Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 5

This is Yolanda's final blog post. This week she discusses the technical rehearsals, the experience of bringing the play from the rehearsal room to the stage and the energy that having an audience will give the play.

Transcript of Podcast

Running the play

Over the last week and a bit, we’ve been finishing off rehearsing the play. Yesterday we started technical rehearsals. We’re doing well; the play has been running very quickly, which is good. We spent our last week in the rehearsal room running the play. What we did first of all was to ‘stagger’ it through, which just means going through it very slowly, first the first half of the play, then the second. After that, we worked on the bits that were still not quite right, that needed more work to be done on them, and then we ran the play at normal speed. So we did three runs in the rehearsal room before we started the tech. run. They went very well, apart from the last one. The last one, for me, was dreadful. I don’t know why, but it just wasn’t very good: I suddenly didn’t know what was going on, which is quite confusing if you’re in the play. All my lines went, which was very strange. It was a new experience for me, which is why I mention it. Just a very, very strange experience. But it's okay.

Technical rehearsals

Next we started teching. Yesterday we did the first scene in the theatre, and it was great to be in there. It suddenly made sense. What happened was almost as if, by our third run, I’d lost confidence in the play and myself, and then when I got into the theatre, I found that actually this makes sense! It makes sense in this space, so maybe the blip was a good thing to have happened. We’re going very slowly through the play now, and we’re looking at all the music cues, all the dancing cues, and any extra things that we haven’t done with the musicians before. We’re using all the props and the costumes and all the stuff that we’ve never used before, getting used to all of that. We’re also timing our entrances and our exits, and learning exactly which door we’re going to use to come in and which way we’re going out.

The rehearsal room is very well equipped to look like the stage, with wooden pillars and so on, so we do get used to working in the round. I can’t speak for other members of the cast, but I see them opening out on stage, and I love the transition from one space to the other. The play just makes complete sense here, and I start to really get involved. I feel more involved in the little bit that I’ve done, even during the tech, on this stage than I have in the rehearsal room where we’ve been working it through. I don’t know why that is, maybe because it's out there for the audience, and you can see that more clearly in the Globe than in the rehearsal room.

Organic approach

The process of getting the play up and on its feet seemed to have happened very quickly. We were looking minutely at certain bits of the play, and working out what we were going to do at those points. Now that we’re out of the rehearsal room, I’ve realised that the way that we’ve been working with Tamara [Harvey, Master of Play] is that she's been playing lots of games with us and getting us to really know the play. Rather than blocking it and telling us where to stand and how to speak our lines, she's been doing it organically. We played lots and lots and lots, and tried to get the language organically.

At one point it felt like we were never in the same place or doing the same thing in any one run of a scene, because we had been doing so many different things in the games. Now, that's very, very good in one respect. In another respect it's a bit confusing because you’re unsure about which bits work and which bits don’t. You’ve done them in so many different ways and you haven’t actually pinpointed and said, ‘Ooh, that worked quite well, let's go for that. Let's do that a few times and see what happens and then play within that.’ That pinpointing is exactly what we did right in the last couple of weeks of rehearsal. We did a run of the play very slowly through, and once we had got that how we wanted it and out of the way, we concentrated on looking through the scenes again. We really pinpointed the things that were working for us and that gives you a kind of anchor on them. Now we’re starting to get an anchor for the play as a whole; we can play with new ideas, but we know that we have something solid and we play around within that. I think that's what we’ve been doing in the last week; we’ve been playing it all the way through and anchoring it. And we’re still anchoring it. Last night we had a rehearsal, just Beatrice and Benedick. The scenes worked very well, but we just wanted to try and get more detail into them, to get at those little bits and pieces. Now we’ve gone so far that we can actually look for detail and refine bits and pieces. It's constantly evolving. That's the way we’ll work through the play, and it will carry on changing until the last performance in September! At least, hopefully it will.

Audience

I watched Romeo and Juliet during their tech, and I know they were teching, but it seemed to me as if there was a certain low-in-energy feeling to it, because they were working slowly through it. Then I saw a run of it – not all of it, but just bits of a run. It looked great. I thought it looked fantastic in the space, et cetera, but I still thought it lacked an energy. That's not a comment on the actors – they’re all doing their job brilliantly – that's just what happens within the space when it's empty. Then I saw the play during a performance (on the screen upstairs in the Green Room) and the theatre was absolutely full of people hanging from the balconies. It was as if the energy from that stage and those actors was pulling at the people. It was just extraordinary, and it made me think that the first star at the Globe is the Globe itself, the architecture. The second leading star is the audience. Those two things buoy up the stage and the actors, giving them an injection of adrenaline that just shoots a play's energy up three or four levels. It needs to give you that boost, because if you don’t have that energy, I don’t think you would survive on the stage. It's subconscious, though – it's not something you do consciously, it's just something that happens. By that, I don’t mean that the actors might be nervous... I can’t describe it, but I know I’ve seen it, and I know that it will happen to Much Ado, too.

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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