Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Production Notes 1

Now that the play has gone into performance it is important to Andrew to constantly try new ideas and experiment with his performance.

Transcript of Podcast

Now that the play has gone into performance it is important to Andrew to constantly try new ideas and experiment with his performance. Andrew feels that it is vital to do this even if his ideas do not work.

The relationship between Gratiano and Nerissa has developed a great deal in performance – the audience relate to their story in contrast to Portia and Bassanio’s. Andrew now delivers the speech in which he declares his love for Nerissa to the audience rather than the characters on stage.

One technique Andrew uses to keep focused during the performance is to imagine the audience as different types of crowd or people. For example he might imagine them as people in Portia's household, or as a massive court. All of the actors have to be very careful to play to all of the audience and not just the groundlings standing in the yard. Andrew tries hard to look up during speeches to address the audience seated in the upper gallery – there are practical problems, however, as Andrew's hat is prone to fall off when he does this!

Whenever Andrew feels happy with an aspect of his performance he looks at ways to change it in an effort to avoid complacency. It is particularly difficult for Andrew to change those elements of his performance which generate laughs from the audience, but he feels that he should never expect an audience to laugh at a certain moment just because a previous audience reacted in that manner.

When Jessica and Lorenzo enter in Act 3 Scene 2 Gratiano remarks:

"But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel!"

The actors have been disturbed by the audience's reaction to this line, as audience members often laugh at Jessica. Andrew found this reaction very difficult to deal with initially, but now is able to handle it with more confidence. The way the audience reacts definitely influences the tone and focus of the actor's performances. Andrew also feels that the audience may be laughing at Gratiano rather than Jessica – previously in the play they have seen him dressed as a rabbit and as Nerissa's suitor – hardly a figure to be taken seriously.

After the first night of a play the director's daily contract with the company ends. It is customary for directors to see the show occasionally and afterwards hold note sessions for the actors. Andrew feels that sometimes actors change their performance if they know the director is ‘in’ – Andrew is less likely to try an new idea, but will give a ‘safe’ performance – one which he hopes will please the director.

The trial scene still provides an interesting challenge for Andrew. Gratiano is upset during the scene but also taunts Shylock. Andrew is experimenting with use of volume levels during the scene to help him convey the range of Gratiano's emotions.

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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