Arriving at a National Trust venue is always immediately different from anywhere else. We were greeted at the gates by Brian. He was making sure that all five actors in the touring van were, ‘in this play then’ (despite the Globe logo being on the side of the van!).
Transcript of Podcast
My good sweet mouse I commend me heartily to you…
Arriving at a National Trust venue is always immediately different from anywhere else. We were greeted at the gates by Brian. He was making sure that all five actors in the touring van were, ‘in this play then’ (despite the Globe logo being on the side of the van!). After being allowed through the gates we were shown into the office/dressing room, to dump our travel bags.
The stage here at Claremont Gardens is surrounded by beautifully pruned hedges. The backdrop to our set is a lake, which is crying out for a Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt. The space is quite dramatic. The land forms a natural amphitheatre, however when we did our vocal warm up we realised it was definitely not Delphi. The sound dissipated and it was impossible to know where it went - the sky? With a lake, rather than a piece of architecture, behind us the sound was skimming away over its surface. I was very aware that my female voice needed deeper resonance to be heard and a huge amount of breath.
There have definitely been some rather bizarre happenings here at Claremont Gardens. It started with the back window of the camper van smashing to pieces and shattering all over the floor – unbeknown to Julian, who was in the middle of the fight with Mark – which hampered the rest of the show. Then just as the silent moment of my death, a huge sneeze exploded out of a female member of the audience! Then there was the screaming baby, who kept starting up again when there was any shouting on stage, which was constant through-out, the banishing scenes. The lake provided a very welcoming swarm of mosquitoes and we provided them with a delicious feast - especially me and Richard as two scantily clad dead bodies. It is very hard to be dead when you can hear that high pitched buzz and then feel something crawl into your shirt and start sucking your blood. However, the piece de resistance was the firework display last night that spontaneously began in the sky above us as I slit my throat in the final act. It got to the point where we couldn’t even hear each other on the stage, so the audience didn’t have a hope.
It is a beautiful but tough space. The audience were quite far away and difficult to reach vocally, but we expanded our lungs and performed an operatic Romeo and Juliet. I have found this space the most difficult so far, even harder than the windswept Lancaster or the open plains of Buxton. There was just no atmosphere or sound containment. It disappeared and made it very difficult to even feel the other actors on the stage, which is a vital connection - particularly with the Nurse as we need to read each other like books. It is very difficult for us to hear the audiences reactions, which we have come to expect and depend upon. Thankfully, one evening, we had a very vocal group of the Globe’s friends sitting right up by the stage. They were so reassuring providing very vocal responses and huge laughs.
The audience did seem to enjoy it very much, which was really encouraging. After the enormous marathon and effort needed to be able to get any projected sounds out to reach them in this void space all you wanted to do was collapse. This train journey back to London is a pretty silent one.
And so sweet mouse, farewell, and brook our long journey with patience,