Shakespeare's Globe

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During July, and then again in August, the White Company had a two week break from performing The Comedy of Errors while they prepared to open Augustine’s Oak.

Transcript of Podcast

During July, and then again in August, the White Company had a two week break from performing The Comedy of Errors while they prepared to open Augustine’s Oak. This production of The Comedy of Errors requires a great deal of physical and emotional energy from the performers. In the same way that an athlete might feel out of shape after not competing for two weeks, Yolanda and the cast felt little out of practice during the first performance after the break.

After the break, the cast gathered together for a ‘run-through’ with the director, Kathryn Hunter. After running their lines the cast ‘warmed-up and played around to get back into the spirit of the show’. Kathryn also shared some thoughts with the actors, and gave them specific notes. The cast then rehearsed their Turkish Dances and songs with the musicians.

In addition to playing Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, Yolanda also plays Bertha in Augustine’s Oak. Augustine’s Oak is the first new play to be commissioned for The Globe Theatre. The plot revolves around the story of St. Augustine and his mission to forge a peaceful union between the Christians of the Celtic Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Peter Oswald, the playwright, wrote the play in verse, although the verse reflects a contemporary style of speech.

For example in Act 1 scene 2 of Augustine’s Oak, Yolanda’s character Bertha delivers this speech to her daughter, Tata:

You should begin to worry slightly now
So as to keep from having to be worried
A great deal later. You are nearly twenty;
None of the princes in this land is Christian.
I was a prize beyond your father’s dreams –
To get the daughter of the King of Paris,
Was, for the King of Kent quite fortunate;
You are the daughter of the King of Kent,
Therefore, not worth much on the continent.
So think how you, a Christian from the womb,
Will cope with being married to a pagan,
As I have had to. Watch your mother now,
In case she dies or goes insane tomorrow.

Yolanda finds that Augustine’s Oak is ‘a very different play from The Comedy of Errors’. Kathryn Hunter, the director of The Comedy of Errors, focused a great deal on movement in rehearsals, while because of the nature of the play, Tim Carroll, the director of Augustine’s Oak, concentrated largely on the text, using occasional improvisation.

The week before a play opens officially and reviewed by the press, there are a series of preview performances. During this period the director still gives notes and has time to make any last minute changes after seeing the play performed before an audience. Yolanda discovered that ‘the early previews of Augustine’s Oak gave me an understanding of the play as a whole, as well as allowing me the time to play about with Bertha, my character’.

Just before opening Augustine’s Oak, Yolanda said that she ‘really wanted an audience!’ to push her performance to the next level. As Augustine’s Oak is a new play, the playwright, Peter Oswald, was able to develop his play with the actors during the rehearsal process. According to Yolanda ‘the play changed considerably during the previews, pieces were shortened or cut, and scenes were swapped about, etc.’.

For the rest of the season, Yolanda’s main goal is to maintain her ‘energy and concentration’ now that the company is no longer rehearsing during the day. Yolanda adds that ‘this period in the season is always exciting as there are the possibilities of other projects to consider, but it is also sad because we’re coming to the end of a long period of collaboration’.

 

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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