This is Shaun's fourth blog entry for the 2006 production of Titus Andronicus, in which he talks about rehearsing group scenes, reflections on the play and costume in the production.
Transcript of Podcast
The first scene
There's a good reason for us dedicating so much time to rehearsing the first scene because so much happens during it and the whole rest of the play is a reaction to the first scene; it is the catalyst for pretty much everything that happens in the play, with the exception of historical bad seeds like Aaron, who has his own stuff from the past so he would want to bring Titus down anyway. When you think of all of the characters involved in the first scene, it's an amazing kind of melting pot of trouble and this then carries on for the rest of the two hours. So, in a way, if you get that right, you’re going to be doing OK by the end!
The pattern of rehearsals
Recently we have been doing many of the big scenes in Titus that involve a lot of people and there's a lot going on within those scenes. This means that lately our rehearsals have needed to be a lot more technical work than those scenes where there are only two people. In the time that we’ve had in rehearsals we have worked on creating the general shape of the scene because at the Globe we won’t be using sets full of furniture or things. It's essentially just us speaking to each other on a stage, so as long as you get the shape of a scene and the shape of what you are trying to do then if we get some time in the tech [the technical rehearsal] we’ll just do a few more runs and iron out any problems.
Reflections on Titus Andronicus
At the moment, I find that I’m walking around and seeing lots of things that remind me of Titus. For example, going to see Spurs [a football team] play the other day, and the blood lust and being around crowds of people in the stadium baying for whatever they’re baying for - for their team to win or the other team to lose, or for that guy to fall over. Another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is that we’re looking at this play and saying how horrible the events are as if we couldn’t believe this ever happened over here. The play is set in Roman times but some of the events portrayed in the play are happening all over the world and happening now. There are public beheadings around the world and on the internet. Also, what we think is terrible and awful was actually seen as entertainment for our ancestors. We’re not that far removed from public hangings when people went along to see criminals swing from the gallows and we’re not very far at all from things like capital punishment. In living memory that stuff's been happening. You’d have to be about hundred years old but there are people in this country who may have seen a hanging and that's quite weird. Rehearsing the jig We’ve been doing parts of the play that come before my scenes and the Goths scenes, so essentially I’ve not had much to do. We’ve been rehearsing the dance, the ‘jig’ that will happen at the end of the play and I can only describe it as ‘jazz soldier’! What I mean by that is a series of dance moves in which we are all soldiers. It's not like we’re soldiers dancing, we’re soldiers fighting but Sian [Williams, the choreographer on Titus Andronicus] has choreographed some fight moves to beats. I’m not sure if it will be used in the final production. It might just be part of the process but people are saying it's great, so it's quite possible we might have it in. It was good to do. Everything we’ve done has been helpful and aided the idea of who we are; the two factions the Romans and the Goths and never the twain shall meet!
I’m not entirely sure what my costume is going to be like but then I’m not one of these actors who needs to have their costume in rehearsal to find out about my character or things. Unless I know it's going to be a costume that is going to restrict my movement or restrict me and is going to be really hard to just be, because of this thing, then I’d like to have it sooner rather than later but I’ve not been told that's going to happen, so I’m sure it's going to be fine. I do know that I get a sword - a dagger - and I’m supposed to have a scimitar, although I don’t know quite what that is! I don’t have to have sword fights but I do kill someone so we’ll be working on the choreography a bit more next week.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.