This is Amanda's second blog entry for the 2003 production of Richard III, in which she talks about learning lines, working with voice and movement and other areas of interest inrecent rehearsals.
Transcript of Podcast
Last week, we did a lot of work as a chorus, both in terms of singing and in terms of movement. We as a company will be singing a lot of unaccompanied music during the production, some of it medieval Corsican music, I think. It has a distinctly Eastern sound; those who are singing the top parts get to try some yodelling (or something like it) over the top of the melody. It will sound fantastic. Our movement work at the moment is concentrating on the theme of war; what does war involve, what does war mean to us, and so on, and we will begin to use this work to create the Battle of Bosworth at the end of the play. We experimented with creating tableaux (freeze-frames) of moments that are born out of war; people fighting, people grieving, and then we started to explore physical reactions to different elements of war. For example, we did a group improvisation where we were placed in the path of a huge tidal wave coming straight towards us. It was really interesting to see how people's physicality suddenly changed when they imagined this situation, how the sudden shock affected their movements, making them broader and yet quicker at the same time. All of these moments and tableaux are going into what Barry [Kyle, Master of Play] is calling our production ‘scrapbook’. We don’t know how many of them will actually be used in the final production, but they will provide us with lots of ideas when we come to create the final version of the battle scene on the stage.
Lines and Text
This week, we’re getting back to the actual text, so most of the company can be found walking around the building muttering lines to themselves. We haven’t been told that we have to learn our lines by a given time, but it's reached that stage in rehearsals when it's simply not helpful to still be ‘on book.’ I find that, at this stage, I need to have the lines in my head so that I can start to play with them, to try scenes in a range of different ways. at exactly I called each person at any particular moment. At the moment, I will often come in to work early and go to the Musicians’ Balcony above the stage to work on my lines and get used to saying them in the Globe space. I think it's important for actors to learn their lines at their own pace during rehearsals. Some actors like to learn their lines before rehearsals start, but I think this is dangerous because it's only in rehearsals that you really find out why your character says what they do. I find that once you know this, it's much easier to learn your lines. It's so easy, when you’re using a script, to ignore smaller or seemingly less important lines. As Buckingham, I call many characters many things, e.g. ‘Gracious Prince’ or ‘Mighty Prince’ or ‘Gracious Duke’, and I was finding it very difficult to remember what I called different characters at particular moments; I kept getting greetings mixed up. This changed as soon as I’d decided why I was saying each line; was I trying to flatter them, to insult them, to threaten them? As soon as I knew the answer to that question for each moment in the play, I suddenly didn’t have any difficulty remembering the exact line every time.
We will be performing Richard III for several months, and actors often talk of how a production will develop throughout such a long run. This is absolutely true, but at the same time, I see the production that we (the company) take into the theatre for our first performance as being, in many ways, a finished product. Over the summer, it will develop into another finished product, perhaps something totally different, but at the moment, it is important for us not to think that we’ve got months and months to work on things we’re finding difficult.
I went to a costume fitting the other day, which was very exciting. I wanted Buckingham's costume to be as simple as possible, and Jenny [Tiramani, Master of Clothing and Properties] was in total agreement. He's not particularly flashy or showy; he only stands out when he wants to. For this reason, my costume will be mainly black, with a little silver braiding; a total contrast to the Woodvilles, whose costumes will be much more extravagant. There is nothing bling about Buckingham.
Movement and Voice
We’ve also been spending some time on-stage with Glynn [MacDonald, Master of Movement] and Stewart [Pearce, Master of Voice]. To work with two people who know the space so well is fantastic, as we have been able to merge our instincts about how to use the space with their experience, giving us a totally new and much better way of approaching each scene. I’ve worked in a similar theatre before; my first theatre job was a touring production of Pericles with a company called Cheek by Jowl. During the tour, we took the production to a beautiful sixteenth century theatre in Spain which is fairly similar to the Globe; it's open air, so whenever I had a line that mentioned the moon, I could point at the night sky and there it was, and the audience were very close to the stage. I do like having the audience so close to the stage, in fact, the first time I worked with Barry [Kyle] was for the opening production at the Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon, where, again, the audience are right around the edge of the acting space. The Globe is going to be very different though, I think, because so many of the audience are standing up. This will create a different atmosphere to any other theatre I’ve worked in, more of a mob mentality, I think, and I intend to play it to the full. In the citizens’ scene (act 3 scene 7), I’m hoping the audience will get involved, whether cheering or booing Richard. We’re going to be using the entire theatre; Richard will be on the balcony, I’ll be on the stage, and the Mayor will be in with the groundlings, so we’ll really be encouraging the audience to react to what's going on in the play. I just hope I can control them if they start to heckle!
**Please note, no audio file is available for this update**