Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In her second blog post Yolanda discusses the music used in the play, her ideas about Beatrice's background and the development of the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick

Transcript of Podcast

Last week

We got Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off – three days seems like a lot! Then I had a morning, an evening, and an afternoon off because other people were in working on their scenes, so it really feels like I haven’t been here for a long, long time. I started back on it properly today. In the meantime what we have been doing is lots of dancing – now we know what we’re doing with the jig. We know the music - and the singing too. We’re going to do a Calling song which involves us all calling out together; it's very exciting, very moving. The jigging has really wonderful music that Balcony Bill [William Lyons, Master of Historical Music] has arranged. It comes from original pieces of music that he's rearranged and brought together to make our jig music. It's mostly Italian in origin but I find that there's also a lot of Spanish flamenco influence there too – apparently Messina was under Spanish control for most of the Sixteenth Century, so the mixture realy reflects the setting of the play. That's what we’ve been up to recently. We’re getting up on our feet now with the play, looking at different ways of getting into it. We’re still playing games, but trying to get deeper into the rise and fall. So that's where we’re at right now.

Beatrice's background

I’ve been thinking about character on my own, obviously, but not too much within the rehearsal room – yet. What we tend to do is sit down first and we read the scenes and then have a little discussion about what we understand and don’t understand, what exactly is it we’re trying to say, why we think this person is saying or doing that, or what we think has happened beforehand. So, for instance, one of the questions that came up today was why did I live with Leonato in his household – where were my parents? I came up with the idea that my mother died in childbirth and that I lived with my father for a while, but after a certain age I was sent to Leonato's house (he's my uncle), because in those times it was usual for girls to be sent away in order for them to learn their manners and how to be useful in a well-to-do household. It was considered to be an education. I think that my father would have done that for me. Not that my father was less wealthy than Leonato… I don’t mean that it was the lower echelons that went away to another household. If members of the gentry thought that it would be advantageous in one way or another for their children to live as part of another household, then they would send them.

Thoughts outside rehearsal

In terms of preparation outside the rehearsal room, I just do anything that might fire my imagination. For instance, I looked at the script and I’ve looked at everything everyone says about Beatrice in order to find out what people think of her. Then I found everything that Benedick says about her, which is quite interesting because he actually says very different things – on one hand he puts her down all the time, but he also says some quite nice things about her. Then I looked at what all the other characters say about her and what she says about herself. I did that for Benedick too. I did that for everything I say about Benedick, everything everybody else says about Benedick, and what he says about himself; I wanted to see if there was a connection between Beatrice and Benedick in terms of the way people see them and how they see themselves. So I’ve done that, and that gave me an idea of Beatrice's characteristics, her persona – what she gives out to the world. And then I can look at that and say, ‘Well, that's what I think she's like inside, but this is what Beatrice is like on the outside.’ I’ve also been trying to give her a little biography of where she's come from, what she's been through, and what's happened between her and Benedict in the past because it's mentioned quite a lot in the text. They’ve obviously met each other before, and been in love before, or at least there's some sort of history between them. She hints more than once that she's been in love with him and he was unfaithful, or he's been in love with her and she was unfaithful. So I’m trying to figure out what I think might have happened.

I’ve also been making a collage, which is something new for me. I’ve never done that before and I suddenly thought – that’d be nice, because I needed a bit of imaginative help. So I did a small one at the beginning of the book that I keep all my ideas and notes in, and I’ll do another one later. I couldn’t get the images that I particularly wanted but it all started off because I saw this picture of a green and purple forest and I thought, ‘Eoi!’ and then I came across an image of a woman in a dance position. She was very liberated, very free – just sort of going backwards. I thought, ‘Oh, I like these images’ and I put them together – and that started me off on the collage.

Developing a relationship with Benedick

The relationship between Beatrice and Benedick is one thing that we haven't started doing yet, and I think everyone's starting to get quite itchy feet about it now. We have been working on the text, but we’ve been looking at it in many, many different ways. What we haven’t been doing really is rehearsing the characters and looking at the relationship between them – but I think that that's going to happen organically as we work on the other things through the text. We’ve got a long session on Saturday and tomorrow I’ve got a solo session with Tamara [Harvey, Master of Play], so I think there will be a lot of discussion and talk about that. I quite like getting up and going in at the deep end, mucking about with the character and then seeing what works and what doesn’t work. It's something that I don’t feel I’m very good at, that type of improvisation, and so I’m a little bit frightened of it – when we start off, I always think ‘Oh lord, I’m rubbish at this.’ Even if improvisations go badly though, they’re still very, very good and beneficial. Sometimes a lot of very good things can emerge from a session that seems to have gone badly. So hopefully we’ll get to do a bit of that. We’ve got four weeks left, so there's plenty of time.

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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