In his penultimate blog post, Bruce discusses the differences between performing in matinees and evening shows, and the differences between different audiences.
Transcript of Podcast
Everything is going very well. King Lear is a long show and we are working non-stop. However, we are doing one show per day. When I was with the RSC, I was doing two shows everyday. At a ‘regular’ theatre, you usually perform eight performances every week (at the Globe you do six shows maximum per week).
If you are doing two shows everyday they normally last for about two hours, which is not very long. You find that you begin the matinee very excited and enthusiastic, however by the end of it you are exhausted. The evening show is actually good, because you are in the role of your character. You find that you think less and use your instincts more, and this makes the actions and reactions seem more genuine.
I prefer performing evening shows, as I find that the concentration being channelled onto the stage is better. The conditions of the theatre are also better (at the Globe), particularly as it is dark. During the day you are more aware of crashes from the building site, or of helicopters and planes flying overhead. Despite the noises, you still have to hold onto telling the story. This is hard if you are in the middle of a powerful scene, caught in the moment of the play and character…when suddenly the sound of a plane interrupts you! Concentration is very important.
Different types of audiences can effect your performance. Often in matinees you feel that you have to make your character ‘bigger’ by projecting yourself. This is because there are many school children in the audience and you worry that they do not fully know the play. However, they do understand it because they are usually studying it. The other day there were some very small children in the Yard, who were tiptoeing to put their faces up to the stage so that they could see over.
I always wonder if people are sure to what is happening in the play. When I come on stage in the disguise, do they realise that it is still Kent, or do they think it is another character? You can never be 100% confident.
There have been some performances that have stood out from the rest. Changes take place by degree from one performance to the next.
At the moment I am exploring the despair that a character as constant as Kent could feel. Does he ever want to give up, particularly in the storm scene? Does Kent despair when Lear strips off and is sharing in the angst and madness of Poor Tom? I think that Kent and Lear were quite close before the banishment.
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.