Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

This is Marcello's fourth blog entry for the 2005 production of Pericles in which he discusses moving from the rehearsal room to the stage, Boult's relationships and the upcoming technical rehearsals, amongst other things.

Transcript of Podcast

Running Acts

We put the first half of the show together at the beginning of the week, and then we ran the second half towards the end of the week, so now we’ve run both halves of the show. I felt I was no good; I didn’t feel the story at all. That's partly because, being such a complicated story, we have lots of changes with costume and props; they were not very smooth so the show became extremely long and we lost the sense of the play's story. Yesterday we did a run of the entire show which went much more smoothly. I was reassured by comments from other members of the cast: people told me how Boult's innocent voice became very disturbing in the brothel scenes, and they liked the eccentricity of King Simonides. I felt much more rooted in the story – I felt I had a place, I had a rhythm, and I had something to say. I find Helicanus’ journey more difficult because it's very split up. He has a short appearance at the beginning and another short appearance at the end of the story. So the maturity of that journey is not yet there.

Transfer from rehearsal room

We have the dimensions of the Globe stage marked out in the rehearsal room at Three Mills Studios, but we don’t have enough space at the back (where the Tiring House would be) to store all the objects we need for the scenes. That means it's difficult to be ready to enter on time. Also, we’re missing the actual feeling of the building, the shape of the Globe itself: we are still playing a lot of the action out front, as you might in a proscenium arch theatre. Of course, the Globe is not proscenium arch – it is a theatre in the round – but as performers we can’t feel the ‘round’ in the rehearsal room because we have walls very close to the columns; we’re performing in a space that throws us forward, whereas we should be using diagonals… the diagonals that form a figure of eight around the pillars are very strong positions on the Globe stage. We will see. There's going to be a lot to do in our week of technical rehearsals at the Globe.

My job is a bit tricky at the moment, because I have a double focus: I’m Master of Physical Play and an actor playing Simonides, Helicanus and Boult. Today we did a run of Act two and there were times when I stepped out of character to look at the physical images on stage. A double concentration that is not very good because you have to have an eye on these things, the ‘big picture’ on stage, and that doesn’t help my character work – it's a juggling act, although I’d prefer to think about my three characters at the moment! There are so many things to do, you can’t waste a second – this needs to be put in place, now decisions become fundamental, so if you miss out your timing with aerialists.

What makes Boult tick?

We had an enormous discussion last week about Boult. If Helicanus has loyalty and responsibility and protectiveness at his core, and Simonides is a person of extraordinary generosity and hospitality who loves honour, then what is Boult? What makes him tick? I feel he's very lost and beaten up, a young person just out of his teens. He doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong. He's on the lowest rung of the social order and at the bottom of the food chain; he works on the door in a brothel, simply opening and closing the bolt in a mechanical way. How does Marina convert Boult? There are three conversions, but I think the way she converts Boult in Act four, scene six stands out strangely. Her words convert the two gentlemen [IV.v] and Lysimachus [IV.vi] to more virtuous lives, but I think it's money that converts Boult – Marina offers Boult the gold that Lysimachus gave her and that seems to be what tilts the balance, changing his mind.

Marina and Boult: conversions

I suggested that when Boult sees that Marina has refused Lysimachus, who is the Governor of Mytilene and an enormous chance for us to make money, he sees thousands and thousands of pounds disappear. That money will never come in; we wasted our chance. Boult thinks that another course must be taken with her (she can’t be allowed to continue to turn away customers), so he wants to make love to her but he's caught by the Bawd and Pandar. He feels guilty, but when he finally manages to argue that she has driven Lysimachus from the brothel, and the lord is gone away saying his prayers, the bawd is convinced that Marina is a difficult nut to crack. Therefore the bawd says ‘Crack the glass of her virginity.’ In rehearsals, I went and collected instruments from the kitchen and the toilets – anything to get rid of this obstacle to our fortunes. Boult thinks that when Marina has lost her virginity, it will be easier to force her to do it again. He doesn’t understand that she is a special person. Only when he sees another way to make money by her does he change his mind.

Marina is very clever. I pointed out in rehearsals that she notices he's being mistreated by the Bawd and the Pandar:

Marina. What canst thou wish thine enemy to be?
Boult. Why, I could wish him to be my master, or rather, my mistress.
Marina. Neither of these are so bad as thou art,
Since they do better thee in their command.
[IV.vi]

She asks him ‘What wickedness would you wish on your enemy?’ and he replies ‘the wickedness of my master, or mistress.’ Marina says that Boult is worse than the Bawd and Pandar because, as his employers, they can make him do things they wouldn’t do themselves. He's their slave, and they can hit him, abuse him, they are better than you because they are in command. It's like he feels she is tapping into his weak points, holding up a mirror to him and asking ‘How can you accept this maltreatment? You are doing what you’re doing because you are being badly treated.’ So she's very clever about how she taps into people, but Boult has sort of closed off to that and will not listen.

Refusal to listen: an answer?

I saw a film called City of God and I felt that those young people listened very little to anybody. They’re driven by what they do, guns and drugs, and their refusal to listen is almost a way of answering in itself. Trying to answer the many questions about what happens to Boult's head, I kept thinking of that film and young people who did not want to listen. It's like when a young person goes and locks themselves in their room – Boult does the same thing in his head. He doesn’t want to listen to Marina telling him what he is. That's what I thought I’d take into the play, that not listening is an inexperienced way of answering, something you resort to when you are not so clever about coming back with arguments. At first I thought that Boult was clever and sharp – he comes back with the comment about losing a leg in the wars* – but that impression of him has changed a bit.

* What would you have me do? Go to the wars, would you? Where a man may serve seven years for the loss of a leg, and have not money enough in the end to buy him a wooden one? [IV.iv]

Boult's relationships

He's known the Bawd and the Pandar a long time. We think these people came from England and wanted to open a brothel, and they picked up Boult as a runner – someone to mind the door, collect the tips and do odd jobs. It's not a great way of living, although Boult thinks he's great and that his ‘profession’ is the greatest thing he could do. He gets really indignant at Marina ‘She makes our profession as it were to stink afore the face of the gods’ [Iv.vi] – it's like her slander is a crime. As far as he's concerned, people come to the brothel to have a good time, the clients leave happy and the brothel owners make money. He probably knows deep down that he's not so wonderful, but the conviction he's wonderful is very, very hard to crack. He wears tight jeans, modern trainers and a leather jacket with a backwards baseball cap. I’ve also been carrying a bolt to the brothel door in rehearsals and whenever he enters or leaves a room, he opens and closes the bolt (there are no ‘set’ doors on stage). We’ll see what he can do…

Looking forward to Technical rehearsal

Tomorrow we’ll run the play again before coming to the theatre for our five days of technical rehearsal. I know already that a lot has to change. We’ll focus on the vital work of linking the scenes so the story keeps its momentum and doesn’t die at the end of every scene – that needs smooth changes and good timing. We’ll also carry on adding the music to the play (that's something else we’ve been doing this week – the music is fantastic and really helps to create different atmospheres).

We’re not really improvising or exploring the text anymore – most of that work has been done. I feel that now we have to believe in our story. We need to start putting scenes and situations together; the jigsaw is all about locking everything together so that the scenes run smoothly from one to the next. That's the challenge for next week.

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 frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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