Shakespeare's Globe

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In this penultimate podcast Keith Dunphy (Macduff) discusses the tech week, adapting to the Globe stage and "fashionable medieval" costumes.

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Time: 6 minutes, 33 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Ryan Nelson:

Hello I’m Ryan Nelson and these are the Globe Education podcasts for Adopt an Actor. I’m here with Keith Dunphy who’s playing Macduff in this year’s production, and today we’re going to talk about tech week, which was a while ago now. But for those who might not know I guess the first question is: what is a tech week?

Keith Dunphy:

Well, a tech week is very stressful for any actor in the land! It’s basically where what you rehearsed in the rehearsal room I suppose comes to life, and comes to what the show is going to be. So, you know, there’s a lot of stress in trying to get the technical side of things right, and the props, and make sure everybody’s standing in the right place and everything is very safe.

And basically with our show, because it’s quite a big production of Macbeth, the tech was heavy for a lot of us. We have two, an inner ring and an outer ring and I have to say that, for people who haven’t seen the show, is basically they’re suspended over our heads, with cloths hanging down and big long chains with balls of fire and stuff like that, and so you can imagine it took quite a long time to get that right, they rotate on a hydraulic sort of wheel thing, and sometimes they can break down.

And other stuff, we have traps as well in our stage floor which open, three of them, which are released from underneath the stage, which can be quite dangerous. We’ve had one or two injuries, our big man Macbeth himself, believe it or not, actually fell down a trap during one of the performances and hurt his ankle four days before press, which was very scary for the whole company. But fortunately he’s absolutely back, fighting fit, and he’s in great form. But there was a moment like that, which was quite scary, but it is Macbeth and these things happen.

We also have a cloth which comes out over the groundlings and they pop their heads up, so they’re kind of like stuck in hell, and that’s suspended, roped and tied off onto sort of the rafters and stuff of the theatre and all that kind of technical stuff eventually came together to make a very (I think anyway, I’m biased!) exciting show.

RN:

It is an exciting show! What’s it like moving from a rehearsal room with four walls and a ceiling onto the Globe stage – wooden, circular, no roof?

KD:

I have my own views on that. I mean: you can rehearse a play in any rehearsal room, any play. But when you go to the theatre it’s the next step, you’re onto the next thing and it’s entirely different. Yes, of course you can rehearse your part and you know what you’re doing and you’re sitting or you’re whatever you’re doing, all your movements and stuff, but there is that extra thing I think when you go to the theatre. I think a lot of actors, you know, in the business they say you step up your game, you step it up, it’s like footballers, the same thing, with the World Cup at the moment, at the big moments you step it up, you go up that extra notch when you hit the space and you gauge, certainly for the Globe I think, you have to gauge your voice, for instance, which is very important. And you can’t really do that in a rehearsal room, you have to hit the space to do that.

That takes a bit of time, some people catch on quicker than others with that, but eventually, I think our company’s actually coping brilliantly I think with that, actually, really opening out, and it does take a couple of performances to get the feel and the level of your voice…

RN:

…Get that level…

KD:

... yeah, yeah, and where you don’t really have to be like you know, bellowing it out, you can actually talk and be heard and you know, in the Globe as well you have to be very courageous sometimes to do that as an actor, just not even try to raise your voice, but people will listen.

RN:

It’s a weirdly acoustic space as well, you can talk and somehow the wood bounces it back…

KD:

Yeah, it is, absolutely and, I don’t know if you know, they’re called the “sweet spots”. Sweet spots, for whoever’s listening now, are where you can, certain places in the Globe where you can stand and your voice can reverberate, as you say, off the wood, and it is fantastic for the voices. You know, as you get an old, old veteran like myself you start to know where those spots are!

RN:

I mean the other thing that you mentioned that I guess comes in tech week – obviously you’ve had costume fittings before, but I guess this is the first time you’re properly in your costume for long periods of time. How important is costume to you as an actor in terms of getting character and location?

KD:

I think, yeah, I mean, some people, you know, actors are terrible, they sort of say things like “a good actor doesn’t need a costume”, and blah-blah-blah-blah. But I think you know, when you get your costume on of course you feel different, and certainly because this is kind of, I suppose, it’s a medieval production, so we have beautiful costumes. But when I say medieval, it’s important I say for people that haven’t seen it: don’t think that it’s like the “olde worlde” medieval, the girl that designed the costumes [designer Katrina Lindsay] is an absolutely really cool and brilliant woman and she’s kind of done, because you’ve seen it, a trendy… there’s kind of a trendy thing in there as well isn’t there, like you know…

RN:

Like fashionable medieval!

KD:

Fashionable medieval! I think we’ve made up a new word there “fashionable medieval”, I like that. So yes, the costumes are great and are lovely, and when I did my fitting I made sure that I had a really lovely cool leather doublet that a lot of my other actor friends are really jealous of. But I told them you’ve got to know, that looks good on you.

RN:

Are you not tempted to take it home with you at the end?

KD:

Well, they won’t let me!

RN:

They won’t let you, it’ll have to go back into storage!

KD:

Back into storage, for some other guy that knows that’s a nice doublet!

RN:

And the other thing I guess we haven’t talked about up to this point is what the jig is like, and whether you enjoy that.

KD:

Yeah, well, the jig is great, I really enjoy it, the jig’s gone down really well, and again our choreographer, Javier de Frutos, is an amazing choreographer, he’s done loads of really high profile, I mean, he did Cabaret in the West End, the musical Cabaret, I mean, he’s like a really “how you doing?”, as they say, choreographer. So when he was asked to do the jig he came up with his own take, so we all, a lot of the actors, we all have great fun, because it’s kind of like half boy-band, Boyzone, and that’s a joke, but you know what I mean, it’s kind of like very swishy…

RN:

Bits of arm movement…

KD:

Yes, arms. So we do feel like we’re a bit like X-Factor as well as like jig, yeah, it’s really cool.

RN:

Brilliant. Well, next time we talk, we’ll hopefully find out about performance.

KD:

Absolutely.

RN:

Thank you very much.

KD:

No problem. Thank you.

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