As Mr. Blanchard delivered a lively St. Crispin’s Day speech, the Gallic horde menaced in the background in front of the old army fort. The effect was cinematic; Mr. Burdman called it “a long shot.” Adding to their fearsomeness, many of the French were stripped to the waist. Patrick Truhler, one of the foot soldiers, has rehearsed shirtless since his girlfriend mocked his farmer’s tan.
“I didn’t want to, because some of the other guys are pretty buff,” he said. “But she made me.”
It will be dusk when the crowds arrive at Governors Island, but during the afternoon rehearsals the heat has been vicious. “It’s an adventurous cast,” said Ms. Melton, “and that’s important.” Although the boats are a variable, there is almost nothing in this show that Mr. Burdman hasn’t done before on a smaller scale, and his cast has full confidence in him. It doesn’t hurt that, because they are now an off-Broadway company, everyone is getting paid.
“Even the interns get a MetroCard,” said Mr. Burdman, proudly.
By the end of this season, he estimates, over 100,000 people will have seen one of his productions. That’s a good start. Next year he wants to do five shows instead of three, to reinstate the cancelled workshops and to continue training other directors to make panoramic theater. “Because this is my style,” he said, “nobody else knows how to do it.”
If the premier goes off without a hitch, the audience should be back on Manhattan by nightfall—thrilled by the swordplay but also, he hopes, moved.
“The quiet moment right before the final applause, to me means I’ve done well,” he said. “That means the audience needed a moment to breathe.”
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