Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

In her third blog post Yolanda discusses performing the play without blocking, developing Beatrice and Benedick's relationship and her thoughts on her costume.

Transcript of Podcast

Rehearsals

We’ve done an immense amount of music, dancing, and rehearsing over the past week. The singing that we’ve been doing is Balkan-style calling songs, which involves a lot of discordance rather than harmonies. It's very similar to what we did last year with Richard III, so they’re quite earthy sounds. The dancing is very flamenco-based – obviously it is Elizabethan dancing, but there are Flamenco influences thrown in as well which makes for a really interesting mixture. They fit really well together. In rehearsals we’ve continued to play games to help us get to the bottom of what's going on in the scenes, and in the last rehearsal we played a game where we point to the person who we are trying to affect. That means that you may be talking to a person but that person's not necessarily the person that you are trying to reach; the person that you’re trying to reach might be behind you. That's what we do in life; we might have a little quip at someone, but we say it to another person whilst meaning to affect somebody else. It's indirect. We also played a similar game with balls where you throw a ball to the person you are trying to affect, whether you are speaking or not. So generally we’ve carried on playing about – we aren’t blocking. The whole thing has remained very free and we’re now, this week, beginning to go back to the beginning of the play and look in really minute detail at what's going on in all the scenes.

Blocking

There won’t be any blocking for the production, and I quite like that because I think that one naturally blocks oneself anyway once you start to get the feel of the scene. You might do things slightly different, but it's never hugely different. There's a scene with a masked ball [II.1] and within that there's a dance as part of that which is choreographed. Interestingly enough, we sent the couples off by themselves and told them to find a slow-motion movement or dance, and then we put our dialogue over it, so when other people are talking in the dance we have a sequence of slow movements that keep the action going. We’re dancing together or gesturing and talking at the same time. We’re listening and pretending to be talking whilst the audience listens to the couples who really are talking out loud downstage. Each couple takes their turn talking out loud as the focus of the audience's attention: one couple, then the next, then the next. You can see that there are lots of things taking place, but only one couple speaking at a time. So Josie [Lawrence, Benedick] and I came up with some movements, and later on we were helped by Tamara [Harvey, Master of Play] and Sian [Williams, Master of Dance] to make it fit exactly into our dialogue. We all did that and that was great fun seeing how it would work. I really enjoyed working on a choreographed piece. It brought out a lot of interesting things in the dialogue. The highly choreographed dance and the flexible choreography throughout the rest of the play work well together.

Two routes

My biggest challenge at the moment is the scene between the four women just before the wedding [III.4]. It's the scene where Beatrice comes in and says she's ill. She's obviously not ill; she's love-sick. It could go two ways, both quite funny. There's love-sickness or she could be hiding something else too, and I haven’t quite found out what. Both ways she's hiding something: she's hiding her love-sickness or she's hiding something else. Both ways I’m trying to find out how to play it, and I’m finding that very, very hard at the moment. I understand it in my head but I haven’t quite understood how to play it yet. It’ll come, I suppose.

Working with Benedick

We’ve had rehearsals with just both of us on our own, and that's been really nice. Josie [Lawrence, Benedick] and I work together very well, I think. We’ve done lots of games to get us into the text, but we haven’t done any improvisations or anything like that. We’ve talked about their relationship, and we’ve talked about what may have happened in the past. I’ve had lots of solo sessions, also, where I’ve talked about what I think Beatrice has gone through and what I think Benedick has gone through in the past. It's useful just to talk through what I think our situation has been and get that clear in my head.

Clothing

My costume is divine, it's gorgeous. I’m going to have an under-dress and an overdress. The under-dress is stripy and the overdress is plain, and it's all made of silk. It's a greeny-blue colour, and it's just divine. I haven’t seen the finished dress – I’ve just seen the colour and the toile, which is what they make first of all. It's what the cutter first cuts out of calico; they put that on you and pin it around you, and if it's exactly right and it's perfect, then she’ll cut the real material. So I’ve only seen the material and worn the toile, but I’m very excited about it. Generally though, I would say ‘petrified’ sums up my current feelings. Yes, petrified is a very good word.

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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