In his second blog post Bo discusses the first week of rehearsals, his character, Apemantus, and the design of the production.
Transcript of Podcast
First week of rehearsals
The first day is usually a write off because of all the nervous energy, and you don’t actually get that much work done, but we actually started a few days earlier than the ‘first week’. So the first afternoon, we introduced ourselves, read the play, and that was it – that was probably enough! Then in the first week, we did a lot of exercises to do with status and flattering and sycophancy. For instance, Simon would walk into the room, and everybody would be kneeling to him and he had to introduce himself to everyone. But while he would be doing that, whenever he wasn’t engaged with you, you had to completely switch off and show a different side of yourself. If you were watching the exercise, you’d see people walking around in a slightly predatory way, but all he saw were beaming smiles and happiness. Then we moved on to passing a secret word or an object around, and everybody had to get it or touch it, except Timon who could never see what was going on. So it was playing with ideas of appearance and deception, doing it on different levels friendship and love, but we were also exploring how Timon does not get that these people are false. To me, this is one of the most difficult parts of the play to get, particularly in productions where Timon is being played by an old man; I thought that surely anyone who’s been on this planet for fifty or sixty years is going to be able to know when people are being that false, so I think Lucy’s done the right thing by casting it younger. But I was also really encouraged by the fact that when Simon spoke of his experience in these exercises, he said he just had this feeling of being loved and people loving him; you could therefore believe that this man would go through these experiences, not realising that people were out to get him.
Character of Apemantus
Apemantus, the character I play, is very much on the outside of that circle of flattery, so in those exercises, I was playing with different things, trying to disrupt the deception to get him to see what was really going on in that exercise. So when they’d be giving him a hug, I’d go up to them after and give them a really over-the-top hug, or if they were giving him a gift, I’d be making fart noises, trying to disrupt the flattery in the way that Apemantus does in the play. I think it was also useful to see the way that they disarmed me; rather than taking offence, they included me or laughed it off, or changed tack and tried to compete with me. I didn’t do any work with Giles [Block, Text Adviser] or Glynn [MacDonald, Movement] in the first week, although Giles was always there going through the text; there’s a lot of it that’s difficult to get your head around and he was very helpful.
The design of the show
I did have an idea about what the design of the show would be like as I’d met Lucy previously and she’d shown me pictures I thought it looked fantastic. This play does need lifting off the page. There are bits that you read that are just dry, only people talking to each other, but when she explains her vision for it, you’ve got these creatures hanging down from a suspended net. It makes it really exciting and really brings it to life for you. That’s why I think Lucy is the right person for this play because she’s particularly talented at doing that.
Rehearsing in parts
It’s fairly normal to split the company up in rehearsal. There’s always people who are in certain bits and who aren’t in others. It’s a big company – twenty actors. Unless you’re working at the National or the RSC or here at the Globe, you don’t get many plays with that many actors, so when you do have them all in a room at one time, it’s very difficult to keep everyone focused; some people will have more to do than others, so it’s useful to work in small groups. This week we’re going to be doing these big scenes – the banquet scenes – and bringing everyone back together now is good, because everyone’s got something to bring to the table.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as she goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.