Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 1

In this interview Arthur talks about how much fun he is now having in rehearsals working with puppets and music. He also reveals the frustration he is causing his fellow actors, playing a character that no one but Faustus can see.

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Time: 6 minutes 17 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

So I want to ask, to begin with, what have you been doing in the last few weeks since I spoke to you last?

Arthur Darvill:

Ok, well we’ve stopped kind of reading things round the table and got it on its feet a bit. It’s been quite a brilliant process but there’s so much in the show that – you know, there’s so much extra stuff like magic and dragons and fire and stuff. And what’s brilliant is that we’ve been doing all of it at once, and not concentrating on the scenes, but just putting everything together, which at times can be slightly daunting but actually everything is informative and everything contributes to telling the story, so it’s been a bit of a mental process but brilliant.

HB:

I’ve seen some of the rehearsal pictures and there are balls and trumpet-type-things...

AD:

...There are balls and trumpets and things, yeah, that’s just scratching the surface of it. The dragons arrived on Saturday, so we’ve been looking at those going, “What are we going to do with these?”

HB:

You said that your mum worked with puppets...

AD:

...Yeah...

HB:

...Do you think that helped you?

AD:

Yeah it’s really helped me get into the role of the dragon. Yeah, it’s been really good actually and we did a puppet workshop last week where we made our own puppets out of newspaper and just worked out how to operate them.

HB:

Is that the idea, that you guys will be operating them?

AD:

Yeah, absolutely. Everything’s created by us; a lot of the music, a lot of the puppetry and visual stuff is all created by the actors on stage.

HB:

Wow, so loads of different skills to learn...

AD:

...Well actually for me it’s not too bad because I’ve only got the one role throughout the show but there’s – I think there is something like 120 costumes for 16 actors, because everyone’s playing lots of different parts and everyone’s just running around trying to get stilts on, trying to put themselves out. Yes, it’s going to be a bit mad for a lot of people.

HB:

But I’m sure you will make it look seamless.

AD:

We will make it look absolutely seamless.

HB:

And so have you done much work on the stage yet?

AD:

No we haven’t. I’ve only been on the stage once just to have a sneaky look. I think I need to get on there soon just to have another look. We’ve been in the rehearsal room just kind of getting through it.

HB:

I guess your tech week is going to be so important.

AD:

Yes, absolutely. Well I mean it’s so bizarre because most shows don’t have a week of tech, in other theatres – I don’t know, at first we were like, “well hang on, there’s no lights or anything so surly for tech you don’t need a week.” But actually there is so much stuff to do that actually even a week doesn’t feel like long enough. Yes, it’s going to be quite a mental week putting it all together...

HB:

...And I think it’s because you’re working round the other shows as well...

AD:

Yeah, yeah...

HB:

...So you don’t get as full a day as you would in other theatres.

AD:

Yeah, completely. So we just do daytime tech.

HB:

Yes, so I just want to talk a bit more in depth about the play now, in terms of what relationships are important to your character? I mean the obvious one...

AD:

...Yes, with Faustus. And we are still kind of finding our way through it. I mean it’s been really and – I mean Paul’s [Hilton, Doctor Faustus] just so brilliant and so thoughtful about the whole thing which really helps. But it’s how much Mephistopheles is actually becoming his friend and becoming a partner in this relationship that they have, or whether the whole way through it’s just trying to get his soul and just trying to trick him into doing things to make sure he stays damned. And we are still kind of answering those at the moment, but it’s really interesting to play with the level of sincerity within that relationship. But it’s kind of interesting because none of the other characters on stage can see Mephistopheles, it’s only Faustus that can see him, so it’s only that relationship within the play. And then Mephistopheles’ relationship with anyone in a holy position, anyone who is an agent of good or of God, has an effect on him.

HB:

Have you been doing any exercises then, in terms of no one being able to see you?

AD:

Not exercises necessarily, but I do just try and pull people’s attention towards me during rehearsals when they are not supposed to be looking at me. It’s quite funny, the other day someone did turn round and go, “it’s so hard not to look at you when you’re just prancing around like that.” Well, you know, you can’t see me.

HB:

So in a way it’s easy for you, it’s everyone else who struggles...

AD:

...Yes and it’s brilliant because there’s all this magic and stuff going on and I can just wave my hands and then all this amazing stuff happens; so I just have to hope it’s there otherwise I will just be waving my hands round like an idiot...

HB:

Yeah, that’s really exciting. And also, in terms of the play, is there any particular scene or moment that you think is significant to the interpretation of your character?

AD:

It’s quite cool the way the character is set up and the way he’s summoned. And then the first two scenes with Faustus, when Faustus tells him that he wants to make a deal, and then, I think more importantly, when Mephistopheles makes him sit down and actually write a deed to say that his soul is given to Lucifer, there’s a lot in that about – Faustus questions Mephistopheles about what his deal is, where he’s from and why he’s damned, and there’s a lot about where he’s come from and the fact that he was once in heaven but conspired against God and is now damned forever, but tasted the joys of heaven. So he’s not just this evil character for the sake of being evil, there’s a lot actually going on with him, but at this point he’s doing his job trying to get this one man’s soul. I think we’ve kind of established now that Faustus’ soul is actually – because of how intelligent he is and because of who he is, it’s quite an important soul to get, because he’s someone that could have gone the other way, that could have gone to a point of being very valiant and religious, but through his curiosity and through his quest for pleasure he’s gone the other way.

HB:

That beginning moment, that is very interesting, and then I guess it affects your character – something to think about for the rest of the play...

AD:

Yeah, completely. And at the moment I’m quite liking the idea that he doesn’t like Faustus at all, he just wants his soul. All of it is just a trick and he’s outsmarting him throughout the whole play. It’s quite interesting as the play goes on, as Faustus gets more into it, Mephistopheles leads him even less. There’s a lot in the second half where Mephistopheles doesn’t really say anything, he just does what he’s told, until there is a moment where Faustus starts repenting again and then he comes down on him like a ton of bricks.

HB:

Yeah, I think that’s a nice way to play it, fun for you anyway!

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