Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 6

This is Rawiri's sixth bulletin, and focuses on the technical rehearsals.

Transcript of Podcast

Tech Week

In this theatre, it’s really, really different to a usual tech week because we don’t have lights and recorded sound. You would imagine that would speed the process up, but at the Globe, the technical is about us getting used to the space and costumes, as it’s the first time all of us are in the space.

The choreographer and the voice, movement and text coaches are all watching the rehearsals onstage and giving feedback, mostly through Dominic [Dromgoole, director]. So, for example, I would start to play with my voice, and Jan [Haydn Rowles, voice] came back to me really excited, saying “I don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re exactly on your optimum note. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!” Of course, the next time I went out, I totally lost it because I started thinking about it!

Working with the other actors

A lot of the things that we’d worked in rehearsals didn’t work quite as we thought once we were up on stage. One of the fantastic discoveries I made was in my first scene with Romeo; we were asked to experiment with the space and Dominic said, “Try being further apart from each other.” By being further apart on that stage, strangely it became more intimate and we were able to listen to each other better. It’s an absolute delight to work with Adetomiwa [Edun, Romeo] because it keeps me on my toes. It’s like playing on the centre court against Rafael Nadal – he’s incredibly fit, physical and mentally agile, a young man in his prime. There’s nothing better than working with somebody like that – he’s a beautiful listener and I’m learning a great deal from him about actively listening on stage. He’s absolutely in the moment.

Working with Ellie [Kendrick, Juliet] is incredible as well. I don’t have so much to do with her but eye contact with that girl is quite amazing. She fixes your eye. And there are times when the friar avoids people’s eyes, but it’s very difficult to avoid hers.

Watching the rest of the play

I wasn’t called for the first two and a half days of the technical rehearsals, so it was wonderful for me to be able to watch the show, I positioned myself in different parts of the theatre. My favourite place – and it probably isn’t the favourite with anyone else – is in the Lords’ and Ladies’ seats right around on the sides of the Middle Gallery, as it reminds me of the view from the wings. As a young actor, I had a lot of lead roles so I was on stage a lot, but when I was off stage, I loved watching the other actors from the wings. I’ve always maintained that those are the best seats in the house.

So I watched the fight scenes being rehearsed, sitting right up at the top and it was like a ballet. Ukweli [Roach, Tybalt] is a dancer, but Adetomiwa [Edun, Romeo] and Philip [Cumbus, Mercutio] were brilliant. The fighting was really brutal but also beautiful. The most exciting thing about the technical is we’re allowed to watch the other actors and that’s always the best way to learn. Ian [Redford, Capulet] is delightful to watch in that space, he is very comfortable with his voice and his movement.

It also gave me an opportunity to watch Fergal McElherron [Balthazar/Peter] who is one of the funniest, most naturally gifted comic actors you will ever see. He works hard and he’s not playing for the laugh, he’s playing for the cause. I was also able to watch the onstage relationships between him, Graham [Vick, Apothecary] and James [Lailey, Sampson] who act together. They are favourites with the audience because they provide increasingly-needed light relief. Straight after the pretend death of Juliet, on come the musicians and they are bizarrely funny. It’s straight after a scene where I see the audience crying every night. I’m the only character who knows it’s not real and even though the audience knows too, they still cry because of the work of Penny [Layden, the Nurse] and Miranda [Foster, Lady Capulet] – their reactions in that scene are gut-wrenching.

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

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