"Well, the problem with the Open Dress was that it wasn’t stormy in the sort of electric King Lear sense...it was incessant drizzle from start to finish! Nancy was very positive about that: we knew where the slippy areas were, what we had to change, what fight moves wouldn’t work..."
As performances get underway, Sirine takes us through rehearsals, run time and rain!
Time: 4 minutes 52 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Rona Kelly: I guess we can get started on the next instalment, the final instalment of our podcast series for King Lear. And today we’re joined by Sirine. How are you today?
Sirine Saba: I’m fine thank you. I’m quite tired; I didn’t sleep very well last night.
RK: Oh no!
RK: But we’re warming up this morning with a bit of a stretch, while we do the podcast today!
RK: The actor’s life! Let’s flash-back actually, because it’s been a while since we caught up. Let’s flash back to how Tech Week was. Can you take us through what Tech Week actually is?
SS: So after you’ve had your four or five (or sometimes three) weeks of rehearsal in the rehearsal room, using bits of costume here and there and whatever helps you create the role around you. Tech Week is when you move it out of the rehearsal room onto the stage and start using your full costumes, your full make up, your full hair. And sometimes at the Globe (because it’s not always the case), you rehearse with the lighting and the sound.
Our show is not hugely light and sound dependent, but there are some light and sound cues. So it’s about moving through the play that you’ve rehearsed in the rehearsal room very, very slowly, and stopping and inserting any sound cues or light cues. Or clarifying any blocking [and] stage moves which might not work anymore now that you’re in the space, or things that need to be clarified now that you’re in the space. Problems with uncomfortable shoes! You know, the Designer will be watching from out front seeing whether the costumes work well together, whether the things need more or less. It’s about the actor also feeling comfortable in their costume, so raising things like, ‘I can’t move my arm’. And it’s a chance for the Director to put together their vision, their complete vision for the play.
RK: Nice. And then we had the Open Dress. So you do a dress rehearsal for some of the Globe staff and friends. What was that like?
SS: Well, the problem with that evening was that it wasn’t stormy in the sort of electric King Lear sense, which would have been quite amazing! It was incessant drizzle from start to finish.
SS: And it was very rainy throughout the Technical Week, and actually Nancy [Meckler, Director] was very positive about that. She said, ‘It’s great, because we’ll know exactly what we would do’. If we had this lovely sunlit week for the technical rehearsals, we would have had a false sense of security. Whereas we knew where the slippy areas were, what we had to change, what fight moves wouldn’t work. But then yes, it carried on through into the dress rehearsal. And it was fine, it was just a little bit...we looked out and all we could see was this veil of rain, and the unfortunate people of the Globe and our friends who sat there watching us through a veil of rain!
Also, vocally we weren’t...well I can speak for myself, I wasn’t quite there yet vocally because it was the first time. My husband who came to the [Open] Dress said, ‘I couldn’t hear anything you were saying, and to be honest I couldn’t see you because of the rain!’ So, it was a little bit of a damp squib I thought, but we got through it. And it’s always a pleasure during a dress rehearsal (open or not) to think: we started at the beginning, we finished at the end, and nothing went wrong really. We didn’t have to stop the show, there were no accidents. So that was very gratifying. Yes, it’s always very gratifying when the first dress rehearsal, whatever its faults, the fact that you start and finish and it doesn’t run at four and a half hours is a plus!
RK: Exactly! That’s great for actors and audience at that point.
RK: Because King Lear is so long that I was talking to Kevin [McNally, King Lear] in a Q&A the other day, and he said the fact that it’s so clear and so accessible and it’s three hours five minutes is just remarkable.
SS: It is remarkable, yes. We’ve actually been slowing down a bit, we’ve been adding a minute or two to the running times of the acts in the last few performances.
RK: What kind of things do you add? Is it something that which you notice you’re doing?
SS: No, you don’t notice you’re doing [that]. Sometimes you just sit in a moment for too long. Also, we’ve all (and we’ve got to stop doing this), but we’ve all taken to dramatic pauses when an airplane goes above. Kevin very rightly did it once or twice and to great effect, and I think we’ve all started doing it now. Actually, I think we should just plough on and trust that we can be heard, so I think that that’s adding time as well. But you know, as a run goes on you, subconsciously start to enjoy some moments more than others, and start to maybe embellish more than you need to and more than is right for the show.
Thanks to Alison for the transcription of this interview.