Shakespeare's Globe

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“I think through rehearsals and tech and playing it, there’s a darkness coming in in his wanting his son to be king and starting to believe the witches. That I think’s a good thing. And it’s a more human thing.”
As previews begin Billy discusses the audience at the Globe, how his suspicions have changed, and the challenges of putting a dark production on in the middle of the day.

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Time: 5 minutes 50 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

So what happens in tech week?

Billy Boyd:

Well, tech week here seems to me completely different from tech week anywhere else, because normally, I think, even as we were told in drama school or somewhere, that tech week is more for the technical part of the show, the backstage, stage management, you know, getting the lights right, sound. And if anything, you save your energy during tech days normally in theatre, whereas tech here, I felt, was much more about, obviously, it’s still about music and entrances and exits, and props, but much more about getting to know the space. So coming from a room, you know, a modern room, in a modern building, to this oak stage with two huge pillars and the audience virtually in the round, you know, behind you quite a lot of the time. So the tech a lot was to do with getting into your head and into your body the shape of the stage and the auditorium, which is different than anywhere else. But I found the tech was a lot more to do with that than it was about technical specifics.


How was seeing the play in its entirety, now it’s all come together?


It’s weird! Because I always thought it was a fast play, but it’s incredibly fast, and, speaking about my character’s arc through the play is very well sign-posted by Shakespeare, and so choices that are made scene to scene are sometimes hard to change because once it starts running you’re like “This is so obvious”. You know, like after Macbeth has killed Duncan, in rehearsals I was thinking it may be quite interesting if I’m thinking that “Oh, I think it’s Malcolm”, you know, because he’s just been made prince of Cumberland, maybe I’m suspicious of him. But in the running of the play, it all happened which, us talking about it, Duncan dies, it’s just like “Woah, wait a minute, this is kind of obvious that my friend is, or, you know, I’m ninety per cent sure that my warrior friend has killed the king in his own house”, you know, it’s just awful.


Have your impressions of your character changed, or have they been confirmed since you started rehearsals?


I think when I started rehearsals I was keen to sort of play on his quite, not happy-go-lucky, but, sort of, somebody that you would like at a party. Both Emily [director Eve Best] and I agreed that we’d like that sort of boisterous kind of warrior soul. And I think through rehearsals and tech and now playing it, there’s a darkness coming in of his wanting his son to be king and starting to believe the witches, that I think is a good thing because it’s a more human thing, I think. We all want to get ahead, you know, or get our family ahead and, you know, he does quite a few speeches about, like, heavenly powers and “I stand in the hand of God” and he’s fighting with himself that you know “I’m still this, I’m trying to be a good man but I’m seeing that –


The witches are kind of tempting him?


Yeah, yeah, the temptation’s there, you know.


Are there any scenes that are still proving difficult to unlock?


We’re still working on the entrance – Banquo and Macbeth’s entrance and their very different takes on the witches, which I think we’re really keen to get right. What we’ve found in, and I was told by some actors who have played here, and Emily, is that the audience at the Globe are very sophisticated. But it’s more sort of little tweaks, like the entrance of Macbeth and Banquo and seeing the witches and our very different reactions to them, I think we’re still tweaking that, so that we can still look like friends who have been friends for years, and know each other very well. But also have completely different reactions to these three, as we’re playing the witches, three very beautiful women in their underwear.


And finally, what have been the challenges of putting this production together?


Even before we speak about challenges I’d just like to say what a wonderful experience to work with Sam Spiro [Sam Spiro laughs in the background]. Shh…it is! It’s worth it!

Samantha Spiro:

I’ll give you the tenner later!


I suppose, I would say the biggest challenge – and I thought this when Emily first spoke to me, was, and not really knowing the Globe, that I just thought if I could think of the hardest Shakespeare play to put on at the Globe I would say it was Macbeth, you know, as I think we might have spoke about this, that when you see Macbeth now it’s always very dark, lots of blood, and people, I think, expect that. So to do it, basically, in an outdoor theatre at 2 in the afternoon, in the middle of London –


In the daylight as well.


Yeah, it’s a challenge, you know, because people are expecting different things, so I think, I don’t know if it’s a challenge, but I think everybody had that in their heads when they went into rehearsals, you know. So maybe, even this same group of people doing this play in a studio, you know, a dark little kind of proscenium arch, it would have been a different play than what we’ve come up with for the Globe. But I think that’s a wonderful thing. 

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Elias Ellefson, Viroqua, Wisconsin USA

Your comment (max 250 characters) more

I so wish that I could see this production, especially the three witches in their underwear.

I'm playing the Tin Woodsman in our community theater production of "The Wizard of Oz" this weekend. Strangely enough, we're doing the Royal Shakespeare Company's version.

Break a leg, Billy!


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