Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Shakespeare's Globe, London

Today, for the show at the Globe, the weather was overcast; it is an English summer so it’s not very warm. It hasn’t rained, thank God. It was pretty perfect actually.

Transcript of Podcast

My good sweet mouse I commend me heartily to you …

Today, for the show at the Globe, the weather was overcast; it is an English summer so it’s not very warm. It hasn’t rained, thank God. It was pretty perfect actually. It was not so hot that the groundlings were dropping like flies. I have been here as a member of the audience and seen that happen.

I was nervous, but I have seen shows at the Globe before and seen how enthusiastic the audience are and how positive they are. So I had that hope buoying me up, that they weren’t going to be a quiet audience, watching and being suspicious, that we had their support. Indeed as soon as we came on stage, you could feel it, it is tangible. But, you have to be very strict with yourself, not to be sucked in by their energy, just play with energy and truthfulness.

The Globe is an interesting space. It is a difficult space because it is not the sort of space that we are used to as modern British actors. We’ve had three sessions on the stage, for about two or three hours each time and what I have learned through those sessions is that the Globe stage requires a very dynamic extended form of movement. The pillars create quite an obstacle which you have to be able to negotiate. You have to take your movement beyond and out and there is an interesting sort of loop shape that is very useful to use, when that doesn’t work the scene can fall flat on its face. So today the space was interesting sometimes I could find it, it was working and sometimes it wasn’t. But the rules of the space are what you need to learn.

The Globe is different to where we have rehearsed. We have been rehearsing in car parks and open air spaces that are not defined spaces, they are not theatrical spaces but in the Globe the stage is covered but you can see the sky.The play talks about stars and clouds and the moon and the sun and they are right there, which makes the language, the imagery of the poetry explicit and present. Doing the show in the open air is challenging on a technical level in that vocally you have to adjust to aeroplanes and things like that but it is also wonderful because you are not locked away in a room. It is interesting and difficult.

There is a certain level that scenes need to be played at; small things don’t tend to work. The level and the intimacy of the auditorium is interesting, the audience feel so close, they are witnessing the action and you can see their eyes and you can see when they are not looking at you and when they are looking at you. It makes me feel that you absolutely need to be honest with your performance. If you bluff or if you fake then they are close enough to be able to sense that. So the Globe is an honest space, an honest but heightened space.

The Globe audience is unique; they want the play to good. They are not there to judge. They’ve come for an experience and so they are a vigorous audience, they are a present audience, they are a visible audience, and they are an intimate audience. They surround you and the danger is that you get sucked in by them. They want to laugh and they want to have a good time and sometimes that aspiration of theirs can actually encourage you to cheapen things or to change things in a way which would give them that laugh or give them that pleasure but actually you need to stick to you guns. They are seductive.

The audience made me worry, because you can see them move. You can see someone shifting because they are standing and they are uncomfortable, or somebody leaving because they need to go to the bathroom. Every little thing you sense and you think: ‘Oh dear, it’s not working.’ It is such a challenging space.

The reaction to my performance was sometimes what I expected but sometimes not. Sometimes I felt: ‘Oh they are whooping because I am a man in a skirt’, but then that settled down. I was so nervous and trying so hard to concentrate that mostly I didn’t know what they were thinking. Sometimes when I am on stage I think ‘Oh god, I am boring them, I need to get on with this’, but actually I just need to focus.

What you don’t get in the Globe, or what we didn’t get today, which may be because of our performance, is that we didn’t get such a hushed still intention amongst the audience as I hoped we would in dramatic scenes, but that maybe because I couldn’t hear it, or I couldn’t feel it; or perhaps there’s a certain restless energy at the Globe. I don’t know.

As a result of performing today, I feel I know now what I need to spend some more time working on. There are some things that need clarification and attention, and that has come into focus for me.

I am looking forward to travelling; we set out on Tuesday morning. It is unimaginable I have no idea what the spaces are going to be like, what the auditoriums are going to be like, or what the audiences are going to be like. It is improvised. Already I know things in my own performance that I am going to need to work on. I am excited but I can’t imagine it.

… And so sweet mouse, farewell, and brook our long journey with patience,

Eliot Shrimpton

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