Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 5

This is Dickon's fifth blog entry for the 2007 production of Othello in which he discusses stage work and costume in the production.

Transcript of Podcast

Stage work

Lodovico didn’t settle quite as much at the end of last week as I would have liked. We have started to work on the stage, and I think that Lodovico will develop in the first two weeks of the previews. Those first few performances will be very important – just playing the space is a great challenge. It is so different to the rehearsal room, obviously. Just finding the storytelling is so different from a conventional theatre – a nice black box, lights, you know where the audience are. At the moment we are just finding the play on the stage. It is very liberating to get out of the rehearsal room. For one thing you had had a roof, and suddenly you have glorious blue sky. Also what is great at the Globe is that, during the tech rehearsal, the tours are coming through all the time, so you get a glimpse of audience reaction. They just sit there for a few minutes watching – it is not off putting, though you would think it would be. It is good that the space itself starts to be peopled, so that you have a bit of an idea what it will be like.

The aim for the tech week is to feel comfortable on the stage. We haven’t got lights or massive technical equipment, so we are the tech and the big thing to concentrate on is that we are telling that story in this space. The first few previews will be clearly embracing the storytelling. In the tech it is just seeing whether moves we had in the rehearsal room work on the stage, or do you suddenly find yourself very static with your back to a large section of the auditorium, which doesn’t work. What we are finding out is that diagonals are very strong, that you mustn’t drift on the stage, it is about being direct and dynamic.

The tech is helping us to enhance our storytelling. You have to be brave, you can’t apologise in that space, it needs energy. It is phenomenally different from a conventional theatre. Only one member of the company has worked on that stage before, but we are surrounded by Giles Block and Glynne Wickham who have been associated with most productions here. They are helping is keep the story alive. I’m also remembering things that Patsy Rodenburg told us, taking ideas from above not below, so that the energy has got a good front footed quality about it. It will be a challenge to see how introspective you can be on that stage, how do we find the moments of silence?

One thing I have just mentioned to Wilson is about changing my final entrance, because I feel we are making it too cosy. It seem to me it should be an explosion of authority for the arrest of Othello. Those epic doors at the back of the stage fly open, and the guards come in ahead of Lodovico. I am the power of the state at that point. It should in no way be one man against the world, it should be the whole of Venice which symbolically arrives to take these two.

Costume

I have lovely black boots which have been made for me, which are very comfortable indeed – they lace up all the way. I’m very happy with those. Then black stockings, and a black patterned doublet and hose, with a small ruff, and a very nice cloak. It gives a very regal feeling, and really helps my posture. I had a haircut today and the beard has been trimmed, so I’m starting to feel like somebody else, which is useful. I do wear modern underwear underneath it all, but the rest of it is completely authentic, clothes have ties to hold them together, as they would have done, and my boots take forever to put on – a good ten minutes. The attention to detail is fantastic.

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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