Shakespeare's Globe

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Phil talks us through the Much Ado tech week. He explains how helpful he finds this last week of rehearsal, in terms of getting used to costume, working with props, and even having a mini audience in the form of the Globe tour groups.

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Time: 3 minutes, 56 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Paul Shuter:

We are doing this interview in the theatre, whereas normally we are just shut away wherever we can find a small, quiet space. So there’s more background noise than usual, people are working on the set; we’re in the middle of the tech week. Now the tech week rehearsal in effect started on Monday and its Friday lunchtime and you’ve just about finished?

Phil Cumbus:

We’ve just literally, a couple of minutes ago, finished our work through the play for the first time. So the tech has taken us all week, we’ve only had the morning and afternoon sessions because at the Globe you have to deal with the fact that there are shows on of the other plays. So this week it’s been As You Like It, that’s been on in the evening, so we’ve had to finish our tech early. Usually you work through into the evenings as well but here its day sessions in the week leading us up to today. So we’ve finished the jig and we’re about getting ready for our first ever dress rehearsal where we work through the play as best we can for the first time. And then we have another dress tomorrow and then we have our first encounter with the audience tomorrow night.


So what are you trying to get out of the tech process?


I’ve always been a massive fan of technical rehearsals. There is something that I think with some actors – they can be a bit tiresome, you have to hang around, obviously you’re stopping and starting through the play, in most theatre’s you’re spending a lot of time doing lighting, sound, those sorts of things. Whereas here, I find that we are outdoors so it becomes less claustrophobic than it would be in a normal theatre, but also there’s something about living in one’s costume for a long time which you never ever get again in a play process. So here, we came on Monday and we got our costumes, we put them on, and then we’ve been sort of getting used to them and breaking them in over the whole of the last week. That’s a wonderful thing, it teaches you a lot. You arrive in the theatre with all the work you’ve done in the rehearsal room and then suddenly you get all these extra things to help you take it even further: You get props for the first time, we have the proper sword belts, swords; we’ve got the costumes; they are trimming people’s hair. So everything just starts to really come together and the fact that you can feel incredibly uncomfortable in your costume on that Monday; it’s incredibly inhibiting, it doesn’t feel right because you are used to doing it in your own clothes. But then gradually, over the course of week, it becomes more and more a part of you; an extension of the character. And so I’ve always enjoyed that. I’ve enjoyed letting those things affect how I feel. So now I’m in my costume and it feels incredibly familiar; the boots don’t feel as odd as they first did, the colours feel very familiar, the fabrics...


...You are a symphony of browns aren’t you?


Yes coppers, browns, creams and things like that. So it feels very apt and very right. So I love that from a technical rehearsal point of view. And then it’s also about getting used to the space. You’ve got to recalibrate everything a little bit because the stage feels so different here than it does when you are in the rehearsal room. In the rehearsal room we’ve got the mark up on the floor of the set, but obviously, once you get to the outside of that, it’s just four walls because you’re indoors. Whereas here you’ve got the space and the globe and the sky above your head and birds flying around. So you have to recalibrate everything and that again is very exciting, if a little scary, because it does feel a little unfamiliar for a few days.


As we sit her the little pools that we talked about in the last session, one of them is being filled, one of them is being vacuumed. There’s a tour group going round, and that happens all through tech week...


...Yeah, that’s a very odd thing that happens here. Your tech is done under observation so there’s a constant flow of tour groups from the exhibition and workshop groups from the education department, and they’re going to be here through the afternoon as well. So this dress rehearsal even we are going to have a steady flow of observers and it’s very odd because you – from previous times being here, you look at those groups like they are a proper audience. So you start doing some of your scenes, there’s a random tour group that have just come in so you start to perform it to them. And it’s always gut wrenchingly terrifying when they just do not laugh in any way when you are doing a bit of comedy, you expect them to. But actually you forget that they are coming into it completely out of context; that they are only watching these little snippets and then they are going out. So it’s not a sign of what the actual audience will take from the play.


They may not be English speaking.


Absolutely. Lots of these groups are foreign, European students, and things like that, so it must be a very strange experience for them as well.

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