Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Production Notes 2

In Michael's sixth blog post he discusses developing Edmund further, the variery of audience reactions to the play and how he responds to reviews.

Transcript of Podcast


At the moment I am simply trying to get used to the character of Edmund. How would he react to walking out onto the Globe stage? I really have to work with my instincts, as I am still developing his character. I know what I would like to happen and I have to make it happen with Edmund. Every character in this show is unique and every actor tries to present this uniqueness to the audience.

Audience responses

One of the major challenges at the Globe is gaining the favour of the audience. It is difficult to determine the reaction of the audience. We tend to gauge the success of the show by the number of laughs that we receive. As an actor, one of the most dangerous things you can do is to ask the audience questions and play with them as you perform your role. This is dangerous because you don’t know how they’re going to react. Will they answer or just stare at you? By talking to the audience, you are convincing them of the ‘believability’ of the character. You also promote this believability through spontaneity. The audience identifies these spontaneous actions and responds to them.

The Globe audience can be very disconcerting because they are looking directly at you. They can sometimes be very distracting. You can see them being very attentive, but they tend to shuffle at certain key moments. They can also be very distracted by aeroplanes flying overhead during the performance. Your job as an actor is to keep them interested. Sometimes you can use those distractions in order to clarify your speeches and to provide interest. I used the passage of an aeroplane in a scene during our last performance. The passage fitted perfectly with a line that was referring to ‘mysterious things’. It was a unique experience and the audience loved it. Sometimes the show can be affected by distractions, but in this case it fitted well.


Reviewers also tend to notice what does and does not fit well. I must admit that I do read the reviews, but I can be pretty objective about them, putting a positive spin on almost anything. For instance, I had a reviewer say that the audience was in danger of turning Edmund into a ‘laughable rogue’. In a sense, I feel that they do. If I was in total control, then I would be responsible for fostering that reaction in the audience. However, I am not in total control. There is a relationship with the audience. Edmund needs them to acknowledge his ambitions for the play to progress. I do not see this review as a negative criticism, but as a positive one. It defines and acknowledges the actor's relationship with the audience.


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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