Shakespeare's Globe

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Ony talks about performing on the Globe stage; how this venue feels more like a rock concert than a theatre and how she is overcoming the unpredictable weather conditions.

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Time: 10 minutes, 11 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

So you’re now into performance.

Ony Uhiara:

Yes.

HB:

So how was the opening night, the first preview?

OU:

The first preview felt a bit like we did a rock concert to be honest. It was so exhilarating, and nervous energy, and excitement and the audience were amazing as well. Yeah, it was great. I’ve never felt anything like that.

HB:

So many people say it’s like a concert, just more like a crowd than an audience almost. Were they reacting in the way that you’d expected to either the comedy or the sad moments?

OU:

No, there was quite a lot of surprises because when we were teching and we had the tour groups in and then things like that, you know, they couldn’t really play off them. Sometimes they’d be attentive but just to have the whole space react to things and - yeah, there were a lot of surprises to me.

HB:

Yes, it must have been quite hard for you before. I suppose when the tour groups – they only see little bits and so…

OU:

…Out of context. So you kind of find yourself having to wait because they were laughing and then, “Oh! Oh, okay, this is how it’s going to work.” And then, you know…

HB:

...That’s why you have the previews to kind of suss out things.

OU:

Yeah, get yourself into a familiar ground, so to speak.

HB:

Yeah, definitely. And then how about press night?

OU:

Well, it’s all a blur actually. Press night was exciting as well. I try not to get too jittery otherwise I think I’ll just start getting to be scared. So I was very calm and a little bit of nerves underneath; I made myself not really think about it.

HB:

Try and think it is another show. I know the weather was awful during the day.

OU:

It added to the amazing experience that is the Globe because the afternoon show it was like we were doing Pericles or something and not Much Ado because it was like torrential rain and we had to rework some of the blocking for safety.

HB:

As in not coming so far out?

OU:

Yeah, I mean sometimes – one of the scenes I was up stage and Phil was downstage and I was just like “You’re getting so soaked.” But I mean he quite enjoyed it actually.

HB:

Yes, I guess - and I always think the little pools at the front - because I’m sure you’re at risk of flooding, but it waters the plants as well so maybe it’s not so bad. I suppose the thing with your set, it’s like North-African feel.

OU:

Yeah, it could have worked like tropical.

HB:

Some sort of monsoon. Exactly, but it’s just what you expect, this is what it’s like at the Globe. But I guess it’s your first time so…

OU:

...And sometimes I found if it’s drizzling or if it’s bucketing down, just like a little bit of dampness affects the sound as well. You’re speaking your lines and you’re thinking, “Well, this sounds a bit strange.” So you have to kind of adjust to that as well.

HB:

Yeah, if you think of it - gosh, there are so many things to think about. And how about the audience, how do you find them on days like this? Less receptive or maybe not?

OU:

I think that first – on that press date, when we had, I think, the first heavy shower and then the audience kind of went “ahhhhh”. And you’re thinking “Please don’t go! Are you going to go? Please don’t go. Stay where you are.” And then a few went and then they came back and then everyone had their macks and ponchos and…

HB:

Yeah, they’d just gone to the shop to buy their ponchos.

OU:

Yeah, and they were like “We’re all in this together! We’re all getting wet.” So it was good.

HB:

I think, yeah, it is unfortunate with the weather sometimes but people know what they’re letting themselves in for and they make the best of it.

OU:

I think it’s a bit like a war scar or something. They feel like, you know, “We watched this show and it was bucketing down on us.” Kind of get through it all together.

HB:

No, you’re so right, yeah, you all made it through which is great. And so during performance, or since rehearsal, do you think the performance has changed in any way? So throughout tech week did it change that dramatically once you got on stage?

OU:

Yeah, I mean Jeremy [Herrin, Director] is very adept at kind of find tuning and reanalysing scenes, or moments in scenes, that aren’t quite working. So yeah, we did quite a bit of that which was good; especially for me, like my first time being on it, I kind of felt a bit uncertain or a bit unconfident. So yeah, it was good to kind of keep working on things all through the previews and teching.

HB:

I guess the transition for you was huge then because it’s not the same as the rehearsal room.

OU:

No, not at all.

HB:

And I guess in tech week you started working with the musicians and things like that.

OU:

Yeah which was good. With the jig and the mask - just a difference in having them play live than to how it is in the recording. We’d start doing them and then we’d find out we’d all started doing the wrong steps at the wrong time, so that was a lot to get used to as well. Oh, the other night, I got so – it’s just so much fun and I just got so swept away. And then it was me and Phil doing our little scarf dance, he was cracking some - he was just being funny and then I kind of stacked it a bit and had to kind of hold myself and like focus and like not have too much fun because I still had to do a dance.

HB:

Yes, stay in character, exactly. And how about for your performance, do you think - has it changed in any way, maybe since I last spoke to you?

OU:

Yes.

HB:

In what way?

OU:

I think so. I think everyone’s has just got a lot fuller and little nuances. As the weeks have gone by I think my eye level has risen a bit, like I really just used to have to force myself to look up into the audience. We have everybody from the ground to the Gods just – yeah, I had to make myself be brave and just lift my head or pick thoughts from up there rather than in a kind of shy way.

HB:

Yeah, exactly, and that’s something again you can’t learn, even during tech week you can’t learn that...

OU:

…Not in the rehearsal room - and right at the edges as well. It’s such a special building.

HB:

It is. And I want to ask what’s your favourite moment in the play?

OU:

Oh, there are lots.

HB:

When I’ve asked this it can be your character’s favourite and also just within the whole play. So it might even be a scene you don’t like, so how about your character?

OU:

For my character?...

HB:

...Playing dead? That’s quite fun. I liked that bit. Just get a bit of rest.

OU:

I did like that bit as well but I always get a bit like “Can you see my eyes blinking under there?”

HB:

And don’t breathe!

OU:

No. I do really love the wedding.

HB:

This is when suddenly this is actually not very funny.

OU:

Yeah, just - and you’re looking into the audience and suddenly people who had grins from ear to ear suddenly look traumatised. Yeah, I really enjoyed the wedding just because there are so many of us on stage all together.

HB:

And it’s your moment for your character as well.

OU:

Yeah, but I just like – I think it’s so interesting the way it plays out. In the play Claudio and Benedick say they’ve heard this from Hero, it’s like she’s the one to go to, if you want the truth it’s like you go to her. But then when it comes to this accusation he’s like no, no one’s listening at all, no one’s jumping to her defence.

HB:

Suddenly you’re no longer truthful when it comes to yourself. Yeah, that’s really interesting.

OU:

And so, yeah, I really love the way that plays out and Leonato’s reaction.

HB:

I think so many characters’ reactions; suddenly you go from really liking Claudio to hating him and Don Pedro as well and your father.

OU:

Yeah, I think one of my favourite scenes is in the second act when it’s Don Pedro and Claudio, after it’s been pronounced that Hero’s dead. And they come outside the house, and Antonio and Leonato have been talking and trying to temper their anger, and then they want to kind of start squaring up with Claudio and then – I love it. And when Don Pedro kneels down, I can watch that scene forever and ever our men, it’s gorgeous, it’s really special, I think, that scene.

HB:

It’s so nice that you are choosing scenes that aren’t necessarily the comic ones.

OU:

But there’s so much, there’s so much. Sometimes when we’re all in the green room and we’re watching and we’re like “Oh...” Kind of our favourite bits even like something as random as in the Night Watch scene when they catch Conrad and Borachio. Just even the way like when David Nellist does his little comedy hiding turn, just the way that his trousers swish around we’re like “hahaha”. It’s like little things like that.

HB:

It shows that you know the play very well.

OU:

Yeah, I mean, I think we’ve got a lot of love for each other and a lot of appreciation for everyone’s generosity and talent that they bring, I think.

HB:

How about the other side of it? Are there any scenes that you find hard to unlock or moments that you find tricky?

OU:

I think I always was a bit, not hesitant, but just – I was still trying to find my feet in the girl’s gulling of Beatrice scene. It was just so strange to go from saying one or two lines and then commanding this scene with all these long speeches.

HB:

And maybe that’s the key scene for your character because it says a lot about you.

OU:

Yeah, I’m enjoying it more and more. I think we had to do quite a few re-workings and reanalysing our intentions for that scene, but yeah, we’re having fun now.

HB:

But that’s nice that you’re always still developing, it means that each time there’s...

OU:

...Always and I think it’s got – even up to the last performance, it’s always got to be like a work in progress really.

HB:

Because you’re on for quite a long run so I think it’s going to change so much. I fully intend to come and see it in a month or two’s time just to see. I think it will be quite different.

OU:

I know and I think – I know with me that I’m thinking there’s always something. I’m always trying to find the answer to such or something or “How can I crack this? And how can I make this work?” Yeah, so it’s still a working progress.

HB:

Yeah, definitely, and I just wanted to end by saying that you definitely have the nicest costumes and I know you were saying how you loved your sleeves; I loved your sleeves.

OU:

Yes, they’re beautiful aren’t they?

HB:

They’re so lovely, the colours are really nice.

OU:

I picked them out myself, well apart from the orange, I let Mike have that orange. He is really amazing, Mike Britton [Designer], at what he does, just complementing and contrasting and just, you know, the whole kind of colour scale of the play, of the world that we’re inviting an audience into.

HB:

Yes, it’s really lovely. And I will look forward to seeing it again very soon.

OU:

Good, good.

HB:

Thank you very much then.

OU:

Thank you.

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