Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 5

In his penultimate blog post Bo discusses Apemantus and his relationship with other characters, and he looks ahead to performing to an audience.

Transcript of Podcast

Character Outline

Apemantus is described by Shakespeare as ‘a churlish philosopher’ and as ‘sulking’, so he doesn’t like himself and he is somebody who mopes in the corner. But actually, everything he says is very pertinent and more or less true. He complains about Timon’s friends, he highlights their falsity and he turns out to be right. So I don’t think he is churlish, he is maybe a little bit too fixed and strident in his opinions and I think there is a great deal of pride there too. I think that if he followed his own philosophy - which is that the court is a bit of a circus - then he would live somewhere else, (like in the wilderness where Timon ends up,) but he doesn’t, he stays near the court. That could be due to his love for Timon, because despite all their bickering there is a mutual respect or love that goes back a long way. But there is also something else that keeps him round the court, I think he probably quite likes it, or maybe he is a bit jealous that he isn’t part of that world. He’s not gentry like the other guys; he’s probably got to where he has from hard work and intellect rather than being born into the position. So maybe there is certain bitterness about people who have just had life handed to them on a plate, when he has had to strive and live in poverty. In fact, at the end of the play when he and Timon are having this slinging match of insults Timon says ‘your father was begot from some she-beggar’  which is like the worst insult of ‘your mum’s a dog’. That seems to hit him, so perhaps there is some truth in it.  

Relationships with Other Characters

Most of the other characters either ignore me, or ridicule me, or laugh at me. I don’t actually think I affect their behaviour at all, because they’re too wrapped up in their own world of greed.

However, Lucy [Bailey, Director] and I have talked about the relationship between Alcibiades, Timon and Apemantus. We talked about the possibility of them being a trio which goes back to when they were all in their early twenties, all on level pegging. Today we would say they were at university together or army training or something like that. In those circumstances you form very close relationships with people who are outside your normal social sphere or class. I think that’s what has happened with these three people. Even though they are very different, a bond has been formed; their lives have gone in very different directions but there is an underlying bond. Lucy has tried to bring that out wherever possible in the play. It’s not written in the text but it makes sense so we’re trying to bring that out at certain moments. It’s certainly the case between Timon and Alcibiades, then with Timon and Apemantus. There is nothing really in the text to say there is anything between Apemantus and Alcibiades but there’s nothing to say there isn’t. So I think Lucy has cast us all around the same sort of age to suggest this trio.

Anticipating an Audience

A lot of my dialogue is to the audience, so in rehearsals I’ve had to play out to a blank wall and I imagine that’ll be easier with an audience. It’s really good having that big rehearsal room actually. You get a good sense of space in this building because the ceilings are high, so you just have to use a bit more welly! Plus, because they are digging the foundations out over the road, the incessant noise means you have to raise the volume, which is probably quite a good thing. Although I’m surprised how little volume you actually need – I thought you’d need huge amounts of power in this theatre but it appears you don’t really; maybe because it’s made of wood, so sound bounces.


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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