Bonnie snapped her fingers and turned from Shawn as she read from her script, "You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old."
All scripts came down and all eyes turned to their director, who sat behind a folding table before the playing area in the small rehearsal space. He eyed them over the rims of his glasses. "Shawn and Bonnie, switch."
"You heard me."
Shawn blinked, script nearly falling from nerveless hands. "Switch? Switch what?"
Bonnie laughed. "You don't mean switch roles do you?"
Roscoe raised one smooth brow. "I do, in fact."
Shawn stared. Three weeks into rehearsals and Roscoe was still playing games? "Uh ... why?"
"Because I said so." That strong, square jaw tilted up, causing some of that wayward black silk he had for hair to fall back from Roscoe's high forehead. Behind his black horn rims, he blinked as though he didn't understand. "Is there a problem?"
Shawn opened his mouth, then wisely snapped it shut. After a semester and a half of Roscoe's acting class and another year before that hearing the stories about the hip young director, he knew better than to question. Doing so would only result in some far more embarrassing activity than what was asked. Besides, Roscoe was adept at coaxing magic out of an actor, sometimes when they didn't realize it. But Roscoe was asking him to play a girl here.
Bewildered, he looked at Bonnie. Her blue eyes went wide and she shrugged. Gritting his teeth, decidedly not looking Roscoe's way, he flipped his script back a few pages. "Ooo-kay then. Top of the scene?"
Heaving a breath, Shawn scanned the script as he joined the four other cast members on the opposite side of the playing area from where he'd entered as Benedick. He had a good handle on his lines already but he hadn't paid that much attention to detail on Bonnie's yet, and certainly not the ones when Benedick wasn't on stage. It's just an exercise, he told himself. Roscoe was testing him, making him see his own role from another angle. It made sense. In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick and Beatrice were at each other's throats constantly until they finally admitted their love for one another. This little role reversal could be good. Maybe this way he could show Bonnie what he wished she'd give him to react on. As he listened to the beginning of the scene, he got himself into character. Damn it, if Roscoe wanted him to do this, he'd do it! Besides, Beatrice was a righteous bitch. She'd be fun to play for a bit. He'd show Roscoe he could act! Without any of that stupid acting like a girl crap too. He'd just play the character as he knew her, screw the gender stuff.
When his first line came, he cocked a hip, placed his free hand on it and adopted a tone dripping with sarcastic scorn: "I pray you, is Signor Mountanto returned from the wars or no?"
He bandied lines with Tony, the guy playing the messenger, and had fun with it. There was more in Beatrice's lines than he'd realized. When Bonnie strutted into the play area with Dustin and Gavin and delivered Benedick's lines, Shawn realized Beatrice's lines were better. She got all the good jabs. That's okay. I've got more scenes. They traded insults, comfortable in the adversary after three weeks even if they had switched roles. They'd done plenty of talking about their roles already so he used a lot of what he'd heard and seen from Bonnie. Shawn even made Trina, who was playing Beatrice's cousin Hero, giggle. Okay, the character was supposed to giggle, but he was pretty sure the laugh was real.