Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In his second blog post, Chu discusses rehearsing both the verse and physical work, and talks further about constructing his character.

Transcript of Podcast


We’ve been working with Giles [Block, Master of Verse] which I have found very exciting because I haven’t had this type of intensive training before. I always try and look for the meaning in the text and not think too much about the verse. Giles's methods are very different and I have realised that I have already formed habits with this text, even though we haven’t been working on it for very long. Giles has shown me a different way of looking for the meaning of the words. He uses the verse order to dictate which words should be emphasised. Trying out a new method of interpreting the text is exciting as well as constraining. I find that I spend too much time thinking about the mechanics of why this method is working rather than thinking about what it is telling me and trying to find the feelings within the words. I know that once I get to grips with this new method it will enable me to speak the verse more eloquently. At the moment I am just trying to get rid of all my old habits, and am taking the text back to its simplest form. So, sometimes I feel that I am not making a lot of progress, although I know that it will help me in the end.

Giles has been teaching us to use the text like a map. The verse tells you the words you should highlight, when to breathe, when to stress and when not to. It is very easy to get seduced by the iambic pentameter and just speak all the lines ‘de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum’. But it is also important to take note of the punctuation and the line endings. I find the punctuation particularly helpful. Giles says that the line endings are very important and should always be stressed. There are exceptions of course, but if you do stress the line endings you can discover new meanings in the verse. However, these are not rules, they are just guidelines. We are using the Penguin edition of the text. Giles marked the differences in punctuation between the Folio and the Penguin edition. That was very interesting because it reiterates this idea of guidelines rather than rules in the text.

During the first week of rehearsal Tim [Carroll, Master of Play] did a very different exercise on the verse with us. He made us read through the text ignoring all the punctuation. It was really just to see what the effect was and to make us aware of how much we do need the full stops and commas. It has been very interesting to try out all these different methods of approaching the text. It gives you all the tools to work with and you can pick and choose which method you think is appropriate. If you follow one rule all of the time acting can become robotic. It is important to remember that you are trying to create a character. Because of all the verse work we have been doing this week, I have found that I have spent less time looking at Malcolm as a character and have just been looking at the mechanics of the verse. I have realised that if I am going to perform Malcolm to the best of my ability then I have to take the time to better my understanding of the language.

Physical work

We’ve also been doing physical work with Sian [Williams, Choreographer], which has been a bit frustrating because I have an injury at the moment which means that I am not at my fittest. It has been interesting, because I’ve never been in a Shakespeare production before where movement is to be so important. Normally all the physical work I do is to help me develop a character and is done on my own. The movement work for Macbeth is about creating a language of movement for the ensemble.


Even though we haven’t been looking at character in rehearsal this week, I have still been spending time thinking about it. I have to remind myself not to become too set on my ideas because I haven’t worked them out with the other actors, and different people are bound to have different ideas. I am still thinking about grief. Malcolm's scenes deal with moral issues and philosophies; what is it to be a king? Is accession right and just? I am trying to personalise the role. I am asking myself what is it that makes Malcolm tick? He can appear to be a very two-dimensional character, representing good in a play about good and evil. I want to try and build a character that is real. I think it is the ideas about Malcolm, as a person, that will help to do this. That is why I keep thinking about the effect his father's death would have on him. Other questions I keep asking myself include; does Malcolm want to be king? How much does he want it? Why does he run away?

I have been thinking a lot about why Malcolm runs away. Was it because he was scared? Was it because there was danger everywhere and he didn’t know whom to trust? The problem that I am finding is that the answer to each question always seems to pose five other questions. I do have an idea about what I think the answer should be. I think he ran away because he needed time to go through his options and to find out whom he could trust.

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 may change frequently as the rehearsal process progresses.

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