Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 1

This is Dickon's first blog entry for the 2007 production of Othello in which he discusses becoming an actor, Othello and beginning rehearsals at the Globe.

Transcript of Podcast

Becoming an actor

I didn’t always want to be an actor. At first I was attracted to the church, but then I lost that sort of faith. Then I thought about the law. I guess there is an element of performance running through these ideas. Finally, towards the end of my time at school, I decided I wanted to be an actor. I didn’t have an acting background, I’m a theatrical orphan, and my parents were a bit shocked – they wanted me to go to university. That is what I did, acting in university plays and also with the National Youth Theatre. It was the NYT that made me realise what real professional theatre can be. I went on to do a postgraduate course in acting at Cardiff.

Othello

I was interviewed for the part about three weeks before rehearsals began, and I was finally cast about a week before. But I have been in the world of Othello since February, because I have been directing a drama school production with second year students. This meant I didn’t need to do much research about the play before the rehearsals started, but I did think a bit more about Lodovico – about what he might be – looking at the givens within the text. I have been thinking about his relationship with Brabantio, and about his relationships with Gratiano and Desdemona. I have worked with Wilson [Milam, the Director] before. In this production he is going to be in the first half of the play, which he isn’t in the text. Wilson has put me in there, so we have the idea of the Brabantio family with Lodovico as a part of their circle. He is a character of great status, but with not a lot of text, so there is that challenge. It's back to the old saying, there are no small parts only small actors. You have to be able to fulfil the weight of that character.

Acting at Shakespeare's Globe

I haven’t worked at the Globe before. One of the things we did this week was go and look at the stage, and have a run around on the stage. At first it felt quite daunting – there was just this weight of history suddenly there. The theatre was pretty empty. This sense of old London, of Shakespeare, of what we were doing. There was a moment with a little intake of breath. Oh. Here we are. There is no set as such. There is nowhere to hide there. You have to go in there and embrace the space. It was very exiting. That was the thing I took away. I got a great feeling of where the play can go, and the fact that it hasn’t been performed at the Globe since 1604 is just awesome – to be bring it into the twenty-first century – what a privilege and what an excitement.

The first day of rehearsals

The first day is a really nervous time. We started with the ‘meet and greet’ with all the people at the Globe. It is like being back at your first day at school. All the people who work at the Globe know one another, but the rest of us are having nervous conversations with people we are just meeting. After the meet and greet we saw the model box, and then went on to the read through. That can be another very nervous moment, but it wasn’t it was an inspiring one, we have some very strong lead actors.

We have stayed sat at the table for the rest of the first week. Having worked with Wilson before, he is keen to unlock the text in the first couple of weeks. It is almost like a process of osmosis, where you absorb it without having to think about moving arund or where you are going to stand on stage. It is a great way to connect with the pay without feeling the pressure of performance. Not all directors are like this obviously – some directors on day 2 will say, ‘you are coming in stage left, I like you to stand there for that line and then stand over there for that line.’ With Wilson it is very different – and his is very keen on actors’ input. So there is a sense that if you go off and do your homework it may be useful – or it may not of course, but what you suggest will be considered – there aren’t acting choices to be made at this stage.

The highlight of the week has been working with Patsy Rodenburg [Head of Voice at the Royal National Theatre]. I’ve done a lot of work at the Royal Shakespeare Company, I was there for six years, so I’ve worked with Cis Berry, who does the voice work there. Working with Patsy reminds me of how wonderful voice work is. You are dealing with heightened language, and the choices you make are sometime very useful for th actor. Heightened language requites and engagement with the voice and the actual texture of the language, and Patsy has been helping us connect with that. So it is very much about energy, connecting viccerally with the words. Finding our voice not in the throat or the chest, but in the groin, where there is a sense of being really rooted. Always speaking to surprise, to move forward, which I think is a fantastic thing to have in week one – to help you drive it through. Especially in a space like the Globe, where it isn’t light s down and you can hide on the stage. You are exposed. You need to feel secure in the storytelling. That is what patsy has started to connect us with. Wilson will then help us unlock acting choices, and the two should marry together (hopefully) for the first preview.

Acting at Shakespeare's Globe

I haven’t worked at the Globe before. One of the things we did this week was go and look at the stage, and have a run around on the stage. At first it felt quite daunting – there was just this weight of history suddenly there. The theatre was pretty empty. This sense of old London, of Shakespeare, of what we were doing. There was a moment with a little intake of breath. Oh. Here we are. There is no set as such. There is nowhere to hide there. You have to go in there and embrace the space. It was very exiting. That was the thing I took away. I got a great feeling of where the play can go, and the fact that it hasn’t been performed at the Globe since 1604 is just awesome – to be bring it into the twenty-first century – what a privilege and what an excitement.

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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