"Costume is super, super important to me. Rosanna the Designer and I were very much in sync with how we wanted to tell the story of who Goneril is through costume...Goneril is wearing this very pale pink, very delicate vintage nightie. And I really, really wanted her to look vulnerable, I didn’t want it to be signalled that she was wicked..."
As performances begin, Emily discusses bringing the show before an audience, performing to the groundlings, and the importance of costume.
Time: 4 minutes 4 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Rona Kelly: And then, after Tech we had an Open Dress Rehearsal, before you actually brought it before a preview audience.
Emily Bruni: So again, that was a completely brand new experience for me. I’d never performed outdoors, there was a wall of rain between us and the audience! I’ve never, ever performed to an audience in a first dress. Usually the idea of a first dress is that it’s for you, it’s for you to put it all together in your head. So put what you’ve been doing in the rehearsal room, in[to] the performance. You’re remembering your lines, remembering where you enter and exit, along with wearing your costume, your new shoes, getting used to the light, the sound, where the loos are backstage, the route from the changing [room], it’s putting all that [in]. So it was really interesting not to be able to claim that entirely for oneself, but to have to...also offer it out to an audience. So in some ways it created more pressure, because we felt really not ready, which we had a right to feel. There’s no reason why you should feel ready on a first dress. But in another way, it was really nice to have people there, because it made it a sort of simpler process. It became really important to convey what we were doing to the people who were listening.
RK: It was a good step in the process.
EB: It added pressure and it removed it at the same time.
RK: And then you had the first public performance. What was that like, actually getting the Groundlings in there for the first time?
EB: I mean lots of actors talk about the sort of ‘Rock Star’ effect of working on this stage. And it is that. It’s an enormous amount of people and they’re very, very close to you. So I’ve played other big, big spaces, but there’s not the feeling of intimacy that your get here, because (as I’ve said) it’s almost in the round and you have people at your feet. And actually, the acoustic is fantastic. There are this masses and masses of resonance in this space. I’m not an expert, but possibly because of the wood and the roof over the stage creates a lot of resonance. So it’s a very exciting combination, because you’re working on an epic scale but with a lot of intimacy as well.
RK: And like you said with the Tech Week, you get in your costume for the first time. You get to feel what it’s like. Are you may be an actor who getting that costume on adds a bit to the character? It’s kind of that final piece.
EB: Oh, costume is super, super important to me. And actually, it’s usually the most unstressful part of the experience. It’s the creative part which has no fear in it for me, except on the very, very rare occasions you might be working with someone with different ideas to you. And that’s almost never happened, then it can be stressful. In this instance, Rosanna [Rosanna Vize, Designer] and I were very much in sync with how we wanted to tell the story of who Goneril is through costume. And you’ll notice that we’re all wearing underwear and that’s the concept for the show, and then we layer on pieces of costume which tell a story about the character’s found pieces of costume. Goneril is wearing this very pale pink, very delicate vintage nightie. And I really, really wanted her to look vulnerable, I didn’t want it to be signalled that she was wicked.
I wanted that story to be told that, some of the behaviour that’s extreme, comes out of a sense of vulnerability. And in the first half of the play she’s trussed up in a homemade, high collared, little cape, with trussed up hair. And then after the affair with Edmund, the cape comes off, the hair comes down, she’s wearing something much looser and freer. And that's one of the tragedies of the character, she experiences connection (or what she thinks is connection), and the feeling of love and certainly of lust, and it’s taken away from her.
Thanks to Janet for the transcription of this interview.