Shakespeare's Globe

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Colin talks about the final phase of rehearsal: tech week. He talks about the staging, the music, his costume, and the little drum he has become so attached to.

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Time: 7 minutes 43 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

So we’re now going to talk about this week, ‘tech week’. So what happens during ‘tech week’?

Colin Hurley:

Well now normally tech week is loads and loads and loads of waiting. You come in on the first day, you all put your costumes on and everyone’s ready to start at ten o’ clock. And then at two o’ clock in the afternoon you actually start because, you know, the set isn’t there or it’s not built or something can’t be done yet. And then you do things about five hundred times and you change them four hundred and ninety-nine times and you just go through very, very slowly, very slowly. The only time it speeds up is if you think, “Oh I’ll be alright for a few minutes here” and decide to go and have a cup of coffee. Guarantee you then, suddenly, ten pages gone just like that. “Mr Hurley to the stage. Mr Hurley to the stage. Immediately!” You know, it’s how that always happens. But here, with the mighty John Dove, the dove from above, he’s just rocketing through it. Yesterday, we knew we were going to start at midday, costumes on, start at midday. We only had till 1.30 and then the afternoon, three hours, so one and a half sessions, no time at all. We did half the play, half the play! There isn’t much technical stuff in terms of fights, obviously no lighting changes...

HB:

...That’s the time taker I suppose…

CH:

It can be, it can be. And it can also be the time when actors feel like the play has been taken away from them. You know, you’ve worked and worked and worked and then suddenly you’ve got to stand over there because of the lighting, or you can’t take three paces in that direction because you should be out of the light. The lighting guys are wonderful and they do wonderful work, but it’s lovely not to have to worry about that. A lot of the tech at the Globe can be about entrances and exits, timing them, because we have the magic doors, paged by stage management or by whoever is nearest. And he’s taken the doors off the side entrances so you can time your own entrance. That makes life - You don’t have to signal someone, or make sure someone’s there, then signal them and go on. Again that hands it back to you. The centre entrance is just a curtain, which again is easier than paging two doors. So there’s something, it’s much easier, more fluid. The music cues - Bill Lyons our composer and orchestra leader or whatever his title is, head of nice sounds. Bill and John [Dove, Director] have worked together very closely many times and done a lot of work on this already, so it’s only a matter of tweaking: “Oh, can we have two more bars or can we have two less bars? Can we have a little twinkle in here?” Because we’ve got the Easter period before we come back to it, I think John has been very rigorous about not repeating anything unnecessarily. And my scenes, I’ve done three scenes, and two of them I only did once which has never happened to me before in a tech, you just do it once and then you’re onto the next bit. So its fantastic because it means we might get Saturday off which is great.

HB:

And what’s your costume like? And do you think it makes a difference to your performance wearing it?

CH:

I knew roughly what I was going to be wearing about three weeks ago. I had a fitting two weeks ago, had a fitting and went, “Ah yeah, that’s nice!” Lovely kind of felt or suede material.

HB:

It looked great I think.

CH:

Oh, you saw it?

HB:

I saw you yesterday.

CH:

And rather than go, you know, the whole motley thing, or people think of as motley, you just got - What is it? Dark blue on one side and – I’m patting my tummy for those of you who are listening - Dark blue on one side and a kind of red colour on the other side. And it’s going to be broken down, it’s very new looking at the moment, and it’s going to be broken down so it looks like I’ve been wearing it for fifty years. There’s a lovely detail that I want people to be able to see because it’s such a clever design, but they’ve given me odd socks, they gave me a red sock and a blue sock that I can wear, you know, to make up the kind of a cross pattern there, but at the moment my bridges and my boots cover it. I’ve been wearing boots for a couple of weeks and I’ve been carrying a drum around with me. Oh my drum, that’s something …

HB:

...I saw that in the rehearsal picture, the little drum.

CH:

Yeah, I thought I was going to be using that drum all the time. That’s an idea I had to let go. I thought, “Oh yeah, everytime I crack a gag, bang bang, yeah, bum bum, got my own percussion, great.” And then in practice, in terms of the flow of the scenes, it just gets in the way. I mean I got maybe one, possibly two, places where I can bang my drum, but I’m so attached to wearing it now that I don’t want to let it go.

HB:

Yeah, it helps you get into character I suppose.

CH:

No, I think it just gives me something to do with my hands...

HB:

...Oh right then, as simple as that...

CH:

...Hold my drum. Yeah, we had a thing yesterday where I got a couple of hats and John’s brilliant, he just said, “You know what? Maybe don’t have the hat.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “It’s just, the hat makes him softer.” And I kind of have a tendency to kind of veer towards the kind of cute and cuddly a bit anyway, I think, and so I really understood what he was saying. “Just toughen him up a bit” and I’ll try and feed that into the scenes as well. The joy of not having to think you’ve got to do some funny business to make Shakespeare’s unfunny jokes hilarious is very releasing, you know, it means that you can just try and hurt someone with your words, or try to push someone away with your words which makes you tougher. Makes it more real as well.

HB:

Yeah, well, so no hat then?

CH:

No hat. But I’ve got a drum.

HB:

So, you’ve spoken a little bit about the musicians , does that have any impact on your character, the music?

CH:

Yeah, love it. Not so much for me, but for Helena, it’s great, she’s got her own little sort of Glockenspiely “ding ding bing bing bing” thing. And again John’s been very good because he had plotted it in lots of little moments like whenever there’s a ring, “ping ping ping”, and he’s gone, “no no no, it’s too much” and taken them away. Really spare, brilliant like that John, very very spare and he’s always saying, “What are we trying to do with it?” Rather than, “Oh, isn’t it lovely.” “What are we trying to do with it?” And if you can’t answer that with satisfaction then it goes. I just like having it around, I love having the band around, they’re great lads, great. There’s a point later on where I talk about being a wooden fellow and stuff that, at one point, we thought might go a little bit weird. I’m not sure it will now though because in real life, you know, you don’t simply turn into a realistic shaking kind of witch doctor I think. But Bill’s got a bit of music, that we’ll listen to in the tech, and see if it does help it go that way. If not it’ll go. Bill’s got a great ear for that, I mean he writes lovely stuff, and he’s worked in this space for years and years and knows what can be done, so he’s a great asset.

HB:

And so, just finally, how is it seeing the play in its entirety?

CH:

Great. Learning all the time. Learning lots and I love seeing my mates doing good work. Love making sense of the order of the scenes, going, “Oh, I see, that’s quite emotional there” and then, “This is quite light”. Getting an idea of possibly some of the audience’s journey, what we’re doing to them, put kind of massaging their shoulders and then give them a little slap across the cheeks, wake them up, give them a little tickle, and then put back in their place or asking them to come and play, just seeing what their journey might be. We won’t know for sure until we start doing the play because then the audience arrive and they tell you what the play is, as I’ve said before, but at least we’re getting a bit more clued up about it. Well, I am.

HB:

Well, I will find out on the 27th [May].

CH:

I think that’s the first time we do it in front of lots of people.

HB:

It is. Including me and I look forward to it. I can’t wait. Yes, I will meet with you again to see how it’s all going, to see if you are getting any laughs. I think you will, even if you’re not intending it.

CH:

Okay, if you don’t laugh, I will.

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