Shakespeare's Globe

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"I'm enjoying interacting with the audience...casting them as citizens". Roger talks about first previews of Richard III and finally playing to an audience.

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Time: 5 minutes 1 second

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

How was the opening night – so, the first night preview?

Roger Lloyd Pack:

Well, that was like going into a whirlwind, like going into the unknown. Although I wasn’t as scared as I thought I might have been. I’ve done a few scary things in my time but it was an unknown. It was extraordinary to go out into that and that energy and concentration and see faces looking at you - to be able to see the audience. I’m rather lucky with my part because I have quite a nice scene where I interact with the audience and I involve them, and I like doing that. I like talking to the audience so I’m happy to do that. You know, it was a bit of a blast to start with, it’s just an unknown thing.

Hayley:

Yes, because you don’t know what it’s like until you are confronted by this very large audience…

Roger:

There was no knowing how I’d use the stage, how I’d be affected by different moves people did, or how free I would feel to do a different move and try something out, or whether I would be distracted by people’s expressions is what I was worried about. I’m short sighted so I’ve always been rather grateful that I can’t see people’s expressions close up when they are sitting, but you can here because its daylight and I’m looking at them and I see all these faces. Actually they are all keenly standing and looking and occasionally you see a yawn, somebody is yawning, but generally it’s a really good energy. So I was very mollified by all of that.

Hayley:

What about the audience then? Have they reacted in the ways you expected?

Roger:

Part of me feels a bit sorry for the people sitting down. Although they are sitting down, in a way they feel out of it because you can’t help play to the groundlings because there they are, they’re immediate, and I get them on board as citizens, they become part of the show for me. And when I am speaking it’s nice to pick people out and talk to them like I am talking to you. And they rather love it and its rather nice making direct contact with them and making them the citizens in London in 1500. And then I feel “Oh, I’m neglecting the people who are sitting down, who’ve paid good money, and they’re in a different show or something”. But I think its ok, it can’t be helped. I don’t know how I expected them to react. I’ve been very pleased about the way they have reacted, they’ve been very obedient in a way. When you want them to shout, they shout, and they listen very attentively, fantastic concentration. And laughing, very free to laugh, very supportive, wanting to have a good time…

Hayley:

Because you don’t know when the laughs will come during rehearsal, I suppose, sometimes…

Roger:

No, always surprise you wherever you are. I was surprised – I know it is funny, particularly the part of Richard III, I was surprised at how much humour Mark [Rylance] has extracted from it. It’s a real sign of how easily people are swayed because the way Mark plays it is very charming for a villain so you forget he’s actually this ghastly, terrible man, this murdering man.

Hayley:

Yes because you mentioned that in rehearsal, how he is a bad man, but all these characters and even the audience can be so easily won over by him.

Roger:

Yes, well I think that’s Shakespeare. He’s written this very engaging part.

Hayley:

And so you mentioned a little bit about seeing the audience. What about the other distractions, such as helicopters, pigeons…

Roger:

Pigeons yes, I’ve noticed the pigeons when I’ve been a member of the audience. I haven’t noticed them actually being on stage. And the helicopters and planes haven’t been bad. We had one yesterday and I just raised my – you just, sort of, speak a bit louder and shout over the helicopter and for that moment “Oh yes, I’m not in a Shakespeare play, we are in the 21 century with planes going overhead.” But then it goes and you’re back in the play again. I thought it would be more of a problem than it has been, a, in the amount of distractions and, b, in how much they would distract.

Hayley:

So I suppose in terms of the audience, they can actually be favourable to the play in that they can get involved and things like that. But, of course, helicopters they wouldn’t have had in Shakespeare’s time so we can’t always keep to the original practices.

Roger:

No, exactly, you can’t. And the rain is a big issue because of this summer particularly. On our first night there was a huge downpour in the scene where I have to get the citizens on board, but not a light drizzly rain, a real downpour. Most people stayed, some scurried for cover, but some people even without macks stayed.  I was really touched, I thought, “Gosh, I mustn’t feel sorry for them, I must concentrate, otherwise I’ll forget my line.” But I couldn’t help feeling for them just standing there in the rain watching us absolutely soaked.

Hayley:

And so I have just one last question: so far what is your favourite moment for your character? What are you particularly enjoying on the stage?

Roger:

I’m enjoying interacting with the audience, getting them to cheer Richard, playing devil’s advocate, getting them behind me and persuading them and playing this game that Richard is a holy man and getting the audience to – casting them as citizens. I like believing them as citizens of London, that they are part of the plot to get Richard on the throne, I think that’s probably the favourite bit.

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