Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Production Notes 4

This is Patricia's final blog post. This week she reflects on the experience of performing at the Globe, considers the end of the play and gives advice for how to research a character.

Transcript of Podcast

From the Globe to Tokyo

We are now only doing three or four shows every week. This makes performances easier as we are not as tired, and I think that this benefits the show. It has been a long season; we have done about sixty-three shows and so it is difficult to keep the show ‘fresh’. It helps if we know that someone like the director or friends and family will be watching.

There are four weeks left at the Globe, we then have a five-day break and then we go to Tokyo, where we will be performing the show for two weeks. I am really looking forward to that and the rest of the cast have started reading their tourist guides! One of the actors will be unable to come, so we will be re-rehearsing with a new actor who will take his place.

Performing at the Globe and researching a character

Working at the Globe has been an amazing experience. It is definitely the hardest theatre I have worked in because of the technical demands. However, it is a very special place to work and we have had many wonderful audiences who have stood in the rain for three hours! In most theatres it is very easy to get used to the playing conditions and the technical considerations because everything goes dark and you cannot see the audience. At the Globe it took me at least fifteen performances to get used to the audience being visible, particularly when they move about a lot (putting raincoats on, eating, drinking or chatting). It can be incredibly hard to concentrate. I am only now completely comfortable in performances.

There are many things you have to think about during a performance. Generally the blocking of a scene comes naturally. If you are being confrontational then you will move near to the other character and if you are scared then you will move away. You also have to think about the language. Shakespeare's language is very difficult when you first read it, and there is no short-cut way of understanding it. When I first read a play it takes me a long time to understand it. The first thing I do, and I would advise everyone who is interested in Shakespeare to do the same, is to buy Lamb's Tales (written by Charles and Mary Lamb). They tell all of Shakespeare's plays like stories, so that it is easy to understand the plot. Once you understand the plot, you then have to start working through the language line by line. Stop every time you do not understand something and look it up in the reference section of the text. It also helps to look up words in the dictionary. I need to read the play at least three times before I can start talking about it.

If you are researching a character, go through the play and find out everything that is said about them. Important facts that I noted about Goneril were that she is the eldest daughter of three, has a difficult relationship with her father, has no mother around, has an unhappy marriage and she is aggressive. I discovered her aggression from the language alone, and by the way she reacts to events. She seems to plan ahead, and this seems to reveal to me a character that has spent a lot of time on her own and is lonely. Goneril's language is quite practical, whereas Cordelia's language is romantic and idealistic.

The ending

The end of the play is tragic, but I am not sure that the characters deserve their ends – nobody deserves to be murdered. However, I do feel that the tragedy could have been avoided. I think that Goneril goes mad at the end of the play, like many other characters, due to the kind of society that they live in. In the context of the play maybe Goneril does deserve to die, but it could also be said that she deserves a loving father or to be in a loving marriage.

I think that the play should end on a hopeful note, but I am not sure that this production does. I think that the last four lines of the play are hopeful:

The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much nor live so long.

I think that this is saying that the future will be easier to live in. However, by the end of the play, Lear has reconciled with Cordelia and so it is a shame that she dies. The way the play ends is a matter of interpretation, it can end in desolation or it can end in hope depending on the way you see it.

Memories

I have many favourite moments on stage from this season. There was one moment that was very funny when I was kneeling down on the corner of the stage, and when I stood up I realised that my skirt had gone over the head of someone who was standing in the Yard! Another day a big plank fell off the door (part of the set for King Lear are wooden planks along the back wall) and I had to try and kick it off, it took me six tries! The very first performance was scary but also very memorable.

This run has been very long and I think it will be a bit of a relief when it is finished! It is difficult to sustain a high level of performance when you are doing so many shows. Nevertheless, I have greatly enjoyed it.

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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