Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsals 2

Laura Rogers (Lady Macbeth) discusses how Lady Macbeth has developed, her costume and adding music to the production.

Transcript of Podcast

Paul Shuter:

Here we are, five weeks into the rehearsal period, you’ve got one more week before you start the tech… how’s Lady Macbeth developing? Has she changed much?

Laura Rogers:

Well, we did a run through of the first half at the beginning of last week and that seemed to just be adrenaline fuelled really, I think that’s always the case when you put something together for the first time, regardless of whether there’s an audience or not, because you’re still doing it in front of your cast-mates, it’s still a sense that you’re putting on a performance and so the words fail you for a bit and everything just seems to be a general blur, but it’s always good to get that one over and done with, because you know hopefully you know it’s not going to be like that again until the press come in! So it was good to just plot out the through-line, and how her mood changes, and at what times she becomes, she starts to become more fragile, and it’s frenzied, it appeared to me, because we actually need to go back and rehearse the first scene that I do with the letter, because if you start that on the wrong, with the wrong pitch then it’s very easy for… you feel like you’re trying to run after yourself, chase after yourself again.

PS:

Yeah, you haven’t got enough left to go!

LR:

Yes, so that being the fact that my own nerves and my adrenaline were so, you know, fraught anyway, I started it in that run-through at a nervous point, and playing it as though the letter, we’re not sure in this letter if it’s going to tell us our husband’s dead or anything else. That’s not helpful for me, so I’m going to go back, redirect that so that she’s excited, so that at the beginning it’s full of hope of what they’re going to achieve, the things that are waiting for them, so that then you do have somewhere to go. So it all sort of felt like I was playing the whole thing neurotically and having one half hour long panic attack! Hopefully, if I want to be able to sustain this run until June 27th I’ll have to be able to find a time where I can just breathe. That was good to find out, because obviously there is going to be, it’s going to get to that point through as the play progresses where she does become a nervous wreck and there are all the way through, you know, the stakes very high and as soon as they’ve done the deed they are terrified because they don’t know who suspects what, who’s going to find out, what the consequences will be, things start to unravel very quickly as it is but I think it’s about pitching that first scene right and there is hope at the beginning, and excitement for her.

So, since then we’ve really been concentrating on the second half. What we’ve found from doing that run, which might change, but Lucy [Bailey, director] wants to change the interval, because we were doing it after the second banquet which meant the first half was very long in comparison to the second half. Now she wants to go back and put it just after Banquo’s death, which I think works. So we’ve been concentrating on the second half, and as you know Lady Macbeth doesn’t have so much to do in the second half, that’s the demise I suppose, and it’s the very last scene where you see that she’s gone mad, really. So that’s what we’ll be focussing on as a result. I’ve had quite a few sessions in the middle of days off because they’ve been working with everybody else so I’m quite anxious to get back to cementing or at least going over and playing more with the first half.

PS:

Back onto that the second half of this week?

LR:

Yes because, we’re doing it tonight, a run of the second half, so we’ll start from scratch again tomorrow.

PS:

Which scene shall we talk about? That scene with the letter?

LR:

Yes, the scene with the letter, the thing is, because we’re working with Javier [de Frutos] as well, who’s the movement man, so I tried, we tried one rehearsal where… because in our set there’s a curtain that can move around the stage and can be moved around and can also, I think, can move without people aiding it, and that’s got to be obviously something that we work out in the tech, but this is the first scene at the beginning where you see somebody on their own in their own private space, it’s a domestic situation, and so we were playing with the idea of being very physical within this curtain, that she’s preparing the room for her husband to come home, but I think that this is something that we have to sort out, Lucy and Javier there at the same time, because otherwise you can get, I end up speaking all that scene after the messenger leaves, “The raven himself is hoarse” [1, 5], end up speaking it all into a curtain, which isn’t too helpful! Because obviously there’s a lot of work, it’s about conjuring the spirits, from

                                         come you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topfull
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold, hold!                           (1, 5, 40-54)

at which point Elliot is seen behind the curtain, and that’s when it become very physical, it’s about, for me at this stage, working out whether in that speech beforehand I am actually talking to spirits or merely galvanising myself. I think it’s… Lucy really wants to push the innocence in her, the excitement in her at the beginning, that she’s not this dark, dark witch of a person at the beginning, so I think we’re steering towards… It’s more about a galvanising rather than that she talks to the dark, she talks to evil spirits.

PS:

Do you have any idea about how old she is?

LR:

I think we did… we did a research, everybody had something to research and we did go and put it to the rest of the company and one of the girl’s research topics was women in the home and their roles and, you know, and she discovered that women got married as young as twelve years old and start to give birth at around the age of 15, which now seems incredibly young, and obviously I’m not playing Lady Macbeth as a 15 year old or a 14 year old, but I think we suggested maybe 23, 24.

PS:

So she’s had plenty of time to get married, have a child or children, get widowed and…

LR:

I don’t think we are saying that so much, I don’t know… I think, as in modern days, as in now, we’re speaking 23, 24, so in terms of that what we’re saying is it’s a new marriage, they’ve been together maybe 2 years, courting before that. The only way that I could really understand it, being not 15 myself, is to sort of put it into around that age, so we’re not saying ‘oh they’ve been together’…

PS:

No, but that’s what’s happened with her previous marriage, that’s what, she’d still be a young woman but have had this previous marriage.

LR:

Yeah, although we’re not, we haven’t really discussed it that her having had… we’ve sort of gone off that route of her having been married before and having had a child with somebody else before, I think we discussed the possibilities that Macbeth and her maybe met when she was possibly still a bit too young to have… to get married, although you know, obviously knowing now that in those days you were never really too young, but…

PS:

The last time you talked that they might have been, sort of, family friends?

LR:

Family friends, yes perhaps, and had had… yeah, I think what Lucy wants is the idea that these two people have to be together, they were the only ones for each other, it’s a given: you’ve got her, you’ve got him, they’re destined to be together. So I don’t think for our purpose of our play we’ve been thinking about that she’d been married to somebody else previously. I think we perhaps were thinking that if there was a child, it was a child that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth had had together and had died very early on. But yes, so we are saying… I mean, I’m 31, so for me even playing 23 years seems very young, you know, because I’m a 31 year old who isn’t married and doesn’t have children and I feel like a very young person still, so for me to think of myself as being 23, that’s very young again. But I didn’t want to kind of have an age of like 14, 15 in my head, because I thought then perhaps I’d kind of take it too far the other way, being almost childlike and that might come across…

PS:

You can’t imagine a 14 or 15 year old saying the thing she says, doing the thing she does…

LR:

No, although these days now you do hear of those things but, then you get onto a completely different, if you’re going down that way of thinking. I think what we’ve just got to believe, as far as our play is concerned, she’s incredibly… she’s excited, she’s ambitious, she doesn’t think about the future, she lives in the present day. All she thinks about is that they could become King and Queen, and it doesn’t feel like it’s in the future years from now, it feels like it could happen now, 'oh let’s go by that', they don’t think about, she doesn’t think about consequence, she just thinks about the now, the here and now, and that’s what they want and that’s going to make everything brilliant. So I don’t think at that point she’s really going… she’s not thinking ‘and then we can kill the king, we can do this and we can do that’, at this point she’s really just thinking… not thinking about how they’re going to achieve it, just thinking about achieving it.

PS:

It’d be great to be queen.

LR:

Yeah.

PS:

And has the music started to get involved?

LR:

We did have a listen to the bagpipes, we have five bagpipers, if that’s the word, and we listened to them in the space, and it’s very evocative, you know, to hear. You immediately think Scotland when you hear the bagpipes, and obviously they have this real dissonant sound, they can, I’m sure they can sound beautiful, but for the purpose of this it all sounded like they were all playing really dissonant notes that jarred with each other. So as Lucy wants the idea that this is a living hell that it’ll be very apt! It’s not a very jolly sound.

PS:

And does that help the mood?

LR:

I think so, we haven’t actually, that’ll come I’m sure, the end of… I don’t know if the end of this week or something we’ll be having a session with the musicians to see where they fit in or whether that’ll fit in with the tech. We have been playing with an idea, those aside, of in the first banquet scene, when Macbeth and I go in I say “was the hope drunk…” and he’s saying to me ‘I think perhaps we shouldn’t go along with this, I think Duncan’s great, he’s given me loads of respect recently and it would be a wrong idea’, but of course she’s so involved at the time that she says ‘how dare you, how dare you say we can’t do this now, this is all I’ve been thinking of! You’re not a man, what’re you doing?’, so they’re having this conversation in the space in the middle and the banquet of men is still happening in the back and they’re singing this feasting chant, you’ve got Fleance the boy who starts it off and it’s a very beautiful sound, and whilst they’re singing that very quietly and then humming it, we’re doing the scene juxtaposed with that. The foreground, that’s a very filmic idea and it was very helpful because it sounds like it’s almost like having a soundtrack, and it really goes against the action that’s going on at the front, so I think that that should be very effective, because obviously on the Globe space when you don’t have the lighting and you don’t have… you can’t make it a black space and then just focus the light on the thing that you want to be looking at, you have to use other mechanisms in order to get round that, and I think Lucy’s very good at focussing a scene but also being able to have two things sort of happening at once which complement each other.

PS:

How about costume?

LR:

Yes I had another costume fitting last week and it’s… seems to be very simple, very clean lines, long… but a block of colour, plain and long and with some kind of headdresses, I’m not sure obviously this is another thing… I know that, that the scene where Macbeth has just killed Duncan and he’s come out with the daggers and I’m in an off the shoulder dress, very plain and beautiful, and then I go back in with the daggers and say ‘I’ll do it, I’m going to smear them all with blood, smear the grooms with blood to make it look like they’ve killed Duncan, I’m going to leave the daggers there’, and there’s a very short amount of time from when I go out and then I go back on, and I’ve got to come back on looking like I’ve really gone to town on these bodies and I’m covered in blood as well. Now obviously, so it makes it easier for everyone involved I don’t want to get that particular dress bloodied up every show, so they’re making an identical dress covered in blood. But the problem there lies in that’s going to be an incredibly quick change. So this is another thing we will work out. As far as the costumes look, it’s great, they’re very effective, very striking, but very easy to move in, hopefully, and simple, not, no corset, which is always, you know, a great, great thing…

PS:

Probably makes thing easier as far as your breath is concerned!

LR:

Yes, it does! I mean I, I’m used to wearing corsets and every time I’ve worked here I’ve worn a corset, but, there is, and you do get used to it very quickly, but there’s always an adjustment from going from a rehearsal room where you have been in your tracksuit or your rehearsal skirt, to suddenly getting to the first day of tech, having been rolling around on the floor, running about, jumping off things, with lots of breath control, to then being, sort of, pulled into this tiny corset and having to suddenly think ‘oh, but I’ll have to adapt this so I can do that, and I’m not going to be able to roll there because I won’t be able to get up, and so that’s not going to be as fluid, so that always adds extra time onto the rehearsal process because it’s something you haven’t really allowed for, or you always think ‘I know that’s going to happen’, but you can never quite imagine it. Because they make corsets a lot tighter at the beginning, because they give over the course of the month… So I don’t have to worry about that, which will be a real comfort. And also I’ve been told I’m not going to be wearing high-heels, which is another thing as I can’t bear those. So, I’m hoping costume-wise there’s not going to be any kind of restriction.

PS:

A wig? Or your own hair?

LR:

My own hair, but headscarves and different bands and things I think. Yeah, so that’s nice as well, because obviously wigs add lots of weight.

PS:

Another layer of technical difficulty.

LR:

Yeah.

PS:

Does the costume play a part in finding the character, or have you found the character long before you get to the costume?

LR:

Well, I think that it always helps, because I always find you can go so far in the rehearsal room, with relying on the certain props they have, in your rehearsal clothes with no real audience. But you can only go so far. It’s when it all comes together, so the second layer on that would be taking it onto the actual space, seeing, ‘ah, I see, that’s where the pillars are in relation to the stage, that’s where the curtain’s going to be, that’s where I can’t go any further, that’s where I can’t be heard, if I’m there, this standing here would mean that I would be blocked, oh there’s quite a significant drop down between me and the floor, this is where the trapdoor comes, this is how long it’s going to take me to get from here to here’ completely changes actually on that space. And then the costume is another layer on top of that because obviously I could come into rehearsals every day in a sort of ball gown, and rehearse like that, but in order to work things through, and really work things through it’s best to be comfortable and when I’m wearing the clothes of a queen, that in itself is going to make me feel, at the moment the poor director is trying to tell all these men in the show ‘imagine this is Lady Macbeth here, Laura is Lady Macbeth, she is the most drop-dead gorgeous woman you can imagine, think Angelina Jolie,’ and I’m there with no make-up on, with my tracksuit on thinking ‘I know this is difficult to imagine boys, but on the day I will be in a nice dress and I’ll have some make-up on, so it won’t be quite as hard’, so that will make me feel more elegant, and that in itself if you see somebody standing there’s that’s with these costumes on, with the headdresses they immediately look more regal.

PS:

Stand differently.

LR:

Stand differently, of course, yes. And then on top of that then you can only go so far again until the audience come in, so that’s the next stage and hopefully by that point we’ll feel like it’s all come together. But I think for where we are now… I remember every time I’ve worked here I think you get to the fourth week and it’s a panic and it’s a haze and you think ‘oh, there are certain scenes I can’t remember rehearsing now; did we block it? Did we not? How many times have we done that? When does that fit in? Alright, now I can’t remember the words to that scene, you start to panic because you see that opening night is getting closer and closer and you’re always a bit safe in the first, second weeks thinking, ‘oh, loads of time, loads of time’, it’s when you get to the fourth week that you’re thinking ‘that’s gone really quickly!’ So I think we’re at the level of panic we should be just now.

PS:

Thank you ever so much.

LR:

Thank you.

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