Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

This is Meredith's fourth blog entry for the 2003 production of Richard III; in it she talks patricularly about Lady Anne's grief, and playing Princess Elizabeth at the end of the play.

Transcript of Podcast

Lady Anne's grief

Now we’re starting to run the scenes, I can see that it is only in Lady Anne's second scene (IV.I) that she tells us how distraught and broken she is when we first see her. In IV.I, she has nothing left in her and wants to die:

Anointed let me be with deadly venom
And die ere men can say, ‘God save the Queen!’

She tells us of how she was feeling in I.II; she describes her ‘angel husband’ (iv.1.68) and his father Henry VI, the ‘dear saint which [she] then weeping followed’ (iv.1.69). She was emotionally shattered in I.II, and now, in IV.I, she is full of guilt and remorse at being fooled by Richard into marrying him. By running the play, doing both scenes in sequence, we have realized that Lady Anne is not a strong character when we first see her, but is simply fighting for survival. Barry [Kyle, Master of Play] once gave me a note in rehearsals, suggesting that in I.II, Lady Anne might be wanting to go to a party. He was suggesting that people mourn in different ways; some are very reflective, others go out and are very active. Lady Anne is the second of these, possibly because she has to be; she is fighting for survival, not only in the face of Richard but in the face of the whole court. At the moment, I am thinking that her very first lines could be read as being highly political. She says:

Set down, set down your honourable load –
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse –
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
Th’untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.

At the moment, I am stressing the word ‘Lancaster’; the line could be taken as a political statement as she is at that moment struggling to survive in a court now ruled by the House of York. Therefore, Lady Anne does not start that scene as a strong character and then break down, instead, she makes the mistake of fighting Richard on his terms, trading blow for blow, and she inevitably loses. Queens Margaret and Elizabeth are more careful; they don’t try to beat Richard at his own game and therefore survive. I think you can see this in IV.IV, when Richard asks Queen Elizabeth for Princess Elizabeth's hand in marriage. She confronts him, curses him and yet does not try to beat him on his terms. Before she leaves, she tells him to “Write to [her]” (IV.IV.428) to know the princess’ mind; she is very clever, just putting a little distance between Richard and her. She does not agree to bring her to him. Of course, Queen Elizabeth then turns around and takes her daughter in the other direction to Richmond. Her experience helps her to survive.

Princess Elizabeth

It's been decided that I should come on stage as the Princess Elizabeth in the last scene of the play. Although she doesn’t have any lines, I am still thinking about her character, but essentially, she is only there to symbolise Peace; Richmond states that their children will ‘Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace” (V.V.33). The moment is not about Elizabeth, or Elizabeth and Richmond, but about a new England, so I’m not spending that much time investigating the background of that character.

Playing the Princess does have quite a few practical implications; it means that I’m the only member of the company not involved in the Battle of Bosworth. As soon as I’ve come off stage as the ghost of Lady Anne, I’ll only have a very short time to get back into full costume as Princess Elizabeth. It should be about 7-10 minutes, and I hope that will be enough! Barry [Kyle] and the costume department are talking about it at the moment. Everyone seems to be saying ‘we’ll leave it until the tech’ (technical rehearsal). I hope it all works out! The tech is now very close, and I’m really curious to see what happens during a tech in the Globe, as it's an open space with no electric lighting. It's going to be a chance to check everything works in terms of entrances, exits, timings, music cues and, of course, costume changes. Hopefully, there’ll also be time to play different scenes a couple of times on the stage itself, as after that week, we’ll be into performances!

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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