Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Hopetoun House, Edinburgh

The grounds of this extraordinary house seem to come out from the sea. One minute we were motoring through a small Scottish town and the next we were driving up a coastal road and turning into an extremely impressive estate drive. Suddenly this enormous house popped out from under the hill.

Transcript of Podcast

My good sweet mouse, I commend me heartily to you...

The grounds of this extraordinary house seem to come out from the sea. One minute we were motoring through a small Scottish town and the next we were driving up a coastal road and turning into an extremely impressive estate drive. Suddenly this enormous house popped out from under the hill. It looked like a painted façade. We have seen so many different grand houses on this tour. Hopetoun house is long and perfect, a wide, grey, stone Neo classical mansion . We should be wearing big French dresses, the type they wore at the time of the revolution. I am slightly desperate to walk down the front steps in a hooped skirt with a train hanging behind me.

Our dressing room is in the stables. It is always a joy and relief when there is enough room to do some stretches, and we aren’t changing on top of each other (or with snakes, or behind bars, or in an office, or a lecture theatre, or mock Edwardian nursery, or in a stationary trailer that ordinarily sells Indian curry). We each have our own dressing table to use. The way you prepare yourself before a show is a peculiar and personal ritual. I think Eliot and I are the most habitual. We are always to be seen walking alone at the back of where ever we are at the beginners call, doing our particular sequence of stretches (mine are silly really, but I don’t feel centred in the right way unless I do them).

On the first day, as we walked away from the grand house towards the stage, I realised that our set was around the west wing and down a slope in the middle of a clearing of an avenue leading away from the house. It was like a little secret world down there, and a mating nest for famous Scottish midges.

It seems a shame, to me, not to be performing within the embrace of the house. We could carry some of the ordered stones of the building into our world of Verona. It might help give the show a sense of the social enforcement and rigidity that keeps Juliet and Romeo imprisoned. I have come to love the security of a bit of building sheltering us. The solid backdrop infuses the production, but it also provides support for the sound because our voices bounce off it towards the audience. Here, in our clearing, there is an extraordinary and harrowing echo. When Richard cries out ‘Juliet’ in his death speech his voice flies around chasing the bats and causes the geese flying over to answer back!

We are coming to the end of what has been an epic run. We have had two matinee shows and a school visit (they were harsh critics!) and the papers in reviewing the production. We are almost dead; we have worked very hard in this beautiful but unrelenting space. And we are a long way from anywhere, even Edinburgh. I feel like we have run a marathon. I am very tearful and exhausted. We just have to get through the ‘get out’. The icy wind here has literally taken my breath away. I am really going to need the next couple of days to get my voice back and fight hard to stave off the cold that is trying to penetrate my bones.

… And so sweet mouse, farewell, and brook our long journey with patience,

Ellie Piercy

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