Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

In her third blog post, Eve discusses rehearsing with Jasper Britton, who plays Macbeth.

Transcript of Podcast

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

I have spent a lot of time having individual sessions with Jasper [Britton, Macbeth]. We did our scenes in lots of different ways with specific tasks to accomplish, which is always very good. Tim [Carroll, Master of Play] wants to be able to not set anything particularly for the actual performances, literally not to ‘block’ the scenes. I find that very scary, as well as exciting.

We looked at the scene just after the murder when Macbeth has ‘done the deed’. First of all, we had to just say it as fast as we could, which is just a good warm-up. Then Tim asked us to say the lines so that he couldn’t hear them. He followed us around, so we had to speak very quietly but with intensity. The other person needed to hear what you were saying even if Tim wasn’t supposed to. At the end of the exercise, Tim said that he could hear mostly all of it, and how interesting it was to realise that you actually need very little volume and stress. What makes things clear is the intensity with which the lines are said.

I write everything down in a notebook because there are so many things that are really good and I don’t want to forget them. I always find that you go through a scene many different and fantastic ways, and then as soon as you have to act it in a run, it can go completely ‘pear-shaped’. All the specific detailed work can be forgotten.

We have worked on scenes trying to identify one ‘action’ or intent each for the whole scene in order to give it more focus. Jasper's action was trying to frighten me and mine was trying to belittle him. These actions yielded some interesting things in terms of the power balance and the reality of the scene. Lots of these exercises are about trying to make it real. Any time the scene works, I know it has worked because Tim says, ‘That was very real, that was just like a couple’. All this work is trying to get away from doing ‘Macbeth acting’. You can’t believe this situation would ever happen; whereas, in fact, it's written so precisely and so well observed in terms of how people relate to each other.

After the murder, the conversation that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have is terribly banal. You think that after a murder the conversation might be huge and extreme.

We have experimented playing Act 2 Scene 2 with me acting hysterically while Jasper remained calm, which supposedly reverses the expectations of the scene. The scene worked. For me, hysteria is definitely there and influences my desire to organise and to say, ‘come on, get a grip, wash your hands.’ That line comes from some level of absolute hysteria. It was interesting to see Macbeth being played very cold. Probably because it wasn’t the reaction Lady Macbeth would expect from him, which makes her more hysterical. It was almost because Macbeth had performed the murder, he had reached another level of understanding about it and because Lady Macbeth hadn’t actually done the deed, she was in an absolute panic.

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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