Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Tech

"The Costumes are the set!" Paul talks through what happens in tech week, including the important inclusion of costume - central to an Original Practices production - and also music.

Audio placeholder

Time: 7 minutes 42 seconds

Download (7.1MB, mp3 format)
To download, right click on the link and select 'Save link as'.

Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

So, what happens in tech week?

Paul Chahidi:

Right, tech week is where you go into the theatre for the first time properly, you start plotting in your entrances, your exits, your costume changes, music cues. At the Globe there are no lights so you don’t have to worry about that, you know, if you were in a conventional theatre you would be doing lots and lots of lighting cues and sound cues. What we have are trying our costumes on fully for the first time usually. We will have had fittings but we won’t have moved round in them and, you know, there’ll be adjustments being made, you’ll start getting used to moving around in it and, as I say, if you’ve got any quick changes at all you’ll start practicing those. With Original Practices, I mean, it’s not as simple as just unbuttoning and getting out, you need help every step of the way with a dresser, or sometimes two dressers. They’re very sumptuous, intricate costumes and they are almost – certainly in our show, we’ve got no set really, we’ve got some chairs and tables that’s it. The costumes are the set as it were and it marks the beginning of the process that I’m calling ‘costume becoming your clothing’ and hopefully over the course of a few weeks it doesn’t feel unfamiliar anymore and it’s just your character’s clothes. But it is a shock to begin with, but yes, you do all those things in tech week.

Hayley:

And what’s your costume like, or costumes?

Paul:

Well, I’ve got two characters obviously which we talked about. Hastings has probably got one of the most sumptuous men’s – I’ve got a massive what’s called a peasecod, so the cut of the doublet which is the jacket bit, is very tapered in at the waist but then there’s this bulge around where the tummy comes out, and it narrows to a point - and you’ll see this in all pictures – and mine is extremely pronounced. I have jewellery, I have a sort of fur lined cloak, I wear a wig for it and a hat – a very sumptuous hat – I’ve got the hose, I’ve got very white calf skinned shoes, and it all looks very, very fancy. And then it is very labour intensive to get on, it takes a good, sort of, 15 to 20 minutes to get a costume on, for which I have masses of help from Grace who’s my dresser – amazing group of dressers backstage who are specialised in getting us in and out of those costumes. There’s no velcro, no poppers, nothing like that, it’s all little bits of string, or pins, or the odd button and it all has to be done individually and there are hardly any shortcuts you can take with it.

Hayley:

And how long do you have between characters to change?

Paul:

Not bad actually. I go off to my death, as it were, as Hastings in the first half, then I have the interval and the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half to get into Tyrrell. And Tyrrell’s outfit’s much more simple, it is in fact the costume that belonged to Ian Talbot in the very first Twelfth Night at Middle Temple Hall and then it went onto Bill who took over. It’s a Toby Belch costume, it’s a beautiful, faded, old, velvet number, which I can move very easily in. In the Hasting’s costume I can’t even bend down to do my laces up, it’s that restrictive and confined; it’s incredible.  

Hayley:

And how did you find the blocking and things like that? Is that something you did in tech? Because I know that you mentioned this was something that came much later in the rehearsal process than perhaps you’re used to.

Paul:

Well, Tim [Carroll, director] is very interesting. I think he’s been a bit like this for a number of years, but certainly for the last few shows I did at the Globe with him. He has evolved a method and he is much more about letting it grow organically the blocking but just, kind of, instilling some principles in people of, you know, adjusting to each other and keeping it fluid. So if someone goes upstage, someone goes downstage and adjusts. If someone moves, someone else might move to adjust, and to be very aware of each other. So he’s done very little blocking actually, there are some group scenes with maybe, you know, 4 or 5, 6 people or more where he’s had to, but it’s been very free from that point of view and it’s a very nice way for going forward into a long run. So nothing gets too set in stone so it’s always possible to surprise each other with your moves onstage.

Hayley:

And what about the musicians then?

Paul:

We had a recording of the jig music but we had never done it live and it is just brilliant. I mean, when they come in and you have that, again that is painting a picture as much as lights or any set could do, and it’s integral to the feeling of an Original Practices production, but any production at the Globe the music becomes even more important. And, I mean, we are just very lucky to have Claire [Van Kampen, composer] who is a world expert in Renaissance and Elizabethan music, and I have been in shows where she’s done jazz as well, extraordinary, beautiful Elizabethan music. It really adds to the mood and the feel of the whole production, you know, and it transports you to that time.

Hayley:

And they also have their lovely, little costumes.

Paul:

They have their lovely, little costumes, and they’re up in the balcony, and they all come out with their hats on. The one slight thing we’re breaking with Original Practices is that we have women musicians which is, I don’t know why, but I’m very glad to have some more women on the scene because apart from Danni, our stage manager, that’s it! The music’s been great and we’ve got a little bit of underscoring so you’ve got some beautiful recorder music underneath some speeches, and then in between scenes you’ve got this lovely music, and then again at the end you’ve got the jig which is great.

Hayley:

So just a little bit maybe about the staging, so although you said there isn’t really much scenery and things like that, at the back you can see through at the beginning…

Paul:

Yes that’s right…

Hayley:

Inside the Tiring House.

Paul:

Yes, yes. I don’t know how much they’ve done that in recent years but certainly when we did Twelfth Night 10 years ago, both in Middle Temple Hall and at the Globe, we explored this idea of letting the audience see us getting ready. So we will come down, maybe in just our shirts which are kind of like night shirts, they look like night shirts, and then get dressed in the Tiring House. The walls are removed, the doors are open and the tables are there, and the audience can then see the whole process of us getting into costume and character. They will see the men being transformed into women and the rest of us going from a fairly blank canvas to our characters. And I think that’s a really nice way to ease everyone into the play and also, because the Globe is such a non-literal space, by which I mean that we’re not trying in a sense with lights and a darkened room to, even for a second, pretend we’re producing a realistic or naturalistic version of a world, it’s asking people from the word go to use their imagination and make that imaginative leap. And I think that seeing that as well is going, “Look, this is all artificial, we are getting dressed as actors, you are seeing that and now we’re going to go into this world of the play and hopefully you’ll make that leap with us and, you know, jump with us into the world.”

Back to top

ADD YOUR THOUGHTS TO THE CONVERSation

We welcome your opinions. This is a public forum. Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our Forum Rules.