Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

This is Amanda's fourth blog entry for the 2003 production of Richard III in which she talks about rehearsals and performances, changes being made as the production progresses, and the relationship between Buckingham and Richard.

Transcript of Podcast

Rehearsals and Performances

We’re starting to run individual acts at the moment. We ran Act 1 yesterday, and we’re about to run Act 2 this afternoon. It's very encouraging – everything is falling into place and fitting together.

Doing a run before an ‘audience’, the whole company, was fantastic, especially for III.vii, the scene where Buckingham ‘appeals’ to Richard to take the crown in front of the Mayor and citizens. It's a fantastically funny scene, with Buckingham and Richard overacting terribly, and Kathryn [Hunter, Richard] standing in-between two ‘monks’ dressed as a monk herself. It's been getting sillier and sillier throughout rehearsals, so we felt we had to go a little bit further and just do the scene once as outright farce. Buckingham suggests in this scene that King Edward was in fact illegitimate, not born to his father's wife. He describes how Edward’s, (and Richard’s) father;

…first was he contract to Lady Lucy –
[Richard’s] mother lives a witness to his vow –
And afterward by substitute betrothed
To Bona, sister to the King of France.
(III.vii.178-181)

When we did the scene this time, I really stressed the word “Bona” and delivered that line straight to the audience. No-one in that room had ever heard me stress the line in that way, and everyone burst out laughing at the innuendo. We won’t do that again; it's too much, but it was good just to try it once how we all knew it shouldn’t be done and get it out of our systems.

We are going to be using the audience as the citizens in III.vii, and I will be directly addressing them as such. We want to involve the audience as much as possible, as, of course, does Buckingham, but there's a very fine line between encouraging them and losing control of the situation. If I encourage them to go too far, I won’t be able to regain their attention and persuade them to listen.

Buckingham and Richard III

There is the question of whether Buckingham and Richard are in fact comedic characters, or whether what happens is made funnier by the fact that we are two women playing two men. I was discussing this with Barry [Kyle, Master of Play], who suggested that some of the humour is there in the play, seeing two men playing the political game so coldly and viciously; that in itself is funny to watch. On top of this, you have the fact that Kathryn and I are two women, which adds another layer to the scene, I think.

My main concern at the moment is that there seems to be something missing between Buckingham and Richard, a sort of missing ‘x-factor’, if you like. We have already discovered their camaraderie, their shared sense of fun at what they are doing, but there is something else that is missing. This is especially the case at the ends of certain scenes. There are three or four scenes when Buckingham and Richard are left alone on stage at the end, and we’ve decided that there has to be something more to show in those moments. We’ve already explored the extent to which Richard needs Buckingham, but we’re just starting to explore how much Buckingham needs Richard. Buckingham has been put into the position he is in solely by Richard's patronage; perhaps I need to show more eagerness to please Richard. In the end, I’m not worried – it will quickly emerge in performance, but it's something I’m pondering at the moment.

Changes

The other aspect of the production that has changed recently is the Battle of Bosworth. We’ve been working on an extended sequence involving movement, tableaux and pieces exploring different elements of war. I’ve been having great fun appearing as one of the bloody ghosts at the end of the battle (not the ghost of Buckingham, just another ghost), but the question is whether the whole sequence is just too long. I think we’ll have to cut it before we open the production. I hope the ghosts stay.

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

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