Filming with Robert Benedetti

Robert Benedetti and Nicholas Ballas in a scene from King Henry Iv, Part 1

Robert Benedetti and Nicholas Ballas in a scene from King Henry Iv, Part 1

 

Okay, it's a little intimidating. All right. A lot intimidating to be doing a short film for a man who won produced Emmy and Peabody award-winning films multiple times. And who was Dean of Theater at Cal Arts for eight years. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of Robert Benedetti’s impressive biography.

Ariana Karp, Samantha Blinn, Anna Farkas, and I sat down at the Teahouse on Canyon Road to talk over storyboard for the shoot. It would be a scene from King Henry IV, Part 1, where Falstaff meets Prince Hal before a battle and then gives the remarkable soliloquy on honor. The speech is a famous one and in our opinions, Benedetti practically owns it. He performed it at a fundraiser for the ISC back in April and since then I can’t really hear anyone do Falstaff but him.

international Shakespeare center Santa Fe
 

The tea meeting was awe-inspiring—we all felt lucky to just be there listening to “Beny’s” stories and picking up tips for the upcoming filming. After a month of wrangling with SAG-AFTRA contract papers, nailing down a suitable venue, and getting everyone organized, there was something of a thrill to feel the project coming together.

Also performing in the scene was Nicholas Ballas—known to many in Santa Fe as the owner of Cowgirl, and also familiar to as respected actor on our local stages. Ballas had been one of Benedetti’s students at Cal Arts (I’ve had a recurring feeling that I must have bumped into him when I was also in grad school in SoCal for fine arts at the same time, but I can’t say where).

There’s a powerful bond between the two actors that this scene seems to particularly illustrate. When Hal kisses Falstaff’s cheek in a gentle parting, you can feel the tenderness of the relationship. Yes, they’re professional actors, but in this scene one feels something more—a lifelong affection.

international shakespeare center santa fe
 

Filming day was cold but sunny—good for the natural light coming in the chapel skylight at The Lodge at Santa Fe. Samantha Blinn did the video, Ariana Karp the sound (thanks to Nancy Tabet for holding the boom!). All went smoothly. Not many takes were needed, but it was a joy having the chance to watch these two actors replay segments of the scene for each shot. Each performance was a gem and I found myself unexpectedly moved to tears during Hal’s departure. Our time there was truly golden. I, for one, wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

See the clip here on our ISC YouTube channel. 

INTERNATIONAL SHAKESPEARE CENTER SANTA FE