Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

In his third blog post Bo discusses developing his character, working on movement and his costume.

Transcript of Podcast

In his third blog post Bo discusses developing his character, working on movement and his costume.


Playing with the text


After we’d done all the improvisation in the first week, then we moved to the text. I think we’ve gone through the whole play, with the actors who are in each scene trying to get a sense of the language. A lot of it is quite tough to understand on first hearing. As a company, we put it into our own language, bringing it down to the level of ‘Hello, how are you? Haven’t seen you for a while’. Then, when you can go back to speaking Shakespeare, you have more of an awareness of the reality of the situation and it’s a little more grounded. For example, at one point, Timon says something about ‘drugs’, and you obviously think of drugs as we know them today; but in the play it means something else – ‘drudges’ – so we changed the word to that (4.3.253). We’ve done a few things like that, but not many. Lucy [Bailey, director] and Giles [Block, Text Adviser] had already done quite a lot of cutting to make it clearer. Also, there are the central characters, and then there are lots of other characters, and Lucy has doubled those characters up quite carefully. We don’t have any record of Timon being performed in Shakespeare’s time, and Giles seemed to suggest that some of the loose ends that haven’t been tied up are a result of the play not having been polished.


 Developing the character


My character is often described as being a churlish philosopher; people associate being churlish with being foolish, but I don’t think he is a fool. I think he’s one of only two or three sane voices in the play. He’s also described as being surly and sulking, and so, in rehearsals, we’ve been playing with the idea of him being on the periphery of all the revelry. He’s standing at the edges, commenting on how these people look like they are Timon’s best friends, but they’re actually not. We’re playing with when those comments should be directed to the audience, and when they should be part of the action. He does say some quite rude things. There is one point when Timon’s friends move him to tears with their ‘kindness’; somebody says something about the tears being like babies springing up, and Apemantus says that if they’re babies, then they’re bastards (1.2.108-110). Imagine if that was a real situation where your friend was in tears saying how much they meant to you, and you told them they were false tears! So at this point in rehearsals, we’re thinking about being less aggressive, just placing the words and letting them hit home.


Apemantus isn’t a rich person; he’s someone who takes pride in the fact that he only eats root vegetables and that he doesn’t really wash. There’s definitely a great deal of pride about him. Not only does he want to be different, but he wants to be noticed to be different. I think he wants to distinguish himself in a way that’s obvious to other people, whether that’s by having unwashed hair, or by having filthy hands, or wearing clothes that aren’t sparkling. He wants people to ask him why he’s different, so that he can say, ‘I’m not like you’. Although, having said that, what he says is true; he correctly points out that these people are flatterers – so he’s grumpy but he does speak the truth!  


The design of the play


In the third week we began to start putting the play on its feet, finding how it would fit in the Globe space. I’ve just been working on a scene between myself and three of the senators. They’re going to be hanging like vultures on ropes from above the stage; when you read the scene on the page, its dry, but it’s going to be played with me onstage and the senators hanging above the audience. It will be horrible, particularly as Lucy is playing with the idea of the courtiers and flatterers as vultures or predators – it’s got that animal quality of hanging in the air waiting to drop down for the kill.  




We’ve been into the theatre with Glynn [MacDonald, Movement] which was really helpful because she was introducing us to the dynamics at work on the stage, showing us the spots where you can be seen and heard by everybody, and anywhere that you have to be moving or be on a diagonal. There was a lot of talk about how to fill the space; it’s a huge stage and its high, and Glynn talked about not trying to reach up to the audience but allowing the audience to come to you. I’ve actually worked in the Tokyo Globe. It is meant to be a recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe, although it’s indoors and it’s not the same materials, and I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same proportions. I like that you can hear all the extraneous noises here, which you couldn’t in Tokyo. Also, in the Tokyo Globe there’s proper stage lighting so you can’t even see the audience so it didn’t have the same sort of feeling – well, I say that not having performed on the stage here, but to me it seems like it’ll be a different experience!


The costume


 I haven’t had a costume fitting yet but I’m looking forward it. Bill [Dudley, the designer] pointed out some of the details of the pictures and it looks amazingly modern in some ways. But then there’s also a lot of really interesting imagery from Bosch. So the costumes look like they’re going to have a real hellish quality about them, something a bit animalistic.


These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as she goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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