Shakespeare's Globe

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Laura Rogers (Lady Macbeth) discusses Lady Macbeth's motivations in persuading Macbeth to murder Duncan, the additions to the Globe set for this production and coping with people fainting!

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Time: 12 minutes, 32 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Paul Shuter:

We’re four weeks or so into the run, on a hot, sultry London afternoon, finished a performance. How do you organise your day when you’re performing as opposed to when you’re rehearsing?

Laura Rogers:

Well, this is a different schedule to a lot of theatres because obviously we’re in rep with Henry VIII now. Where in a regular theatre you’d do evening shows every night apart from a Sunday and then have a matinee midweek, say, and a matinee on a Saturday and it was always the same, here we have to keep looking in our diaries to remember when the next show is, because we have lots of matinees throughout the week and then on Sundays we do two shows as well. So on days when there’s a matinee, in all fairness, if we’ve had an evening show the night before which hasn’t finished till half past ten, and then by the time you’ve washed off all the blood and seen your friends and got home, it might well be half twelve, one o’clock in the morning.

So I tend to not get up too early, do general things that need to be done around the house, although at the moment the flat’s looking incredibly untidy because I just seem to get up, shower and go! I like to be here before we have to, so that I can just settle into the day, have a sit down, have a cup of tea, but we have to be here anyway for about half twelve, really – so I try to get in for 12 o’clock. And then if it’s an evening show, then we don’t have to be here until about half five, six, so I will catch up with friends that I haven’t seen, do anything boring – everyday things like go to the bank, go to the supermarket, and if it’s a nice day, go to the park, go for a walk, and if it’s rainy then do something inside. The days seem to go really quickly, you don’t want to do anything that’s going to exert yourself too much before a show.

PS:

Do you eat before the show or do you eat after?

LR:

I used to have such good routine of eating at about 4 so then I would be not too full before the show. But sometimes now I do eat after the show, if I’ve got friends and they want to go, it’s very tempting not to, because you do expend a lot of energy doing this, so I feel like I need far more meals than normal. Sometimes I found myself at home eating pasta at home at 2 in the morning, which is not a good idea! And so I need to get myself back into a good routine, but I do like to eat not too close to the show.

PS:

And how long does it take you to calm down afterwards?

LR:

Well, I suppose in all fairness my major last scene, after I’ve finished that, I’m on the stage quite a lot as a dead body, so I get wrapped in a blanket and just lie down, which is always quite nice! Just to have a little rest! And then I go and have a shower and just shower it all off, and I find that refreshes me, cools me down, and start just taking all the makeup off. And then all the girls in the dressing room on a Sunday night (because we have Mondays off), we take it turns to buy a bottle of bubbly or sparkling wine, and we have a glass of that all together in the dressing room. It’s just about getting back to ‘Laura’ as opposed to being stuck in this really dark world. If I’ve got friends in we’ll go to the bar and have a drink and a chat and a laugh, and then just try and unwind like that really.

PS:

Yeah, yes, I mean, just about the last thing that happens to you is that rather terrifying fall off the stage.

LR:

Yes, yeah! But I quite enjoy that, it’s not too hair-raising a fall for me. I feel safe because I can’t see it myself, and my eyes are closed and the boys are always there to catch me – touch wood so far!

PS:

Does the jig produce a different ending to a performance that just a conventional curtain call would do?

LR:

Yeah, I think, I love ending with a jig because it really, it brings everybody together and it sort of cleanses the space. Because we’ve been in such a dark world, and then suddenly we’re all there singing and dancing in unison, clapping away, really selling it to the audience, and they love it because it’s a chance for them to release as well. And I think if it just finished on a Malcolm’s end speech and then we came out for a bow… I just think it needs that extra thing, and the Globe are fantastic at putting on great jigs here, and every one of them is so different, but I really would be disappointed if I came to the Globe and there wasn’t one.

PS:

Yeah, I mean, strangely, when I’m in the house I feel like I need it more when it’s a tragedy than when it’s a comedy. It’s great when it’s a comedy, but it is a release isn’t it, and you are in some dark places. Right, if we move on to thinking about one of the scenes in a bit more detail, and the one that we said that we’d talk about is your scene with Macbeth when you’re really going to persuade him and he’s got to do it, he’s had his soliloquy, you come in at the end of his soliloquy, more or less the first thing he says to you is “we’re not going to do it”. And then you turn him round. How do you plan your way through that series of exchanges?

LR:

Well, I think Lady Macbeth has really been gearing herself up, there’s lots of adrenaline and she realises “this is going to happen”, she knows what they’re going to do, they’ve talked about it, so she’s going in to the banquet full of adrenaline, a bit nervous but mostly excited, not really thinking about what’s going to happen afterwards but knowing that it’s really close now, what they have been wanting for so long is very close, and then she goes in and he says “No, I’ve decided, he’s been really great to me recently and I don’t want to go through with it”. And it’s devastating for her, because suddenly it feels like the plan that they’ve always been in together, and they’ve always made decisions together, he’s suddenly gone “No, that’s it”, and there’s nothing she can do.

So I think the first thing is that she gets very angry and tries to manipulate him by calling him a coward and she knows how to press his buttons, so she really manipulates him by saying that he’s not as much of a man as she thought he was, and of course that is the hardest thing for him to listen to, and that he would be far more manly if he went through with it and he’s just a coward for wanting to pull out. And then we have a bit of a scrap, because obviously that has angered him so much, so he gets me onto the floor and there’s quite a rough kerfuffle before I am able to push him off.

That tactic obviously isn’t working, and the next thing to really … we talked and I think I mentioned this before, Elliot and I before we started rehearsals, and we thought perhaps they’d had a child that had died quite recently and that was still a very sore point, and so with that in mind, the next “I have given suck, and know / How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me: / I would, while it was smiling in my face, / Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, / And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this.” (1, 7, 54-9), that is a way of encouraging him, in that that’s probably the worst thing a woman could possibly say, particularly a woman that has given birth and has lost the child, and he, for her to say that to him, like, I get quite choked when I say it. I think it’s complete emotional blackmail.

PS:

And is she, in your characterisation of her, is she standing back from this and being manipulative, or is she just lost in the moment herself?

LR:

I think she’s lost in the moment. I think it is a manipulation, but I think it’s not her putting it on. I think she’s thinking “How could I put this into words”, you know: “You know how much I cared about that child, and yet I would still kill the child if I’d made a promise like this”. So she is saying that she is, in all respects, loyal and true to her word and he can’t go through with it, and it’s that point then you see that he’s starting to come round to her way of thinking, because all he can say is “What happens if we fail?” And she says well, “If you stay with us, if you stay with this pact, we won’t fail”, and then she comes up with the plan. And she makes it sound so clean and so foolproof that it’s simple, and it would never fail, and that’s when he agrees.

PS:

And at that moment she’s definitely the stronger one in the relationship isn’t she?

LR:

Yeah.

PS:

This has got a very unusual set for the Globe, the membrane, as it’s called, the black cloth stretches out over about 2/3rds of the yard, many of the groundlings are standing there with their heads popping through the slits, and the entire back of the stage is draped in black. For somebody who’s acted here as much as you have, does it change the character of the space during the play?

LR:

Yeah, I think it does, I mean, I know that from the point of view of the witches and the men that come out of the pods – the witches run under the feet of people and obviously if you’re stuck with your neck hanging out of the cloth, you can’t see anything underneath you – that is far more of a shock and a surprise and it really creates the atmosphere that Lucy [Bailey, the director of Macbeth] wanted for the show. And for that reason I like it as well. And also the audience have said that, the audience that are sitting looking down, it does look like there’s a lot of dismembered heads watching the show, so it creates the world for them.

PS:

Yes, from the galleries it must be… I’ve actually not seen it from the galleries, but that must be where you really need to look at it… there’s some disruption going on…

LR:

Yeah, yeah.

PS:

What about the fainting, is that disturbing?

LR:

Actually, I know that apparently we had last week, 25 before, or 23, something like that, before the Porter’s scene. And the Porter’s scene happens quite…

PS:

It’s not that far through!

LR:

Yeah, it’s not even… it’s before the interval anyway… Yes, I actually didn’t see any of them! I can’t believe how I missed them, but you often hear a ripple of chatting, or people kind of turning round or something and that’s probably to see whether a person’s fainted, but I personally haven’t ever seen them myself. A lot of the time I mean you do look at the groundlings, but also I can’t spend my whole time with my head down, so I do spend a lot of time looking up and around and everything, so you wouldn’t necessarily see them. I’m quite pleased, because I think it might throw me to see them dropping!

PS:

Yes, yes, for those people who are set off by stage blood… you’re coated in it when you come on…

LR:

Oh yes, by the end I am covered with it… by the end, but by that point they’ve seen so much and I think there’s no-one who’s quite so bloody as the Bloody Captain at the beginning, and he comes on completely drenched in blood, and spits blood out, so I think we get a lot of the fainters then!

PS:

Then Cawdor’s tongue…

LR:

Oh yeah. I actually don’t like it when one of the witches is stabbing the ear of the Porter, that moment, that’s really nasty, I don’t like that bit…

PS:

There’s something not healthy about those two at all…

LR:

No!

PS:

Okay, well, thanks very much.

LR:

Thank you!

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