Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

This is Amanda's third blog entry for the 2003 production of Richard III in which she discusses jigs in the production and making decisions about her character.

Transcript of Podcast

Jigs

There will be two jigs in the production. One will take place at the beginning of the play, before Richard's first speech, and the second at the end. I think the first jig will be a very effective way to start the play as it is very joyous; it will suggest an atmosphere of happiness; after all, the wars are over, Edward is on the throne, and everything is generally good. Then Richard comes on and, by his first speech, shows us that it isn’t so. I think this instant reversal of mood will be very unsettling; the perfect way to start this play. In contrast, the second jig is lighter, as if to say ‘it's just a play’, and will hopefully send the audience out on a high. Many of us are not natural dancers, and we’ve been finding learning all the complicated dance steps a real challenge! When we started jig rehearsals in the first week of rehearsals, Linda Bassett [Queen Margaret] and I gave each step a name, so one particular sequence would be called a ‘step-hop-funny hop’ (the last step is when you hop on the spot, but as you do, you put your left leg in front of and across your right leg. I think.). Now we’re getting closer to the performances no-one is giggling any more, but the names have stuck, so in each dance rehearsal you hear people muttering them quite seriously as they try to remember the steps.

Decisions

I’ve made a major decision about Buckingham this week. It suddenly occurred to me that it would be very easy to play him as being as evil and devious as Richard himself, but he's not. I’m starting to see him now as a good man who has deviated from the path he started on. At the beginning of the play, he's on the political sidelines but, I suspect, fancies himself as a smooth-talking politician. He soon finds himself as Richard's lawyer, advocate and PA all in one, with all the attention and power he ever wanted. However, I don’t think power was his primary motivation. He wants to avoid another Wars of the Roses, and thinks that, with a child on the throne, another war is inevitable. His objective is to get a grown man on the throne and therefore provide greater security for the country. However, he gets seduced into taking action for personal gain. Despite his hatred of the Woodvilles, I don’t think he wants Hastings dead, however, he realises that Hastings must die if Richard, and therefore the country’s, security is to be assured. But, when he agrees to Hastings’ death, Richard promises him the Earldom of Hereford and other ‘moveables’ and Buckingham accepts; he sells his soul. His primary mistake, like Lady Anne, is to trust Richard.

I’ve mentioned before that Richard and Buckingham have a close relationship, and when this breaks down, I believe that Buckingham is heartbroken, as per Margaret's curse. He realises that he's made the wrong choice and has to side with Richmond, but gets caught. The last time we see him is in Act 5 scene 1, with what I call the execution speech. This is partly self-chastisement, I think; he knows how stupid he's been and he's ashamed. He cannot talk directly to God, hence calling Him ‘That high All-seer’, but he realises he is getting what he deserves. My discovery about Buckingham is that he's a tragic character. He is a good man gone wrong and comes to realise his fault in v.1. I will be spending the next few weeks working this realisation into other scenes in the play, seeing how this discovery can affect how I’m working on the rest of the production. The execution speech is a great contrast to the citizens’ scene (iii.7); in the earlier scene, I will actively try and use the audience, but in v.1, I intend to play the scene very reflectively. When we were rehearsing it the other day, Barry [Kyle, Master of Play] asked me to try saying it as I looked out the window at the world going by; the sense of stillness and self mockery in that speech suddenly leapt out of the speech. There is a sense of stillness in that scene which will hopefully translate well onto the Globe stage, even in the midst of so many people. The very first line of that scene, “Will not King Richard let me speak with him?” could hint at some kind of relationship between Buckingham and Richard, and when Buckingham is told ‘no’, I think it's a devastating moment. Before, I thought of Buckingham as devious, a man who realises what Richard is doing and goes along with it. Now, my major discovery is that he's a tragic character; he starts with one intention, but gets sidetracked. It's more interesting to play the character in this way; the character's journey is more convincing; Buckingham starts as a man who deeply wants to make Richard king, but get sucked in and begins to enjoy himself. Therefore, in that final scene, he realises what an idiot he's been and therefore is resigned to his fate. Now I’ve made this decision about ‘tragic’ Buckingham, I need to go back to the rest of the play, not just the last scene, and see how it affects the work we’ve done so far.

**Please note, no audio file is available for this update**

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