Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In her second blog post, Patricia discusses how her ideas have developed over the course of rehearsals, Goneril's relationships with other characters, and her costumes.

Transcript of Podcast


My ideas and work are gaining more of a structure. I now have a better idea of Goneril and her relationship with Lear. I have decided that Goneril is a person who wants to be loved because she feels she never truly has been. I think that Goneril thinks that her father does not love her, he prefers Regan and Cordelia. I have also decided that Goneril is in a loveless marriage. This might be the reason why she turns to Edmund - for love.

I am more confident with the language of the play, after working with Giles [Block, Master of Verse]. The language seems to hold clues about the characters. An example of this is in Act I Scene IV. In this scene Goneril is telling Lear that his behaviour is unacceptable. She is trying to have a grown up conversation with Lear, who will not listen to her. Her language is quite formal at first, which is demonstrated by her repetition of ‘sir’. As her mood changes, so does her language. In her speech, there is a lack of punctuation at the end of the lines. If a line does not end with punctuation, it means that the last word of that line is intended to be emphasised. It also indicates that the person was unsure how to end the sentence. I believe that punctuation in the middle of a line means that as you finish one sentence, you immediately begin a new one. This has led me to believe that Goneril is not in control of her emotions and the situation as she has been in previous scenes. Goneril seems to be deeply lonely, but her language is always ‘controlled’. However in this scene Goneril's speech patterns are broken. From working on this scene with Julian [Glover, King Lear] we have decided that both father and daughter are very similar to each other. They both have bad tempers.


Goneril does not trust anybody. I have been discussing her marriage with Harry [Gostelow] who is playing the Duke of Albany. We both think that the marriage may have been arranged. We have also speculated whether the marriage has been consummated. Goneril and Albany do not appear to be in an intimate relationship.

I have also been exploring the relationship between Goneril and Oswald. There is an intimacy that exists between these two characters. Goneril trusts Oswald in a way that is not demonstrated in her relationships with the other characters. We must be careful when developing the female roles in King Lear, as there are only three of us. Cordelia is considered as the ‘pure’ sister. Regan seems to have a good marriage with the Duke of Cornwall, however she is clearly disturbed in some area of her life. I did not want Goneril to be ‘tagged’ as the promiscuous sister simply because there was a need to define her nature. Instead I am eager to explore other areas that may explain her situation.

The only way in which I can understand the situation between Goneril and Edmund is by considering the idea that Goneril is inexperienced romantically. This is portrayed in the way that she gets very ‘giddy’ and jealous towards Edmund, in a way that reveals an immaturity in her nature.


The costumes for the sisters will be skirts with corset tops. These dresses start off stiff, with high necks, and look ‘closed in’. This changes as the play progresses. I am not wearing trousers at the end, however the costume must suggest that I am going into battle. Goneril wants to look as good as possible (taking into account the situation) as she is in love with Edmund and wants to present herself in a feminine way.

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.

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