Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 1

Andrew is delighted to be playing Gratiano – it's a great part, but quite complicated.

Transcript of Podcast

Andrew is delighted to be playing Gratiano – it's a great part, but quite complicated.

Gratiano is many things in the play: he is a clown, he is racist, he changes during the course of the play and falls in love with Nerissa very quickly.

At this stage Andrew is thinking about Gratiano all of the time – not just in rehearsal! Even the songs he hears make him think about the character – one song which made him think about Gratiano is Love Fool by The Cardigans.

Andrew feels that Gratiano speaks quickly – he often has a lot to say!

During the first weeks Andrew is asking himself lots of questions – What does Gratiano do in the play? Why is he there? At the moment Andrew thinks Gratiano might serve to show another side of friendship in the play. He is also a contrast to Bassanio and brings energy to every scene in which he is featured.

Andrew feels that Gratiano likes to play games and is considering carrying some dice as a prop. Dice in Elizabethan times were made out of pig skin and would act as further taunt to Shylock. There are aspects of Gratiano's character that are not attractive and Andrew must consider how to portray the character and the likely response to his performance from a modern audience in the Globe.

Andrew had a ‘character session’ on Gratiano – this is where the rest of the cast can ask him questions on Gratiano and give their opinions on the character. During the session the question that the company kept returning to was one of racism – what is racism and who is racist in the play?

The exercise was useful for Andrew as it allowed him to consider Gratiano from lots of different perspectives. At the end of the session the company could take turns to play Gratiano – giving the character their own interpretation. This was interesting for Andrew because it allowed him to see what other actors would do with the part and made him think about what would be different about his Gratiano.

During this period Andrew has also been considering the physicality of his character e.g. what part of the body does Gratiano ‘lead’ with? Or in other words which part of his body dominates the way he walks and moves? Andrew decided that for him Gratiano led from the upper body because he has high energy and is quite light (he is not a heavy person). Bassanio says that Gratiano he has a "skipping spirit"…so maybe Gratiano leads from his head.

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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