At this point, just over half way through the run of the play, The Merchant of Venice was given a 3 week break from performance.
Transcript of Podcast
At this point, just over half way through the run of the play, The Merchant of Venice was given a 3 week break from performance. This was to give the actors in the White Company the opportunity to rehearse full time for their second play of the season, The Honest Whore and to open the production with a week of performances, before the play went into repertory with The Merchant of Venice. This means that Andrew has been very busy with rehearsal, technical rehearsal and previews.
As the company had not performed The Merchant of Venice for some while they were called to rehearsal before the show for a line run of the play (for which the actors just say their lines, without movement). This helped all of the actors to think about their characters and the words and rhythm of the play.
Andrew has found that his work on The Honest Whore has made him appreciate the language and structure of Shakespeare's plays. He has missed the linguistic fun of performing in The Merchant of Venice and his character's relationship with the audience. Andrew had also forgotten how much energy it takes to perform the role of Gratiano – as his role in The Honest Whore is less physically demanding.
The break from The Merchant of Venice has also caused some subtle changes in the production and individual performances- these might only be noticeable to the actors but they are important, as they help to keep the play fresh as the run enters it's final phase. For example during the trial scene Jack Shepherd, who plays Antonio, now stands downstage of Andrew and weeps – something which he did not do before. This slightly changes the focus and pace of the scene and Andrew must subtly alter his performance to respond to and build on Antonio's reaction.
In a recent performance a member of the audience told Gratiano to ‘shut up’ during his long speech in Act 1 Scene 1. Some of the audience gasped in reaction to this comment, while others laughed. Andrew was then able to play with the audience and use this incident to build a relationship between the audience and the character of Gratiano. Andrew feels that it is important for the audience to engage actively with the play, otherwise the experience they have at the theatre can be no different from watching television.
After the season finishes at the Globe in September, Andrew will be working with English Touring Theatre playing Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew. He will be traveling around the UK, playing in various regional theatres until December. Rehearsals for the play will begin before the end of the Globe season, so Andrew will be rehearsing The Taming of the Shrew in addition to playing in two plays at the Globe.
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.