In his second blog post, Paul discusses how rehearsals have progressed, his opinions on Edgar and Edgar's family, and considers the challenges involved in bringing the play from rehearsal to the Globe stage.
Transcript of Podcast
This week we have been rehearsing the fight scenes using machetes and chains. It is quite exciting! In discussions, when I am sitting down, I have some fantastic ideas. However, these ideas do not always work in practically in rehearsals.
We ran through the entire play last week, which was very useful. Often, it is easy to become so absorbed in your own character that you begin to forget about the rest of the play. Everybody's work had become separate. I had not seen Tonia [Chauvet, Cordelia] and did not know what work she had been doing, as we do not appear in any scenes together. The run through of the play gave us the opportunity to share our work, and this was very encouraging. It has been difficult going back to working on individual scenes.
Before we had the run through of the play, we would spend two hours on every scene. Now we spend approximately one hour on every scene, but our work is more detailed and concentrated.
The play has a social context, and as an actor you have to find your character's position in that. There are specific questions regarding scenes that must be considered: where is it set? What time of the day is it? What are your character's feelings in this scene?
I have been thinking about the relationship of brothers. What does it mean to have a brother? What kind of relationship do Edmund and Edgar have? What effects their relationship?
I have also been thinking about my relationship with Gloucester. Do I get on with my father? I think that there is a change in my feelings towards him and it is very emotional near the end of the play when I see him without his eyes. In the first scene in which I appear (Act I Scene II) my relationship with my father and Edmund is explored. It is in this scene that Edmund asks me questions about my relationship with my father. It is when you love someone that you are vulnerable to them, and this is why Edgar believes the things that Edmund tells me. I do not think that Edgar, at that point in the play, would imagine that Edmund would write such a letter.
In that scene I only have six lines, and within that I have to show so many different things. I have been trying to decide how Edgar should exit from this scene. I do not think that there should be a change in his character from that point. The way that I have rehearsed it is that there is only a change in his character at the beginning of the next scene that he is in. This is when he realises the enormity of the situation, which has an effect on his character.
I wanted to show different aspects of Edgar's character. I did not want to present him as a character who is ‘off-balance’ as soon as he comes on the stage. His behaviour in Act I Scene II is slightly strange and weird, particularly parts of his conversation with Edmund. Edmund is interested in the stars and Edgar calls this ‘sectary astronomical’. This is illogical, and quite strange, as it is actually astrology that all things ‘portain’ to, rather than the science of astronomy.
The text itself is very useful. You can delve into it for any answers that you may need. I like to think of it as an archaeological dig; if you go down far enough you will find the answers!
The ‘Poor Tom’ scenes are going to be a big part of the character, and it will be very challenging. I will have to delve into the details of the story and language to truly show what is happening. I need to find a way to define him as a character to explore the ‘journey’ that he is experiencing.
Bringing King Lear to the Globe stage
Michael [Gould, Edmund] and I had rehearsed Act II Scene I, when Edgar is leaving, we had rehearsed in a very small space. When we had the opportunity to rehearse it on stage we found it did not work. We realised that we would have to ‘open’ it out in relation to the stage. Rather than standing together for the scene, we experimented with each standing beside a pillar and speaking across the stage. I think that this approach will be more successful in involving the audience. The Globe stage is a unique space, and the way you present the story must fit around it. I have been trying to work on the stage as much as possible.
I would like the students to think about the cast of King Lear. Who would they cast from their friends, family and celebrities to play each role? Why would they choose each person to play that particular part?
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 change frequently as the rehearsal process progresses.