This is Tonia's fourth blog post. This week she discusses the play's transition from rehearsal to performance, how Cordelia has developed and how she interacts with the audience while on stage.
Transcript of Podcast
From rehearsal to performance
Going from rehearsals to performances has been a bit confusing. It was when I got on stage that I realised that the language Cordelia speaks is like long eulogies about her father and herself (particularly in the second half of the play). Cordelia does not really have any soliloquies, and because of this I am still exploring her relationship with the audience. Taking into consideration of the nature of the Globe space, I thought of the audience as public witnesses to what is going on in the play.
At first, I was too concentrated on the emotions and hurt surrounding Cordelia's fracture from the family and the change in her father. My work was taking on too much emotional commitment and intensity, and I thought that that had to go. Some of my ideas about Cordelia have changed. Before I saw her as a character who is effected by people around her, but now I see her as someone who is able to rise above her problems. I now see the love and compassion in her character, rather than the hurt, anger and fracture.
When I come back and see my father sitting in his chair, I give a eulogy about him in the speech which starts "O my dear father" (Act IV Scene VII). There are two ways in which I can play that scene. Firstly, I could play on the hurt that I might be feeling, and the effect that the site of my father has had on me. Alternatively, I might present it as a report like a journalist, in the way that there is something going on behind me and I address it to the audience say that ‘this is what has happened’.
I first saw Cordelia as a character trapped in the ‘emotional’ world, I now see her as part of the ‘thought’ world. This means that she is able to see able to see things clearly and put things into order with an element of clarity. It struck me when I was going through my lines how much she uses the word ‘know’ (as well as the world ‘love’). Maybe the difference between Cordelia and her sisters is that they become products of the negative world around them.
Cordelia's language is very private and intimate, particularly when she talks to Lear, due to her compassion, love and wonder about how things have become so bad. In the Globe space you have to make this private speech a public thing for the audience. How can I make Cordelia's lines something that everyone can consider together?
Performing at the Globe
I have done two shows at the Globe before. However, it was very peculiar on the night of the first performance because it felt as though I had never been on the stage before. I went out thinking ‘I know I like working in that space’, but when I went on I was ‘thrown’. I realised that depending on the material you have, your relationship with the stage and audience can be completely different. You can have scenes that involve relationships directly with people, and these may have a lot of action. Or, you can have scenes where you perform soliloquies. My speeches are not soliloquies, but they do have the qualities of a soliloquy because they are sharing something private with the audience.
When I am on stage I do look at the audience and pick out specific people. In the beginning I would look at the audience in a general way but, last night I found myself wanting to speak directly to the audience and question them. However, you cannot do this too much as you lose the intimate space of your character. As you can see the audience around you they seem to naturally invite you to include them in what is going on. In many theatres you seem to act to a ‘fourth wall’ because it is dark, you pretend that the audience is not really there. The only people you speak to are the people on stage with you. It would be a lost opportunity at the Globe to pretend that the audience is not there. In the Globe the audience are the people who are sharing the space with you rather than the people who are pretending that they are not there. Here, you can use the audience as much as the people you are in the scene with.
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.