The Globe has the preshow hype for B.D. Wong's tour de force performance in Herringbone at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Wong plays 11 roles in the show.
Along with the recent local production of Love's Labour's Lost at the Actors Shakespeare Project, (6 actors play all the parts,) this article got me thinking about how we are probably witnessing a miniaturization of the old repertory experience.
I remember experiencing a kind of pleasant vertigo after watching Almost, Maine at Speakeasy Stage this past winter, a play in which we see many short scenes involving dozens of characters. I almost literally rubbed my eyes when only four actors emerged to take their applause.
These experiences are becoming more common, and instead of spreading out an actor's metamorphoses over a season, we are now, through the force of economics, seeing them throw themselves from one character to another in one evening.
I wonder how many playwrights approach writing a work, or rewriting a work, with the idea of doubling or tripling specifically in mind. I don't usually have that vision in mind, but I think that is because I write many of my plays with specific people in mind for specific roles.
As a funny side note, I wrote a play once for two specific actors. I know them really well and they had acted in my plays before. At the time the play came up for production, both actors just weren't available. For a short time I wondered how I would do the production without them, but we went ahead and cast two really great guys and the play went on to great reviews and got me my first IRNE Nomination for Best New Play here in Boston.