Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Production Notes 4

This is Paul's final blog post. This week he discusses taking the play to the Globe in Tokyo, reflects on his character and reveals his funniest moment.

Transcript of Podcast

Tokyo

I was previously in a show at the Globe in Tokyo. That Globe is very modern backstage; they have televisions in every room. However, the spirit of it is much the same as it is here. The Globe here is more fun because you can build up a real rapport with the audience who are more demonstrative. I am really looking forward to going back there (the cast of King Lear will be performing the show in the Globe in Tokyo, Japan for two weeks).

Edgar

I did not have many preconceived ideas about Edgar. When I first started this show I was uncertain as to where to begin with his character and so I wrote to many people asking them what they thought about him. I also found clues in the language. Shakespeare's language can be quite difficult, and I do not think it is necessary to understand every word. Even if you are working on a modern drama, it is difficult to understand everything that is written. I think that the most important thing is to understand the essence of what is being said. It is better to see a show if you are studying it – Shakespeare is meant to be seen, not read!

I did a lot of research for this part, particularly on the Internet. I even went on to a site about schizophrenics. I also looked at madness in Elizabethan times. We are very lucky to working with Jaq Bessell [Head of Globe Research]. If we do not understand something then we ask her to research it for us, whether it is themes or specific words. Although we do not use the research explicitly on stage, it does help to inform and strengthen the character we are playing.

I have been thinking about Edgar's madness, particularly during last night's performance. I think that sometimes when Edgar is mad, he is actually very sane. His madness seems to make sense. However, last night I experimented with acting a bit mad, when I am supposed to be sane.

The Globe audience

It can take some time to get used to the live audience at the Globe. It took me at least three or four weeks. Our rehearsals were in a very intimate space, and the actual theatre is quite big. My initial reaction to this was to project my voice very loudly. However, I have realised that I do not need to do this. The key to speaking in this space is being able to breathe in the right way. If you are able to do this, then your speeches can still be quite intimate, but can also be heard by all. Normally in a theatre there are lights and music, but here there are none. So we really have to concentrate on the person we are on stage with, as well as engaging the audience.

I enjoy playing to the audience, and letting them see different aspects of my character. I like sharing ‘secrets’ with the them. There is one section of the theatre, the top right bays, which I really play to. Before the fight with Edmund I turn to them and pray, so that they can see that I am unsure of what is going on, and then I turn back to the rest of the audience and pretend to be very confident. Not only does this help them see a different part of my character, but it also draws people in (who might otherwise feel isolated). My favourite moments on stage are when I want to laugh!

Last night the audience really changed during the performance. It started raining and so they were not very jolly in the second half of the play. The Dover Cliff scene, when I am pretending to help Gloucester commit suicide, is usually quite funny. But, last night the audience seemed to want it to be more serious.

I think that the feeling of the play at the end can be seen as both positive and negative, depending on the interpretation. It is really up to the audience to decide. I think that the ending in our production is a bit negative.

Funniest moment

My funniest moment on stage was actually at the Globe in Tokyo. We were performing a scene where everyone is released from prison. There was supposed to be eight people on stage, but everyone forgot to come out, and I was on stage alone! So, I sat for a while and then said my greatest Shakespearean improvisation – "Oh well. I’m glad I’m out" – and then I ran off stage! In this production I have missed the plank of wood that I have to hit my sword into on a few occasions. That is quite funny because I do not look as ‘butch’ as I hope to!

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 change frequently as the rehearsal and performance process progresses.

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