This is Patricia's sixth blog post. This week she discusses how the play and her character have progressed in performance, the differences between different audiences, and, in preparation for performing in Tokyo, her own experiences of travel.
Transcript of Podcast
We are still performing six shows per week, and so we are tired. It is quite difficult, particularly as I am also studying at the moment. Next week we will not be performing any shows, as we will be re-rehearsing the play. I am hoping that we will not be called in all day, every day, so that I get some free time to complete two essays. I have to write an essay on memory and I cannot remember anything!
The show has now settled down. It is solid, secure, we are getting very good audiences and the sun has been out. It is a bit miserable performing when it is cold. However, when it is raining it does suit the mood of the play. King Lear is not a cheerful play, so if the weather is gloomy it is easier to tell the story. It is not very easy if you are freezing on stage, or having the rain pelt down on you in the Yard.
Stewart Pearce [Master of Voice] came to see the show, and he thought that it had moved on after not seeing it for a week. He felt that Felicity [Dean, Regan] and I had become more confident in the second half, when we have to act cruel and nasty. This was something that I was not aware of; it is very useful if someone else points it out.
Next week we will be re-rehearsing, and we may get to change things. The reason it was planned was because the company was going to Cambridge, to perform the play. However, we are no longer going. If you are re-rehearsing it is good to rehearse during the day, and perform during the night to see if the ideas and changes work. I think that having a week off will do the show a lot of good. We will all return with fresh eyes and more energy.
I have not yet come to the stage with this play where I do not feel nervous. In the first half of the play I have to talk non-stop in short bursts. That is quite a scary thing to do. It is easier to have a bigger part, which is spread out. The other day I went on stage and was in the middle of a speech, when suddenly I had no idea of what to say next. I stood still for about five seconds, but it felt like five minutes. This only happened a few days ago, so I cannot become complacent. My mum and sister will be coming down from Scotland to see the show and I think that will be scary.
Experimenting with Goneril
At the moment I am working on making Goneril's character more human. I thought it would be interesting to experiment with her character. One idea I have tried on a few occasions is to not smile in the performance, until I am with Edmund. By doing this, I thought that it would emphasise the idea that my true happiness comes from being with him. I am also thinking about my scene with Oswald in Act I Scene III. I am interested in making the scene appear as if it is not prepared, as I want Goneril's behaviour to seem like a genuine reaction to what is happening. If someone is annoyed, they react in a way that is not prepared. I am always conscious of people thinking that Goneril and Regan are evil. I dispute that. I think that they are extreme types of human beings who are very damaged.
I am trying to get a different costume for the end of the play (I am hoping to get a coat). I have spoken to Barry [Kyle, Master of Play] about this, who has spoken to the designer. I want to look more like a soldier.
Japan and travelling
Barry has been to Japan to look at the Globe Theatre in Tokyo, as we will be going there for two weeks at the beginning of October. I think it is a fantastic opportunity of a lifetime. Maybe in the re-rehearsal week we will discuss what will have to change in order to work in the space. The Macbeth Company is going to Italy.
I have travelled to many places. When I left school I went to London for one year, with a friend of mine who also wanted to be an actress. I worked backstage in the Opera House, Covent Garden during the day and in a sandwich shop in the evenings and weekends. I saved up all my money and went travelling for five years. I went to America, Honolulu and Australia (for one year, picking grapes). I then went to Europe via Singapore and Karachi, Pakistan. Once in Europe, I lived in Frankfurt, Germany for ten months. My friend was living in Amsterdam, and I went to visit her for the weekend. I ended up staying there for three years!
I did a lot of work with theatre companies. I started off doing stage management and lighting. This progressed to small acting parts and then developed into bigger acting parts. I then auditioned for drama schools in London, and got accepted. That was when I returned.
Audiences around the world are different. Even around this country they are very different. Over the past few years I have done many national tours. If you go up north people are less reserved. I think that people from Scotland (where I am from), Wales and Ireland treat going to the theatre differently from people in England (particularly London). I did a Shakespeare Festival in Sicily, and we were the only English speaking company there. The people out there treated us like popstars! They were grabbing us on stage to kiss us, because they had enjoyed the performance so much.
One of the fears of the company was that the audience would join in with the performance too much, and it would become like a pantomime. This is appropriate if you are doing a comedy, but not a tragedy like King Lear. You do not want someone hissing at you when you come on the stage as Goneril, which is what happened to me the other day. I gave the chap a very hard look and he did not do it again!
People stand in the yard for over three hours, sometimes in the baking heat and other times in the pouring rain. I find this very admirable. If the audience is noisy you find that you have to concentrate more. During bad weather I find that I have to try even harder for the sake of the audience. It is one thing to get lost in a play when the physical conditions are good, but it is another thing if you are standing up, wearing a rain mac, you are damp, sore and the rain is deafening you. As an actor you have to be in the ‘moment’ to engage people, otherwise they leave.
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.