Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 1

This is Paul's first blog post. This week he discusses missing the first week of rehearasals, his first impressions of the Globe stage, and making his two characters, Theseus and Oberon, distinct.

Transcript of Podcast


I missed the first week of rehearsals, as I went to Canada with a show called Nightsongs that I’ve just finished at the Royal Court Theatre. It’s been nice to catch up with the company, and I don’t feel like I’ve fallen behind them, so all’s going well.

I missed some of the character work Mike [Alfreds, Master of Play] has done with the others, using lists and so forth. At the moment, we are starting to rehearse scenes in sequence, but in a fairly superficial way. Mike encourages us to build up our characters slowly, layer by layer, if you like, so our portrayal of our character is constantly developing. At the moment, we are working on that first layer scene by scene, working out what our character wants, and how they relate to the other characters in each scene. First, we try the scene concentrating on our relationship to one other character onstage, and then in subsequent tries we broaden our focus to include more of the characters involved in that scene. This is all part of the process of building up our character.

First impressions of the Globe

I was doing a production of Macbeth in the early ‘90s, and the director brought the company to the Globe to try some scenes here. The theatre wasn’t quite finished at that time, but it was nearly there and I have to admit that, as an actor, I wasn’t that impressed. This was because I treated the space like a studio theatre. Now, I realise that this theatre requires its actors to be far more aware of the space they are performing in than they would have to be in a conventional theatre. The space imposes its needs, (which aren’t necessarily restrictions) on us, for example, there is a need to maintain a reasonable distance between actors on that stage, even in intimate scenes, so that they can be seen and contribute fully to the action of the play. What I do remember noticing when I came here with that Macbeth, however, was how fantastic it felt to do a soliloquy in the Globe, where the actor-audience relationship is so involving and dynamic.

Theseus and Oberon

I’m playing Theseus and Oberon, two characters who I think are very different. Theseus is a very mature, wise person, whereas Oberon is more instinctive. Oberon knows what he wants, and pursues it irrespective of right and wrong; unlike Theseus, he doesn’t concern himself with philosophy and higher thinking. I’m slightly worried about making both characters distinctive so the audience know who I am at any one moment, as I’ll be wearing the same costume throughout the play. At the moment, I’m playing with different accents, keeping my own [Scottish] accent for Oberon, and using a standard English accent for Theseus. I don’t know if I’ll keep using these accents; we’ll see how it goes. The differences between Theseus and Oberon also seem to be mirrored in their relationships with Hippolyta and Titania. In both cases, there is a distance between the lovers, despite the passionate nature of their relationships. The difference is that for Theseus and Hippolyta, that distance is self-imposed, maintained by their own self-restraint and the promise of their wedding day to come. Though they are distant, they are in harmony. Oberon and Titania, however, are not; the distance between them comes from their refusal to settle their differences. Still, there are a lot of similarities, which I’m looking forward to investigating in the next few weeks.

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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