Shakespeare's Globe

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“Having the focus and concentration to make the character arrive immediately was a challenge, which was really helped by my costume I must say. It’s pink. It’s pink and extremely loud.”
In his second interview Dickon talks about the complicated rehearsal process, his costume, and language homework.

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Time: 5 minutes 52 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks: Welcome to the Adopt an Actor podcast series. This is the second interview with Dickon Tyrell who is playing the role of Humphrey in The Knight of the Burning Pestle.

How was the rehearsal period?

DT: Well because I was performing in Malfi, doing 8 shows a week, because of Equity rules the director could only have the actor – each actor for 12 hours a week. That’s no time. So the rehearsals were very quick and there wasn’t really any time to a lot of table work. I mean you’d read a scene, chat about it, and then it was straight onto its feet in that same rehearsal. So the process was very quick, but it had to be because we had to put a play on. So, you know no one’s gonna watch it and think ‘Oh they only had the actors for 12 hours a week’, it’s tough you know, they want to see a show. So it was very intense, and then as I say we were into Malfi in the evening. So it required quite a great deal of focus.

PB: Did that help with; the play is quite chaotic in its nature, did that help towards an almost semi-improv…

DT: Yeah, I mean for me I don’t end up having to do so much improv, because I’m in the London Merchant which is the scripted play if you like. I’ve got a few moments, but it was very much trying to, not to sound pretentious, but understand what the situation was and how to play it. And this meta-theatrical way of being able to flip out of the play, and become this character, the actor your also playing, whose responding to the interruptions of the citizens. So it was really, yeah very intense.  

PB: Yeah.

DT: Yeah so not a lot of time to improvise really.

PB: did you do a lot of work on the text then, a lot of language work…

DT: That was pretty much what we had to do as homework, there was a, because there wasn’t the time. You’ve just got to work out where you’re gonna stand on the stage, what your relationship is with somebody, and know what the story is, just to tell the story. So any of that, I mean if there were any problems with text then talk to the director, but on the whole it was really about at home, unlocking it and finding it yourself really.

PB: Were there any scenes that you found to be quite difficult to unlock?

DT: Erm, well my first scene, which is – I don’t know how long it is, it’s quite long. And just conquering the fear because, you know you have to hit the ground running in this play, for everybody. There’s no sort of, ‘oh I’ll sort of ease my way in in this scene’. This character of Humphrey is there, has to be there immediately. So just having the focus and the concentration to make the character arrive immediately which was really helped by my costume I must say. This, anyway, maybe we’ll talk about that, but um…

PB: Yeah, lets talk about that. What is your costume like? And how does it help with Humphrey?

DT: Well it’s pink. It’s pink and extremely loud. And I have a blonde wig and a pink hat. So he arrives centre stage, walk down. A great moment that came out of rehearsal was in the first week, we were in the theatre playing, putting it on its feet, walking round with scripts. And as I walked out one of the actors was exiting, and he walked up to me and I just said to him, ‘Walk around me’. And he had to leave. So immediately that was my improvised head on there, so it immediately sets up this character as rather pompous, and the actor who is playing this character as rather pompous. Which was a wonderful signature moment for me within the first 10 seconds of arriving. Which really made the character present immediately. So Adele facilitated playing like that, and that was in week 1. So that was quite a, quite a discovery.

PB: Quite a significant scene for your character.

DT: Absolutely. Absolutely. And also for the actor you’re playing. You’ve got your character of Humphrey and then there’s this character who’s the actor performing in the London Merchant. So we sort of settled on this, someone being rather arrogant, vein… so that’s the default when it’s not Humphrey, it’s this actor. And that seems to work very well in this meta-theatrical way, and the world that Adele has created, and the play asks for.

PB: That world is quite different to Malfi which you’ve also performed in, how is it different would you say? Are there any similarities or differences?

DT: Differences certainly. I mean, tragedy, first time in the space, lots more candles, much darker, much more intimate. A lot of people said watching Malfi was like being in the front room. Adele has completely changed that. It’s much lighter, the space, we have run-arounds round the back of the audience, and I feel that the whole of the theatre seems very very involved in Adele’s world of Pestle. And of course just the, well its comedy its wonderful, the audience are… I mean there’s comedy in Malfi but to have found this play again that was lost I think, it was performed a few years ago and was critically, absolutely panned. And Adele has taken this play off the academic shelf if you like, and again it’s a thriving theatre piece.

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