Shakespeare's Globe

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“When you finish rehearsals you get to a certain point with the development of the character. And then once the play is up and running it’s about maintaining that. Sometimes I think that if you rehearsed the play for twice as long, would it be a very different thing that you end up with?”
In his final interview Pearce discusses how he has become more secure with his character, comparing distractions in Shakespeare’s day with modern performances, and an idea for a new schedule of rehearsals.

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Time: 5 minutes 57 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

How was opening night?

Pearce Quigley:

That seems like a long time ago now. Very well. It went very well, thank goodness. A lot of nerves but all in the right direction, I think. It was a good night.

PB:

What kind of reactions have you had from the audience? Have they reacted in ways you’ve expected?

PQ:

Well, you don’t know what to expect until you’ve done it a couple of times. Well, until you’ve done it at least once. Then you get some idea. And then, basically, it’s variations on that initial response. There are certain bits where you hope they’re going to laugh but you don’t know if they will and they have. And then there are other places where you weren’t expecting them to laugh. You see certain areas where you think maybe a laugh could be developed and become a better laugh. Or you can be making a rod for your own back sometimes. If you try to get a laugh at something and it’s hard to get it. Then if you don’t get it, it can knock you a bit – knock your confidence a bit. And I’ve got a couple of those moments where – I think I’ve said before – if I don’t do it right, it doesn’t land and it’s a bit disappointing. But it’s all down to me, ultimately. Although, we have had a couple of audiences where you could have been the funniest thing since sliced bread and they still wouldn’t have laughed. We’ve had one audience like that. Just one. But then, each audience is its own character as well.

PB:

Have you found your character has changed or developed as you’ve gone on?

PQ:

Yeah! Of course. I think so. I don’t know. It develops, in that it’s become more secure, I think. Or I’ve become more secure with it. So, in that respect, I suppose it’s developed. I don’t know. That’s an interesting question. I think sometimes when you finish rehearsals, you get to a certain point with the development of the character and then once the play’s up and running it’s about maintaining that. And I sometimes think if you rehearsed a play for twice as long, would it be a different thing than you ended up with? I don’t know. I suppose the rehearsal process has evolved to be what it is and that’s all you need. Or that’s enough, really. Although, there are some places where you can rehearse for weeks if not months and maybe you end up with something very different. I don’t  know.

PB:

I suppose there’s only so much you can do without an audience there to gage what you’re doing.

PQ:

I really don’t know. Well, there is. It would be very self-indulgent to do this but it would be very interesting to rehearse a play for 6 weeks and then open with it (perform it) for 6 weeks and then go back into rehearsals. That would be quite interesting, actually.

PB:

How much of the Globe’s distractions, like seeing the audience and helicopters and birds, are affecting you? And do you enjoy embracing that?

PQ:

Birds – the pigeons – a lot of when you see them, they’re gorgeous. What was the other one, apart from the helicopters?

PB:

Seeing the audience.

PQ:

That’s not a distraction. That’s great seeing the audience. Helicopters are a nightmare. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. The last show that we did, it [a helicopter] was right over while I was speaking and I decided to fight against it in what I thought was a jokey way. But immediately, it was the wrong thing to do. But the audience – I could feel everyone getting slightly tense, having been very relaxed up until that point. It was a joke that didn’t really work and I’m sorry I did it now. But honestly, there’s absolutely nothing that you can do. And that’s certainly something they wouldn’t have had to contend with in the 17th century. That’s for sure. Or anything that’s equivalent, I wouldn’t imagine.  There’s another experiment we could do to get a really rowdy crowd in. Because they say that the groundlings used to be very rowdy. I think just the very fact that you’re standing up, watching it gives you a kind of license to - not be rowdy but - certainly not be totally one hundred percent quiet and concentrated.

PB:

You feel more involved.

PQ:

More involved but also less involved because you can see out the corner of your eye people coming, going, eating, chatting, whatever. But I don’t find that a distraction at all. But maybe, back in the day, that was a massive distraction. Maybe people heckled, I don’t know.

PB:

Yeah, apparently people heckled. They threw pippins – like apple seeds – when they didn’t enjoy it [the play].

PQ:

Did they indeed? Well, I’m glad they don’t do that anymore!

PB:

So, my final question is: what is your favourite moment in the play?

PQ:

I’ve got lots and lots of favourite moments. I look forward to doing this play so much. I really do. It’s such a privilege to be able to go out there and do it. But, again, I think I’ve said it before: I love watching other people’s performances in it. And I love making people laugh, obviously. I love everyone in it but I have a particular soft spot for Tommy [Lawrence] as the wall. And Tommy in general as his character [Snout] I just think he’s sublime, really. Everybody is! But there’s just something about his quietness and his complete stoicism as the wall and as Snout. His stoicism in it is wonderful and he doesn’t show off, he doesn’t overdo it in any way. I look forward to watching him every night.

PB:

Great! Thank you very much.

PQ:

Wonderful.

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