Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

Marcello will play both Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus, he appeared in the Globe’s 1998 season and is looking forward to building on his experience of playing in the theatre last year.

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Marcello will play both Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus, he appeared in the Globe’s 1998 season and is looking forward to building on his experience of playing in the theatre last year.

At the beginning of the rehearsal process Marcello’s biggest challenge is to find a way of playing each twin which is different for the audience. He is also concerned to ‘get to know’ the other actors in the company and to develop a strong group or ensemble feeling. This helps later in rehearsals as the actors have developed a trust of one another and also a common group identity that they can draw on throughout the season.

The company have played lots of warm up games (Volleyball is a favourite) and also in the first weeks have worked a great deal through improvisation to explore themes and characterization in the play.

Ephesus, where the play is set, is located in modern day Turkey and the production will be set in the company’s own fantasy version of Ephesus.

At one rehearsal, Kathryn Hunter, the director, gave the company a picture and asked them to recreate that picture by depicting the people in it, using random props and costumes from a box. At the end of a twenty minute period of improvisation the actors were questioned in role, by the director. The company then recreated the scene, this time, with Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse working as their characters. The other cast members, initially, had to act as the people in their pictures normally would towards strangers. The activity gave the company a chance to get a feel for Ephesian society (as they will portray it). The play will also use Turkish-style music and dance to help establish the company’s imaginary Ephesus.

Kathryn Hunter gave each actor an animal that she felt might resemble their character in order to help them explore the physicality of their role in greater detail. She suggested that Dromio of Ephesus might be a monkey and Dromio of Syracuse a fish, possibly a pike or a goldfish. Marcello has found the first suggestion very helpful but has found it harder to develop the physicality of a fish!

Marcello has been sent a postcard of twins. Marcello has found the postcard very useful as it has given him a visual point of reference for the Dromios. He feels that the twin on the left of the picture would be Dromio of Ephesus, while the twin on the right could be Dromio of Syracuse. Both twins appear to be angry or upset but the one on the left also seems to be frustrated and on the verge of tears. Marcello feels that Dromio of Ephesus is like this twin – oppressed by his master and the household he lives in to the point where he could ‘snap’ or ‘break down’. Dromio of Syracuse, however has a more peaceful existence and enjoys a much healthier relationship with his master.

Marcello is currently collecting objects which symbolise his character. For Dromio of Ephesus he has chosen worry beads and for Dromio of Syracuse, a handkerchief – this choice reflects their different characters and experiences. It also reflects Marcello’s choices about the physicality of each character – Dromio of Ephesus, he has decided is slow – his movements are heavy – while Dromio of Syracuse is light, like a butterfly. For Marcello the object can encapsulate the person, the worry beads are typically Turkish while Marcello thinks Dromio of Syracuse would need the handkerchief to wipe his brow as he is a visitor to a hot climate.

Marcello has been trying to remember times in his life when someone persistently accused him of doing something wrong yet he knew he was innocent. This is the feeling that both Dromios must experience in the play and Marcello hopes that by recalling such a moment in his own life he will be able to use the memory of that emotion when he plays the scene.

Marcello has also been thinking about Dromio of Syracuse’s description of Nell in Act 3 scene 2. Marcello is interested in exploring the idea that everything in Ephesus seems extraordinary, unreal and disturbing to Dromio of Syracuse and that even quite ordinary occurrences become ‘larger than life’ or extraordinary in his mind.

After working together through improvisation the company are now going on to explore scenes in greater detail. Marcello is exploring how it feels to be constantly wrong. Each Dromio is wrong.. once, twice, many times – so many times in fact that they never know what is real. Everything they see seems to be a mirage.

The company have tried to develop a song or dance that signifies each character, it is however hard for both Marcello and Enzo (who plays both Antipholus’) to develop clear relationships between each Dromio and Antipholus. The confusion starts so early on in the play that the audience does not really see each pair relating to one another ‘normally’. It is however important for Marcello and Enzo to have a sense of their relationship before the play opens in order to make the situation as it evolves within the play clear to the audience.

Marcello feels that Dromio of Syracuse acts almost as an adviser to his master and has the capacity to tease him and change his mood, while Dromio of Ephesus is unjustly treated and is always protesting his innocence. In Act 4 scene 4 Dromio of Ephesus complains that he has served Antipholus…

..from the hour of my nativity to this instant, and have
nothing at his hands for my service but blows. When I am cold, he
heats me with beating; when I am warm, he cools me with beating; I
am waked with it when I sleep, raised with it when I sit, driven out of
doors with it when I go from home, welcomed home with it when I

These lines are proving central to Marcello’s interpretation of the role of Antipholus of Ephesus.

In order to overcome the problems of one actor playing both Dromios in the final scene, the company have decided to use doubles. Masks have been made of Marcello’s face which will be worn by another actor – not only in the final scene but at various other points throughout the play. In other scenes this challenge is being addressed in another ways – for example a special door is also being built which will extend outwards allowing the audience to see what is happening on both sides of the door. This will allow Marcello to play both Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus in the same scene simply by rotating around the door 180 degrees while the remainder of the company rotates by only 90 degrees.

As he is playing both Dromios Marcello is in nearly every scene which is very physically demanding, but he feels that rehearsals are progressing well and he is beginning to develop individuality and detail in is portrayal of each Dromio.


These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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