Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Tech Week

“I'm having to think very hard about it before I do it as to whether or not it’s going to work. So it’s an ongoing constant challenge!”
Pearce discusses working through tech week, how he has worked through the difficulties he was having performing with the donkey’s head, and the challenge of making things just ‘work’.

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Time: 6 minutes 22 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

So what happens in tech week?

Pearce Quigley:

Well you start from the top of the play and you just go through it very slowly. Scene by scene, line by line, moment by moment. It’s like a super slow-mo version of the final show. And anything that isn’t too technical, if it’s just two people speaking, then you can kind of wiz through that. But inevitably you end up going over scenes quite a lot, so it’s good for that, for an actor. As an actor it’s good to be getting to be out in the space and going over and over the same scene a few times.

PB:

Was that the first time you used props for the play within a play?

PQ:

Yeah, yeah it was. It would have been yeah. And the first time we saw the stage, and how the faulty floorboard works, and how Ed [Edward Peel, Egeus/Snug] manages to repair it and for that to break again, all that technical sort of stuff. And the wall, being able to have a hole punched through it, both ends of it. All that sort of stuff.

PB:

Do you find a lot of the movement that you rehearsed changes?

PQ:

Inevitably it changes yeah. You can’t really imagine what it’s going to be like until you’re actually there.  You can’t imagine being three feet off the stage on a kind of wonky slightly moving platform until you’re doing it. So the reality of it is always slightly jarring at first, but then you just get on with it. And hope that you’re safe.

PB:

What have been the challenges of putting this production together?

PQ:

Remembering the lines. Trying to get the timing right. Remembering the lines! And seeing where you fit into the jigsaw really. I don’t have any quick changes or anything in this so I’m fortunate in that respect. I’m not running off to this that and the other so the only thing that I’ve got to contend with really is the donkeys head, which is… You have to fight against it really; it doesn’t aid you in any way. What does, what is helpful is that I’ve seen photographs subsequently of it, what it looks like in situ. I’ve seen photographs of me and Michelle and it just looks amazing, it looks absolutely amazing. It’s not…you just have to trust that people will get any kind of subtlety that you might be trying to get across. It’s hard to be subtle with it on, and I’ve found the more movement the better.

PB:

Last time you said you were struggling, you just felt like you were shouting with it on. How did you work through that?

PQ:

I don’t feel like I’m shouting so much now. I definitely have to – I really have to pitch it up. I feel as if I’m heard in it, I’m pretty certain I can’t afford to let the vocal energy drop. I’m pretty certain about that. So yeah from the minute it goes on the volume is at 11. It’s not on for that long really, in the great scheme of things. It’s on for a very short amount of time actually, it’s on for two scenes and there’s an interval in the middle so I hardly have it on at all really.

PB:

I suppose you have to be quite aware of when people are touching it because you can’t feel it?

PQ:

Yeah. No there have been… Yeah I mean I’d have to say to Stephanie who plays Peaseblossum, I’ve had to ask her at what point is she scratching my head. Because I’m reacting to being scratched, but because I can’t feel it, I thought ‘Oh god am I reacting to something that isn’t happening yet!’ Because I can’t see anything either so I can’t see if she’s near me, I can’t hear anything I can’t see anything I can’t feel anything so I don’t know if she’s near me. And so I said are you actually scratching my head at that point, so we’ve had to kind of work that out a little bit.

PB:

Just all the timings and all that kind of…

PQ:

Yeah just so I know really. And then I think she’s purposefully being a little bit rougher with it so that I know for definite when it’s happening. 

PB:

Are there any scenes that are still proving difficult to unlock?

PQ:

 The whole thing is a challenge still, but there are things in it that I’m doing that I didn’t know if they’d work or not? And they seem to work, but they’re really hard to make work. And a couple of times they haven’t worked, and it’s been completely my fault because I haven’t done it properly, so that kind of fills me with dread slightly. Knowing that hopefully it will become second nature. It might not but hopefully it will do, and I’ll know instinctively what to do to make it work. But am the moment I’m having to think very hard about it before I do it as to whether or not it’s going to work. Yeah so it’s an ongoing constant challenge!

PB:

And how is it seeing the play now all the pieces have come together?

PQ:

I love it. I love it. I love this production I think it’s absolutely exquisite. I love the performances in it. And every time we do it there’s something different in it. I’m kind of totally… I just love Tommy as the wall! I think he’s just…and I can’t laugh at him ‘cause I’m supposed to find him very annoying, but when I stand next to him on stage every night I’m just looking at him thinking that is the funniest face I’ve ever seen.

PB:

Do you find it difficult to hold that laughter back?

PQ:

Not really, when you get in a situation… you get some kind of adrenaline going on. I was telling someone the other day in one of the scenes I cut my hand, on something. I’m a big wuss me and if I’d done that at home, my missus would tell me… I’d be like ‘Ooooh!’ I’d be rolling on the floor in agony. But because of the adrenaline on stage I was standing there looking at it thinking ‘that’s gonna hurt in the morning’. But now I’m just looking at it because I can feel nothing because there’s a thousand pairs of eyes looking at me. And you kind of just don’t think about it. But not just Tommy, everybody. I stand and watch what Fergal is doing. And its great when they don’t know, there’s something thrilling about being on the same stage as somebody and looking at what they’re doing, without them knowing that you’re watching them. I love that. It is quite voyeuristic actually, and in the head, if I get the right angle where I know that none of the audience can see me but I can see what’s going on on stage, that’s quite interesting as well. Michelle is amazing. Everybody is. I just think it’s a really brilliant production. 

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