Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Performance Notes 2

In his penultimate blog post, Paul discusses themes within the play, performing on the Globe stage, and his schedule as the season draws to a close.

Transcript of Podcast


If I had to make a choice between playing either the Witch or the Porter I think I would choose the Porter as I find him more interesting. I think that his scene is stranger and I find playing him to be more challenging. If I could pick any part to play in the whole production I think that it would have to be either Banquo or Macduff, as it would be a challenge to explore ways to make them stand out from other characters. Although, I should also say that Macbeth is a great part.

I was conducting some research on the curse of Macbeth for an interview. I read that at its premiere, King James I was not very happy about the representation of the witches (he disapproved of witchcraft). One of the rumours surrounding the play is that the incantations in it are real spells. Therefore, at the time that it was first performed, it may have been risqué to present the witches in a realistic form.

I have been thinking about how far it is possible to make Macbeth a puppet of fate. I think that he has to have some free will. If he doesn't, I don't think that modern audiences would find the character as interesting because I don't think that people believe in the idea of predestined fate in the same way that they used to. I don't think that people would believe the story if the witches had control over everything.

Performing on the Globe stage

I find that when I am performing on the Globe stage I do have to think about where I am standing. I try not to worry too much because I know that it is all right to be in most areas of the stage. I particularly like to be in the corners. I try to remember to stand either just upstage or downstage of the pillars because the area in between is a rather weak position. I always try, where possible, to move the action out to the sides of the stage and I do this with both the Porter and the Witch. I like to get myself to one area of the stage, such as a corner and stay there for a while. I find that if you move around too much it can become quite distracting to the audience.

Re-rehearsals, holidays, and the end of the season

About three weeks ago the Macbeth Company went into a period of re-rehearsal. This week was used to make minor changes to the production. For example, we have decided not to swing the platform anymore. We have tried to simplify the action in order to clarify our ideas. One of the main criticisms that we had about the production is that the first half contains too many images for the audience to process. There are more moments now when Macbeth is left alone on the stage. Previously, the witches had been on stage with him, but we all agreed that it is clearer if they are not there. We are trying to have only the necessary characters on stage at any given time in order to avoid muddling our audience. Another change is that Duncan now leaves the stage before he is murdered, leaving more to the audiences' imagination, which I think is a very good change.

We have just had a weeks holiday and when we got back it seemed as though everyone was buzzing with energy throughout the first few shows. I found that I didn't get my sudden resurgence of energy until I had been back a week. I am finding that at the moment my energy comes in ebbs and flows. At this point in the season I am not radically changing anything. I sometimes experiment with the intonation of a line, but this is really just in order for me to keep what I am doing fresh, without throwing anyone else off their performance.

We now only have one month left performing Macbeth. This season has gone so quickly!

In the previous two seasons that I have performed at the Globe, each Company has always performed two plays. This year we have only done one, but ironically everyone seems to be feeling more tired this year than normal. I think that this is because previously we didn't have any time to think about how tired we were because we were working too hard. I do miss the complete change of pace that you used to get working on a different play with a different director. The second show was always so much more relaxed than the first because the cast had all got to know each other and had become comfortable working on the Globe stage. However, it is very nice not to be working every single day.

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 and performance process progresses.

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