Shakespeare's Globe

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This is Joseph's fifth blog post. This week he discusses his pre-performance rituals, the differences between matinee and evening performances and the weather.

Transcript of Podcast

Personal pre-performance rituals

Lots of people do have rituals. Personally, I try to get myself warmed up. I do sit ups and things like that. A couple of people stare at themselves in the mirror and stuff like that. Then I keep my script at my station, because you are subconsciously really, going through your role while you are getting ready, and your conscious mind gets this thing where you can’t remember a line or a word. The conscious rituals for me are simply trying to do some sit ups and get myself together, and get myself into the frame of mind to do the role. There are also the questions of, who am I, why am I here, what do I hope to achieve, how am I going to do it and what do I want to sacrifice? Those kind of things. And you try to answer those questions as the character. Not as yourself. It's like superstitions; everyone has their own, but I approach it as a boxer would. I get really warmed up, and ready for the fight.

What is the most nerve wracking thing?

It's the walk from the dressing room to the tiring room, that's the hardest thing. It's not quite dead man walking, but it definitely is the walk of no return and you have to make sure you know-as far as is humanly possible- all of the things you have to do when you get down there. Because otherwise it means you have to come all the way back, and once you are there, there is no time. Thank God that someone is there with the prompt script, so you can check things. You may have forgotten a ring, or a handkerchief, or your props. But the props are kept down there in the prop store, so you can’t have forgotten them. And while you are there waiting, you are kind of sucking in the atmosphere, the buzz from the audience. I find one of the most exciting things about going to a concert is listening to the orchestra tune itself. That kind of creates an excitement, and hearing the people talking, and then they quieten down, and then all of a sudden there is an understanding between you and them that it is time to begin. It's the most amazing thing. In general there is a nice atmosphere. There's a buzz of excitement in the air; a tinge of excitement, nerves and fright and all that kind of stuff.

First night

When you walk out on stage you see all of these faces and no matter how seasoned you are, it does take you back a bit. But it was superb, it was fun. I didn’t fluff my lines and got through from the beginning to the end so that wasn’t bad. We had a couple of errant pigeons which could have been a bit distracting! Also, at one point I think Robin [who plays Menenius] said ‘Oh me, the Gods!’ and at that moment a helicopter flew by! But luckily there were no major distractions.

Matinees and evenings

They feel different, the evenings and the matinees. In fact, even when the sun shines there is a difference. When the lights are on the Globe is almost like other theatres; there is somewhere to hide. When it is a bright evening and a bright afternoon, the thing you notice most of all is every expression on people's faces. I have entrances through the groundlings and I sort of talk to my soldiers in the yard so I can see the audience up close. It's really nice; you are sort of torn between showing off and acting!

But the most interesting thing is the light as you watch the shadows move throughout the course of the play, the quality of light changes. It becomes more golden as the evening goes on. And I’m not a tree hugger or anything! But this week, Sunday especially, it has been very clear. It really is quite stimulating, but it is evocative too and it can change the performance. It changes not the context, but the feel, the taste of it. It really does affect it. I mean the noise of the rain affects how you listen. We’ve also had some very windy days and the dust rises and it all forces you to adjust. It's fun, it really is. But there will never be two performances the same because the atmosphere and the life are different. It really is gorgeous.

The weather on the press night was spectacular

It really was, but we’ve had some rainy ones too. I think we did a Sunday matinee in the rain, and the poor groundlings were saturated. They were just standing there and you felt so sorry for them. I have to run around the yard and come up the ramp, but what am I worrying about? I believe that sometimes the volume of the water is too much for the drains, so the floor rises! I think it's happened during Titus Andronicus but not with us.

 

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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