Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In this bulletin, Laura [Pyper, Crssida] writes about exploring scenes in greater depth, her work on text and movement, and Cressida's relationship with Diomedes.

Transcript of Podcast

Exploring scenes

After the first week, where we had been working on the scenes while sitting in a circle, we’ve been doing this brilliant exercise where Matthew [Dunster, director] puts chairs in the middle of the circle and when it’s your scene, you have to go into the circle. It was really important in order to see who is in each scene with you, who you will be looking at and who you have most contact with during those lines. It was really helpful. I found out that most of Cressida’s scenes are quite small; there are never a lot of actors – it’s normally just with Troilus and/or Pandarus, sometimes Diomedes, Alexander at the start.

The exception to this is the kissing scene (Act 4.5), which threw up a really interesting discussion. Richard [Hansell, Alexander] wondered if she might enjoy, to which I said “No, she doesn’t! It’s horrible, it’s a violation!” If you think about the situation she’s in, it’s just horrible; she’s in this camp with these men mauling her, and it’s completely unknown what could happen. But when we got the scene on its feet, we tried it with all the guys sitting down and I stood in the middle, and it was quite powerful and exciting I think that’s really important for Cressida, because she realises the power that a woman has over men. Then I started to find it very intimidating, we’ve all said that it’s terrifying, and you realize how vulnerable she is.

It’s going to be fun exploring it. There are four soldiers who kiss her – Nestor, Agamemnon, Achilles, Patroclus – and each one will be different. It’s interesting watching men competing, trying to prove who can do better and then to watch her power over them unfold as a result. I’m actually really looking forward to acting it because I think it’s exciting and quite dangerous. We’ll see what happens.

Training

I’m loving the training that we have every morning! We’re doing half an hour of cardio and circuit training, and then the same again of yoga and stretches in the rehearsal room. It’s like going to the gym every morning! Most of the men in the cast are playing warriors and are all wearing Classical skirts, so they have to look good. … and some of the guys are getting really competitive, and go to the gym afterwards to get even fitter!

But I think it is really helpful for me too because Cressida is such a strong character and it really helps your posture and your movement. Even after two weeks I can feel a difference, we can all feel a difference in our bodies. I think it really helps you become aware of your body, and it is particularly fantastic as preparation for the space. I imagine working here is quite a physical experience – you have to give your all or else you’ll be lost.

Movement

I had a session with Glynn [McDonald, movement] yesterday. She said acting at the Globe is the closest you’ll get to being a rock star – a bit like playing a stadium gig! There are quite a few people in the company who have been on the stage before (I think about six or seven people), but for me it was a really good clue about how big it is and how amazing it can be.

In the session, I also did some Alexander technique with Glynn. I’ve never done the Alexander technique before so it was brilliant. She worked out how I move and where my faults are, so that I could then find my core and use that to make your movements mean something. She also did some work on my character’s movement, just ways to suggest that Cressida is a girl who knows what she wants. She’s feisty and she’s been brought up by men, so she doesn’t flit around – she’s not airy fairy. She takes the attitude, “I want this and I’m going to get it!”

Text work

I had my first session with Giles [Block, text] this morning and it was brilliant. Cressida is a funny character in that she flits between prose and verse. A lot of what I say is just ordinary speech, not poetry. But when you start to listen to the poetry, it’s beautiful. Giles is great at asking how you think something should be said; he then tells you what he thinks, and if they don’t match, we work together to try to pick which works best.

Today, we studied the section when she first meets with Troilus (Act 3.2). She loses her mind a bit, she is giddy and all over the place. Usually, she is so grounded and so sure of herself, really cocky – that’s her gift, her wit, the way she answers back to her uncle and she stands up for herself. But with Troilus, she’s like a blubbering mess and she seems to jump back and forth from being in control to having no idea what she is doing. Giles was great and told me to just go for it and to try not to stick to any ideas, which was lovely. It allows me to have Cressida just explode in that way that you do when you meet someone you really fancy and you can’t get the words out.

Relationship with Diomedes

I think one of my biggest discoveries this week has been in Cressida’s relationship with Diomedes. As I said last week, I’m on Cressida’s side. I don’t want her to be hated. She does betray Troilus, but I think it’s because she’s young and she’s discovering herself, her sexuality and her attractiveness to men. Also, she’s been betrayed when she’s been handed over – no one fought for her – and so she’s said, “Fine, if that’s the way things are, I’ll act the same way.” She gets to the Greek camp and she is in such a vulnerable position. She’s madly in love with Troilus but then she meets this other guy, Diomedes, and thinks “Oh wow, you’re hot!”

There is this amazing scene where she wants to kiss Dimoedes but can’t. She goes through those awful emotions of feeling “I can’t resist you, but I have to,” and then ends up cheating on him. It’s really exciting to explore that; we’ve had to go through that a couple of times and I think we’re really getting there now.

 

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

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