The chorus at the heart of Andrew Cuk's production of the Penelopiad
The Chorus Takes the Final Bow
They have become strong and a force to reckon with in their unity, one of Atwood’s very clear and not so subtle messages.
by Andrew Cuk
There comes a moment towards the end of every rehearsal process when the director must block the curtain call. Many leave this to the last dress rehearsal, as there is an old adage that it’s bad luck to do so beforehand. Others, like myself, feel the bows should be clean and well-rehearsed. Still, the staging happens at the end and not the beginning of the process. The bows are a statement of the pecking order of the actors, the last person taking the prime spot. It’s usually determined by the character—Hamlet always bows last, unless, of course, you are doing Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
As I contemplated the bowing order for the John Abbott College production of The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, I went through my repertoire of possibilities. I could stick with the traditional: the lesser characters in small groups, followed by a string of single bows ending with Penelope, the central character. As indeed, she is. Atwood adapted her novel of the same name, and the play is heavy on literary narration. Penelope tells her story of marrying Odysseus, the hero of the Trojan War, and the long twenty-year wait for him to return home. Through Penelope’s words, Atwood blows away the cobwebs from the myth and refashions it as a story for our own time.