In her third blog post Pippa discusses the week in rehearsals, her costume and the challenges of behaving in an Elizabethan manner
Transcript of Podcast
This week has been a lot of full company calls. We started rehearsing as a full company towards the end of last week. On Monday and Tuesday we worked on Act I, then we ran it yesterday. Today we’ve been running Act II so we’ll be running Act III tonight. Tomorrow we’ll be working with the musicians for the first time and we’re running the whole play. We’re gathering the scenes together, combining the fairies, the mechanicals and the lovers into the play. It feels like we were keeping all the pieces apart and now we’re putting them together, like a jigsaw puzzle. Any gaps have been filled in, and we’re finding moments where all of us can be on the stage and cross at the same time, maybe even colliding, to show how we’re all in the woods together. The mechanicals are absolutely hilarious, the fairies are so distinct and interesting and creative it knocked my confidence a bit seeing them. But I’m sure that’s just the novelty of it. Maybe the others felt the same when they watch us. It makes you feel that this is going to be a really exciting show. Jonathan really goes for the truth of the situation. He really wants us to play the truth, as if it was for real, and so much comedy comes out of the way the mechanicals totally believe in what they are doing. The fairies have definitely got their own world. They sing and dance and have very particular movements, it’s really magical to see.
I’m still working through ideas about Hermia. I think by running the whole play it will help me to work out what’s going on in her head, because we’ve been doing all the scenes in isolation and it’s made it quite disjointed. We were talking about the woods being like the woods in The Blair Witch Project, to help us emphasise the fear that the lovers feel as these strange things happen to them. In some ways their characters explode. It’s difficult to get to that stage when you haven’t had a run up to it. I feel like I know where I want to go but I‘m not quite there yet. At the same time maybe that’s OK because we’ve got a week and a half until we open and we’ve got previews until press night. So there’s lots of time and I think the penny will start dropping a lot more when we’re in that space, and we’ve got costumes on. So I’m happy to still be working a few things out.
Scenery and music
In Athens all the scenery is black and when we go into the forest the fairies take away the black and reveal the blue stage and then put these poppies out, so it becomes a poppy field. The fairies drink and get high on the poppies, and when you come to Titania’s bower you actually go into a large poppy so the fairies become either human size or ant size. So you get that spectacle on the stage. We’ve heard the music for the show on CD, but we’ve got our first band call tomorrow. The lovers don’t have that much to do with the music. We don’t have any singing, which is a shame but we’ve heard the fairies sing and it sounds beautiful.
I had my wig tryout today, it’s very cool. It’s just an extension of my hair I have a hair-piece as well that comes down to my waist. It will be pinned up when I am in Athens, and when I come into the forest, it’s slowly comes down and becomes more and more bedraggled. We only get to work with the full costume in tech week. We don’t have any time to work with them in rehearsals. They’ve got practice skirts and corsets for us, but to be honest it’s completely different from when you get on the stage with your real one. In rehearsals we work in skirts rather than wear tracksuit bottoms or jeans and that’s supposed to remind us that physically we’re in the Elizabethan period rather than in 2008.
Another thing that challenges us is touch. In our culture it’s so easy to be tactile whereas in Elizabethan England, particularly between a man and a woman it costs a lot more to be like that. So we’ve been exploring that as well. The great thing is that Shakespeare puts the movement and the physicality in the text for you. And I am still finding Hermia’s physicality. It’s getting the balance in the beginning of being a traditional lover and then making the transition to heartbreak. She thinks her world is falling apart. Losing her lover, becoming frantic and mad, then thinking that her best friend has stolen her lover from her. Physically it would be going from something quite light, then to something incredibly earthy and very connected to her emotions. I’m still finding that. Within the big lovers’ fight there’s lots of jumping and climbing over people.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as she goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.