don Juan to scrappy Leporello at the drop of a hat.

In bocca al lupo, indeed!