Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Pavilion Gardens, Derbyshire

The tour has been completely all consuming. I have no sense of what day of the week it is. I haven’t read a newspaper or watched the television or listened to the radio since the tour started. We just keep pootling along, in a sort of touring cocoon.

Transcript of Podcast

My good sweet mouse, I commend me heartily to you...

The tour has been completely all consuming. I have no sense of what day of the week it is. I haven’t read a newspaper or watched the television or listened to the radio since the tour started. We just keep pootling along, in a sort of touring cocoon.

We are in Buxton, performing in a beautiful park with ornate Georgian bandstands, pavilions, a river and sculptured landscape. Yesterday, in the park, the weather was fair. It was the mildest day we’ve had so far, which isn’t saying much! We performed there last night, but about 2 o’clock this afternoon a decision was made that because the weather was forecast to be completely unpredictable we would make the decision to relocate. We moved into a church, a five minute walk from the park. So we’ve had two different venues already and we’ll have a third tomorrow because, it being Sunday, the church won’t be available tomorrow.

The Church was very atmospheric, but I think the building affected the audience. They were sitting in seats with bibles in the back, and they were very serious and sincere. Maybe they felt they weren’t meant to laugh at the sex jokes; either that or they weren’t funny! I couldn’t really tell. The audience in park laughed, they were up for a laugh and they loved all the smutty bits.

Today, being inside, is the first time I have sweated during a performance. Normally I would be dripping when I come off stage. In an indoor space you have a much better sense of every pin that drops. When you are outside you are competing with the wind, people cycling by or, people playing in the park, even the river that’s running by behind the back of the set. Unless you get a big laugh at a certain moment you can’t always tell what an audience is doing, whereas indoors you can immediately sense that they are having fun or they are getting bored. Given a choice I would prefer to perform inside, because the challenge outside is to deal with the environment. Massive vocal energy is required just to be heard, and only once you can be heard can you then start to refine the acting. You are always thinking: ‘Am I being heard? Am I being clear vocally?’ It is very tiring on the voice. As soon as you go inside, even into a decent sized church where you have to be quite precise with your diction because of the acoustic, none-the-less, you can hear yourself, you can hear the audience, the atmosphere is tangible and what you can start to do is refine the acting immediately.

These constantly changing spaces make the play a kaleidoscope of emotional moments, with peaks that have to be hit and troughs that have to be reached. There’s a sort of emotional landscape within the piece, but how that is actually embodied and physicalised will have to change because the spaces change. It is somewhat like improvisation with a known text, it is very interesting.

My costumes are beginning to show signs of wear and tear. The skirt, that I wear as the Friar’s cassock and the Nurses’ skirt, is getting stains on it, probably from mud, or grease from the van. There is not always time to wash things properly. It has also got a few little snags on it. I like it. It makes it look more interesting. You start to own them more and you get attached to them in a different sort of way.

My characters are changing or developing, not necessarily as a result of a direct impact of one space or another, but more as a result of having time to practise. We are rehearsing every day at the moment because our venue keeps changing and although it might not be an acting rehearsal, there’s a ticking thing inside you thinking about your character. Daily rehearsals, before a show, have an impact because you have a chance to think: ‘I will change how I do that scene, because I have a bigger journey to come on’ or ‘I am that much closer now to the person I am in a scene with.’ You can reinvent it a fresh. It means that you can claim the right to say: ‘The play is not set in stone. Let’s make it better.’

Yesterday the stage manager put her back out and wasn’t able to do anything. Today the assistant director got food poisoning from the meal he had last night. At first when things went awry, it really worried me and made me feel nervous, but now whatever happens we just deal with it. You just have to survive. You have to get very tough. All normal expectations of the way things work are being eroded. I mean, today we were trying to set the props at the top of the show and the front of house people were trying to let the audience in!

It feels like we have been on the road much longer than a week and a half. In Buxton we are all living in the same cottage, we are eating together, we travel to work together, we got home together and we have shared bedrooms. We even share the same bathroom. It is tough. You really don’t get a lot of time to yourself.

… And so sweet mouse, farewell, and brook our long journey with patience,

Eliot Shrimpton

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