Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 2

Emma talks about a typical day's rehearsal and how she will use voice and movement to distinguish between her characters.

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Time: 5 minutes, 51 seconds

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Can you briefly talk through a typical day’s rehearsal?

So our typical rehearsal day is from 10 to 6. Usually in the morning, if we’re doing any movement, we’ll do a warm up maybe – what will happen is the night before we will have our call decided. Our stage manager will email us with a list of all the things we’ll do during the day, so it might say from 10 to 12 we will work on Act 1, scene 1, for example, and it will say who has to come in for that. And we will read the lines first out loud to test whether we know the lines and then we will get up on our feet and try and just do it and see what happens. And as we do that Rebecca, who’s are director, will say, “maybe try that over there” or “be less angry” or “try a different accent” or “you’re too much like your other character”; feed in general advice to the point where the scene is more or less blocked, which means we all know where we’re standing at whatever point. And then we will just run it a few times to try and cement that into our heads and we’ve been doing that working through the whole play. And then also, along side of that, we’ve been having music calls and calls with Sian, who’s our choreographer, to add in dances, and movement sequences, and slapstick sequences. And so we have had Alex Silverman, our composer, helping us with sound effects, as well as music and Sian helping us with choreography and characterisation a little bit.

How does the rehearsal process differ for this show compared to another Globe tour?

It’s not that different to As You Like It, which was the last show I did, because it’s a very similar show; it’s 8 actors producing the play, the music - all of it is us, as well as the stage management supporting us through that. So it’s not that different, but the one major difference is that we have a week less to do it. So we haven’t done that much text work round the table. We did have a few days to make sure we all knew what we were saying and to get any confusions out of the way about what particular words or phrases mean by paraphrasing the script. And we’re having to be off book, which means learning your lines so you’re not carrying a script before we start working on a scene. Actually I found that very difficult but it’s very helpful because you then rehearse the scene looking in someone’s eyes, not at a page. So that’s the main difference really, that we’ve had less time so we’ve had to change parts of the process slightly. How are you finding the intense rehearsal schedule? I’m quite lucky in that I don’t have a great amount of material to learn and digest, I’ve only got a few scenes really as my various characters. But there’s a lot of extraneous stuff around that, so as I was saying: dancing, music, sound effects, where you’re supporting the rest of the play. So I don’t have huge amounts of time off, but it’s been quite intense, we’ve been here all day, every day pretty much, with a few evenings and weekends as well; Saturdays we’ve been rehearsing.

Have you done any specific text work for your character?

We worked a bit with Giles who is the text consultant here. We did an exercise where we read the play out loud and he listened to the way we were saying it and he, after every scene, would say, “I think you could put more stress on that word or you could ping that word more because it’s a beautiful and unusual word that sticks out in that speech - look at the rhythm of that line.” So he’s helped us with text work in that way. But most of my text work, personal text work, was done when I was learning my lines, just because you really have to understand how a sentence is constructed and why a character might chose to use a specific word. And that’s really interesting when you get to hear the play more and learn the play better, you start to hear echoes of characters using other peoples language, whether on purpose of inadvertently, and that’s really interesting.

Have you done any specific voice work for your character?

Most of my work really has been trying to decide on accents for my different characters, or a timbre for the voice, so that you can distinguish between them. I mean obviously I will have costumes as well so that will help, but I think it’s really good to have something immediate on the ear as well as the eye, that helps an audience tune in, especially as there are so many changes and so few of us playing so many characters; so that’s been my main work. Balthasar is a little bit deeper and quite well spoken because he is very high status. Emilia is quite heightened RP because she has a lot of authority and you want to transmit that idea. The Courtesan, at the moment, is from Manchester I think but she may end up coming from London because we’ve already got quite a few northern characters and it may just do something strange to the location. We’ve got this real melting pot of accents, so we’ve got: Fergel’s Irish; Bill’s London RP; we’ve got a character from the West Country; one’s slightly Geordie but only a slight, just as a lilt; we’ve got a northern Yorkshire man. So we are trying to get the idea of a melting pot because Ephesus is a port full of people who have travelled all over the world; that’s why we’ve gone for a real range of voices.

Have you done any specific movement work for your character?

Sian has been helping us with the choreography and I have a little moment as the Courtesan where I have to appear out of her house, the Porcupine it’s called, and there’s a little bit of saxophone music to announce my arrival, so I have a little sultry dance to present myself to the audience and the characters. And that’s quite fun and Sian helps me with that, and it’s about making her kind of low, and sinewy and mellifluous, if that can be a description of the body. And then Emilia is very upright, and very still and uses very few gestures. And Balthasar is a bit of a posturing man, so he’s got a few positions which he likes to adopt, which again is a high head and strong back. And it’s just about allowing the picture on stage to work as a whole.

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