Shakespeare's Globe

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Matthew talks about the excitment of opening night, how he loves dancing in the final jig, and why Don John is a character the audience loves to hate.

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Time: 9 minutes, 29 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

So now we’re into performance. How did you find the opening night, the first preview?

Matthew Pidgeon:

The first preview was terrifying but also incredibly exciting because I didn’t know - I have never played at the Globe and it’s an extraordinary experience; the relationship you have to the audience and how sort of interactive it is I hadn’t expected. So I was kind of – I was blown away by it really actually, sort of startled by it but I loved it, I really enjoyed it. And then I felt the real work began, not the “real” work, but small work began in understanding the space and understanding how you play it in that space with that audience.

HB:

I noticed you kind of were still rehearsing a little bit throughout those performances.

MP:

Absolutely. It was a tough week actually because the Globe is so about the audience as well as the - I mean every theatre is but the audience are almost in the play with you, it feels like that. Things have to change once you get there with an audience, you haven’t had them before so we were tinkering and changing. So we were rehearsing quite a bit during the day so it was a tough week leading right up to press night. And press night felt great actually because we’d done all that work and we had those previews, press night felt really good, really strong.

HB:

I saw it the night before and it was great, really sunny, beautiful. Next day...

MP:

It did, we had torrential rain for the matinee before press night...

HB:

...thunder...

MP:

...thunder and rain and it was really tough but again a new experience and really helpful. It was just overcast for press night, it stopped raining, it cleared up and it was great. We felt kind of blessed by that as opposed to having such a great night which is maybe a bit damp and you think “Oh God, it’s ruined our show.” We didn’t, we just thought “Thank God, it’s cleared up.” So actually it was fine, you know.

HB:

Do you find it quite tense for press night or is it just another show?

MP:

Yeah, no, well everyone says it’s just another show, it’s not. We all get really worked up about it but the audience was really nice and I thought it was a good strong show. I think because of the nature of playing this space I think the show grows, so I think it’s better now a week on, that’s my personal feeling because it grows with the audience.

HB:

Yeah, I think you’re definitely right, I would love to come and see it in maybe a month or two time to see it’s so different to when I saw it earlier on. And how about the audience then? You said that they had been great, really responsive...

MP:

...really responsive, fantastic...

HB:

...in the ways you expected?

MP:

Not entirely but not unpleasantly so, you know, it’s all been good and today again, terrific. I mean some of those responses you can’t pretend you know when they’re really shouting out or whatever, when they’re doing the booing or hissing, you know, that’s great and that’s what we want.

HB:

Yeah, for your character you have a mix really, it’s humour and villainy.

MP:

I think he’s quite funny, I mean he is quite funny. But yeah, he’s very damaged. Is he a psychopath? I don’t know, he’s probably not far off it you know.

HB:

He’s just not very nice really.

MP:

Yeah, he is a deeply damaged, troubled, appalling person, but I like him, I have to like him.

HB:

Oh, I like him. I think the audience like him as well.

MP:

Yeah, they do and they’re complicit aren’t they, the audience? That’s the thing. Once they start reacting to you and laughing with you then they’re almost complicit in the bad things that you do, which is a really exciting thing. One of the actors John Stahl in the show was talking about it today, how that changes your understanding of some of these plays because when you’re right in there with the Globe audience, and they’re laughing and they’re responding the way they are, then they are almost complicit with what you do in the play, so it changes their view of the play as well. It’s really exciting.

HB:

So has anything changed with the overall production since rehearsal or even tech week? So during performance?

MP:

With me, there’s been a bit of blocking changes once you get to know the space and a few sort of changes like that. I feel it’s more relaxed, maybe I’m finding moments where I can play with the audience a little bit more. Because again when I am on it’s in short sharp bursts and there’s a lot of plot and it’s a man who’s railing against the world and it’s sort of very direct and, you know, there’s not a lot of air to hang about or riff with the audience and joke and stuff. So you need to find out where those moments are, where you can maybe have a little bit of fun with the audience because I think that it’s important. But he’s quite direct Don Jon. He does what he says he’s going to do and he does it quite quickly.

HB:

Is there any favourite moments within the play? Particular moments that you enjoy doing?

MP:

Well, a favourite bit that I do, or I’m involved in – I really like that scene at the end of the first half with Don Pedro and Claudio; I think that’s a really interesting scene, when he tells them about Hero being disloyal and all that stuff. I just think that’s great because it’s got everything, it’s funny, and it’s sinister, and it’s dark, and there’s a bit of riffing with the audience, and it’s great; it’s really active, it’s exciting. He’s imparting some really seriously bad news to them and watching that explode, go off, and that’s an exciting thing to do as an actor. That’s a very important pivotal plot scene and big things go off in the scene, so it’s exciting to be in that. There are so many parts, I mean I love – we watch on the monitors a lot and I love watching Emily [Eve Best] and Charlie [Edwards], I think they’re just fantastic in this, as everyone is actually. So there’s lots of bits. I love it when she talks about a star dancing when she was born, stuff like that, I find that very moving and I think Charlie riffing with the audience about...

HB:

...That’s a fun part.

MP:

Yeah, right at the gulling scene and all that, it’s just incredible as well. So there’s lots of this stuff and I love the bit when Don Pedro and Claudio sort of join forces against Benedick after Hero has been discredited and that very strange moment where Ewan as Don Pedro goes off on a riff about what Beatrice has said about Benedick, and then the sort of strange music comes in, then they get together, Pedro and Claudio, and they hold hands when they’re talking to Benedick. I just think that’s great, really sinister and mad and sort of sums up that strange and male - all the nastiness of that male world is encapsulating in that little bit there I think.

HB:

Yeah, and that’s a little bit what it’s about, isn’t it? You can get taken away with the comedy and the romance but that’s...

MP:

...There’s a dark side in this play and it all comes from that sort of male domination, I think.

HB:

Yeah, definitely. And I also like the jig? You’ve been away for a while and then what an entrance to come back.

MP:

Yeah, I get a good jig, don’t I? We’ve been doing a sort of Ireland fling bit as well, me and Ewan. Yeah I enjoy it, the jig is brilliant isn’t it?

HB:

But I just like how it tells a further story, a really good conclusion, because the jig is a conclusion but even more so.

MP:

Yeah, that was always the idea that Jeremy had, I think, and Sian thought that we should kind of tell the plotted story really and resolve it in the jig.

HB:

Yeah and how do you find playing your other character, the Sexton?

MP:

Actually quite good fun. I’m just a feed to Paul and Adrian in that scene and...

HB:

...It’s fun to be involved in that scene.

MP:

Yeah, it’s great. I mean I’m there to get a bit cross with them and say “Hurry up! Hurry up!” And sort of be this kind of officious figure. But yeah it’s good fun to be in that.

HB:

Yeah, just a bit of variation because you’re done then, you’re done with Don John by now...

MP:

...Yeah, I come on as a mourner, a mute mourner with a flaming torch, but that’s it after that.

HB:

So how are you just finding the whole performance process?

MP:

I love it, I love it. I love working here. I think we are all a bit - I mean you can probably hear I’m a bit croaky because I’ve just come off stage. But the last two weeks, building up to the show, doing it, teching, previewing and press night, right until now we haven’t had much of a break, it’s been quite intense. This week it’s eight shows, next week it’s eight shows, so it’s been quite an intense period which is great, but I think by the end of that we have a week off from the show and I think we’ll all be quite tired.

HB:

Yeah, I guess it’s how it works here. Every show has its time and its fill; it’s all about Much Ado right now and then as soon as Faustus begins then...

MP:

...And you do it and it’s really intense and it’s a beautiful space. I mean it’s a unique experience but it’s not easy playing in there, it requires a lot of energy. I mean it really does take it out of you and if you haven’t played here before which I haven’t it comes as a bit of a surprise at first, but it’s lovely, great theatre, really exciting.

HB:

And you’ve still got so many more shows to go. You are doing it until October?

MP:

Yeah, I’m doing the Mystery Plays as well, The Globe Mysteries, so we’ve got a lot to come.

HB:

You haven’t started anything on that?

MP:

Haven’t started, we start rehearsing in three weeks I think. I haven’t even read it yet. I’ve read Tony Harrison’s original versions but I’ve not read the new cut or really had the chance to look at it.

HB:

It’s so hard when you’re focusing...

MP:

...Yeah, I mean I think that will come in next week, when we’ve got the week off from the show that’s when I’ll have a look and maybe the chance to get some of it down a bit, you know.

HB:

Yeah, do you run the two at the same time or will Much Ado have ended?

MP:

We do. No, Much Ado and Mysteries both, we finish on the same day; we’ve got a matinee of one and the evening performance of the other on the first of October.

HB:

Wow, and are quite a few of the cast doing the two?

MP:

All of us apart from Eve Best, Charlie Edwards, Joe Marcell and Ewan Stewart; those four aren’t doing the Mysteries but all the rest of us are and we’re getting two or three new actors.

HB:

That’s so nice, as a company you’ll know each other now and it should be really nice rehearsing.

MP:

It’s a really nice company as well. So the three new actors will be embraced well and then it’s a really chilled out company actually which is good.

HB:

Yeah, and so I look forward to seeing that one next then.

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