In his fourth blog post Bo discusses recent rehearsals, working on text and voice and adding detail to the play.
Transcript of Podcast
From page to stage
In the last two weeks the pressure has been off me because we’re concentrating on other aspects of the production, but we’ve just run through the first half for the first time. It went really well, it’s exciting to see bits I haven’t been involved in. On the page, you read the play and it can be really dense. Lucy [Bailey, director] has done a great job of bringing it to life. Watching it is a lot less difficult than reading it, so it’s good to see it and for the next two weeks we’ll be putting it together more and running it by chunks.
I haven’t been in rehearsals as much as other people recently because they have been concentrating on the aerial stuff in the last two weeks, for example, using the bungees which I don’t do. Also, a lot of the banquet sequence (which is about the first 25 pages of the play) is going to be a very stylised movement, when the lords ‘turn into dogs.’ I haven’t been involved in that either - I sort of sit on the periphery looking grumpy! So I haven’t actually been used as much in the last couple of weeks as other people, but it’s all coming together now.
I’ve worked one-on-one with Jan [Haydn-Rowles, Vocal] this week, which was very good. She talked about internal rhythms and iambic pentameter, it was very helpful. She pointed out things that you don’t necessarily think of, like alliterated words - a run of letters that give hints to where the stress and rhythm should be - which was very illuminating.
Work on the Text
Work with Giles [Block, Text Advisor] has also been very helpful. One thing I’ve learnt from Giles is the sense of the rhythm of the text and of the thought behind it. The ideas that Shakespeare puts across are so dense and clever which means texts like this can be difficult. We’ve spent ages talking about it in rehearsals and as an actor you want to convey that. But it actually makes it harder for the audience to listen if you try to push certain words; I’ve noticed myself doing it. It is much easier for the audience to listen and understand if you just run on to the end of the phrase, or the end of the line, or the end of the beat. Shakespeare’s rhythm and rhyme help you understand it.
There are lots of pictures of Hieronymus Bosch on the wall so I think Bill [Dudley, designer] is using that imagery as inspiration, as one of the ‘colours’ on his pallette. We’ve all got these pumps which look really up-to-date and fashionable, but apparently they look very much like medieval shoes, the shape is very similar. So there is a sort of cross-over between modern and medieval. For instance, when we look at those Bosch pictures, what was fashionable then is similar to what is fashionable now - skin tight trousers and long coats. So my character’s costume is camouflage, skin-tight trousers and this long, heavy, student-like, grubby coat which is frayed round the edges and Apemantus hides himself in it. The coat hints at the eternal student, that strident, politically charged attitude where you go ‘Right, I’m a Marxist’ and the grunge phase that he hasn’t grown out of yet.
Adding the Details
Now we’re trying to tighten it up and bring the whole play together and put a bit more detail in some of the scenes. When you start putting scenes together – because you’re so used to rehearsing in little chunks - your mind goes somewhere else as you start thinking about how they fit together; you inevitably lose the detail of the scene. So I guess the next week or so will be trying to run bits whilst trying to maintain the detail.
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.