Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In his second blog post, Mark discusses how his characters have developed, the difficulties of transferring to the Globe stage and the themes of the play.

Transcript of Podcast

Rehearsals this week 

In the last week we have continued to work through the play with scripts in our hands, looking at the units and sometimes speaking the titles out loud. We are just telling the story, thinking about what is happening, who the character is talking to and what the character wants. We are not looking at the emotional aspects yet. Once we have read a unit with the script we then put the script down and try and do it from memory. It is surprising how much we remember. We are currently nearly at the end of Act 5.

Character Development

We’ve also been carrying on with the character sessions. I have now had one for Cloten as well as Posthumus. I only have the doctor, Cornelius, to do. I keep very detailed notes of each session although I do not rely on them now as much as I used to. I find these days that I like to be surprised and find out new things. I think if I take too many notes and ‘lock down’ everything in my performance, there will be no room for other things to come in. I have to be careful though, otherwise I might become vague and not have anything to say about my characters. I am getting more confident that things will happen and that I will have ideas.

In Cloten’s character session we decided that Cloten’s animal was either a slug or a rhinoceros – perhaps just a very strong slug! I think he is probably quite dangerous. The King keeps saying that he wants to send him to war, so he can’t be completely useless. He reminds me of a football player. He is very caught up in his appetites. He is also a gambler and always trying to get money. He is obsessed with fashion. Even though he plans to murder Posthumus and rape Imogen the worst thing he thinks he will do is tare up Posthumus’ clothes in front of Imogen’s eyes.

I think that his centre is somewhere in his neck or mouth. To use Laban’s ‘efforts’ he is a strong, indirect and sustained character. When he becomes broken he has a great potential to lash out. I think that he is a very similar character to Caliban in The Tempest. He is an amusing character who has a great potential for danger. He is described, by Imogen, as a ‘Puttock’, which is a particularly low type of bird. His objective in the play is to get Imogen. He wants her money and her power and I think that he thinks she is very beautiful. She is like a ‘pin up’ to him.

The character sessions have meant that when I stand up to play Cloten, or any of my characters, I have all the evidence I need. I can look at a page and remember that the character sessions showed me that Cloten was terribly insecure, so however bold the lines seem I remember that over the whole play the evidence is to the contrary. The evidence has led me to certain conclusions about my characters. I know that I am not making decisions based on one scene and that I always have the larger picture in mind.

At the end of each rehearsal session Mike [Alfreds, Master of Play] always gives us half and hour to just be our character, doing whatever we like. I find this very rewarding as it allows me to get much deeper into the role.

Adapting to the Globe stage

We did an exercise this week that has helped us to think about using the space on the Globe stage. We began in pairs by holding a stick, similar to a broom handle, between us. We held it in the air with just one finger each. We then began moving around the room without letting it fall to the ground. We began to notice the space between us. We then repeated the exercise with bamboo sticks of the same length followed by bamboo sticks that were twice as long. Finally we took away the sticks and spoke dialogue as if the long sticks were still between us. This exercise made us very aware of the space. We then transferred the last part of this exercise onto the Globe stage.

From this exercise and from working in previous seasons on the Globe stage, we have discovered where the strong places are on it. There is a triangle between each corner and the pillar closest to it that is a very strong area to stand in. If you are in the triangle, then the people at the sides and at the front can see you equally well. The space in-between the pillars is known as the ‘Valley of Death’ because it is very hard to be seen by lots of members of the audience from that position. It is useful for some moments in a play, but it tends to be over used. Actors often seem to be pulled to the area, perhaps because they are so used to working with Proscenium Arches.


This week we have also been talking about some of the themes in the play and how our characters relate to them. We think that the play is essentially about loyalty. All the characters are related to loyalty in some manner. Either marital loyalty, sexual loyalty, national loyalty or parental loyalty. The play also seems to be about seeing things, or not seeing things. Posthumus becomes blind to Imogen’s virtue. Although a comedy, death also seems to be a theme. Many of the characters are mourners who have lost parents or someone close to them.


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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