Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

In his third blog post Gareth discusses the use of music in the show, choreographing his character and working with in-house experts at the Globe.

Transcript of Podcast

The Director

Chris [Luscombe, director] has a broad idea of where he wants us. He is wonderfully mercurial, because he is a comic actor as well as a director, so he thinks on his feet, nothing is set. The process has been very democratic because people can come in and say “Wouldn’t it be better if...” or “Couldn’t I come in on...” and we’ll try it, to see if it works; so it’s very fluid. Part of me thinks we should be a bit further on in rehearsals than we are. But there’s never an actor who doesn’t think that, at any stage!

Music

There is an awful lot of incidental music in the show – a lot of it is underscored, there is on-track accuracy, pre-show, five live musicians. It is very complicated musically. So we had a whole day of music, with Nigel Hess [composer]. The music picks up a lot of cues at the end of scenes, so it gives the play fluidity. Both the way the stage is built out and the action are very complex, so the music will knit it together.

We’ve talked about audibility, we don’t have microphones so you can’t turn sound down, we’re all aware of that. The musical underscoring for the speeches is particularly loud, so it might well be that the musicians will have to be hiding behind those doors.

The first tavern scene has a song, which involves nearly everyone. There are two verses of the song, there is one to establish the tavern, then I come on with Simple for a little scene that we got reinstated, we go back to the tavern, there is music, a little bit of dialogue and then more music. This song was inserted to establish the tone and give more time to bring on all the furniture, so that the scene can start quickly then, with everything there. Anyway, even the people who aren’t officially in the tavern, they are bringing on chairs, and singing, of course to boost the sound, so that’s good. And there is a song at the end, which is in the play, not the jig. It is fine and simple fantasy, terrific music. I actually have a little song, but it’s unaccompanied, so he’s given me a tune for that. I told him that I’m tone deaf and he said, “You don’t have to be a good singer but here is the tune. Sing it and mess it up, why not?” So that’s let me off the hook which is a relief!

We haven’t done the jig yet but it will be a reprise of the tavern song, which we’ll all sing. Very jolly and very upbeat.

Movement

The movement is choreography rather than dancing. We had a session with Glynn [McDonald, Movement] and my main concern was whether, as the vicar, I was allowed to make contact with people; we went through bows and curtseys, physical acknowledgments. Glynn seemed to think I shouldn’t touch anyone as the vicar but I’m afraid we’re ignoring her; we’ve discovered a way I can greet people and it looks like a blessing, so they hold out both their hands, and I put my hand on top and shake it. So it is hand-shaking but it is in a sort of priestly way.

My character is a big stereotype, a comic stereotype too. So in terms of standing and moving, you could do funny walks, but it's about finding something appropriate.

Working with experts

I’ve requested a session with Giles [Block, Text] and another session with Glynn [McDonald, Movement]. I think if you’re in a building like this, with access to expertise, it’s a shame not to take advantage of it! There isn’t anything in particular to do with the play that I need to talk about, but these are things I didn’t do as a younger actor when I had the opportunity and I regret it. Like using the library, it’s wonderful to just pop in; I’ve got a little shelf in the library.

We had a lecture recently too and at the end we were allowed to request more info. My character is Welsh, and a priest; he is an outsider and he is a cleric. I wanted to know about the relationship between education, class and profession. Whether I would have had to come from a ‘good’ Welsh family to be educated, or, did they have scholarships? It is all very interesting.

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

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