This is Juliet's first blog entry for the 2005 production of The Winter's Tale in which she talks about coming to the Globe, preparing for the role, improvisation and costumes.
Transcript of Podcast
Coming to the Globe
Well, I actually came in to audition for the part of Marina [Pericles]. John [Dove, Master of Play for The Winter's Tale] sat in on the audition, and afterwards I wrote a letter saying how much I’d love to be in The Winter's Tale. He called me back and we had a very informal audition where we chatted about how he was going to do the play; he talked about it being a thriller and I was fascinated by that idea. When I got a call inviting me to play Perdita I was completely over the moon! Since then, we’ve plunged straight into rehearsals – after a read-through on the first day, we’ve been taking the story in chronological sections and exploring the world of the play. I think the first half does feel like a Greek melodrama played out as a thriller, and then the story falls into Bohemia where you find a kind of parallel world, in which people are experiencing similar situations and feelings. It's extraordinary.
I haven’t worked at the Globe before, though I can’t remember how many plays I’ve seen in this building. I can’t describe what it's like to walk out into that space – it's incredible, almost like walking out into another world or a temple (it reminds me of sacred architecture). We had a Voice class with Stewart [Pearce, Master of Voice] earlier in the week and each of us had prepared a few lines to say; I realised that if you speak from a grounded place, you can be heard very easily. Even though the yard is open and the space is huge, it feels very intimate and you don’t have to shout – you can almost whisper and, if you’re using your voice properly, you’ll still be heard.
Before rehearsals started, I prepared in the way I was taught at RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] which basically means that I take everything from the script: I write down everything my character says about myself and everyone else, and from that I build up a picture of how my character thinks about herself and everyone around her. I did quite a lot of Stanislavski work on Perdita, using all the clues in the text to build up a picture of the world she grew up in, what her childhood might have been like, what sort of relationships she has with other people. That work has continued into rehearsals: David [Sturzaker, Florizel] and I sat down together and mapped out the entire relationship between Florizel and Perdita – how did they meet and what happened? The key thing with Stanislavski is that everything comes from the text; Florizel says at the beginning of Act four, scene four:
I bless the time
When my good falcon made her flight across
Thy father's ground.
Those lines provide a clue as to where and how they met. We imagined that it was dusk and I had probably just finished bringing in the sheep when his hunting falcon flew over the ground near the Old Shepherd's cottage. They probably had a little interchange and we think they’ve known each other for about a month by the time of the sheep-shearing. Time-wise, it's a very fleeting romance but they’ve already sworn to each other that they’re going to get married. That work gave us a sense of what's happened by the time we get to the scene [IV.iv]. I’ve had similar talks with quite a few of the other actors who are playing characters that Perdita has relationships with – like my friends Mopsa and Dorcas and my foster father, Old Shepherd. In a way, it's very internal work that helps you find a way into the character. It's also good because the minute you get on stage, the relationships between characters are full of life.
Ways of working
Improvisation can sometimes feel like a scary word – ‘let's just improvise!’ John doesn’t work like that. He’ll say ‘Let's just stand it on its feet’ and we’ll play around with a section of the play for a while. Then he’ll make a suggestion that gives you a new idea; for example, yesterday we did the scene where Perdita is very nervous about being the hostess in the sheep-shearing scene. David [Sturzaker, Florizel] and I came on and stood like robots in the middle of the stage – we didn’t know what to do. John suggested ‘Why don’t you try coming in with big wreaths that you have to hang on the two pillars before everyone else comes in? Florizel is trying to stop you and tell you that it's all going to be ok.’ Suddenly we’re playing two different objectives and we immediately have a situation with its own story. John works very organically and truthfully so it doesn’t feel like we have to do very much at all! Everything is being allowed to breathe at this stage – nothing is ‘set’ as such.
One of the things that struck me about Perdita is that she's born of royal blood but has been brought up by shepherds. How much do I show of each of those aspects? I think the biggest challenge will be to find the fine line between shepherdess and princess, so that she could be both. How much do I disguise myself as a shepherd? Should my accent as Perdita have a slight rural twang? That's something to think about.
Jenny [Tiramani, Master of Clothing] and I have been talking about my costume (although we call it clothing rather than costume, because our outfits are clothes that people would have actually worn). I’ve even had a fitting. As Perdita has grown up in the shepherds’ rural community, I come on in Act four, scene four dressed my shepherd's outfit. It's got lots of bright reds and yellows, and it quite a simple outfit. At the end, when I come back as a princess, I have a huge silver dress which I don’t know how I’ll be able to dance in! The transformation should be spectacular, and really underlines Perdita's shift between the world of the Court and the countryside. It's been amazing watching Luca [Costigliolo, Wardrobe Department] at work: he's doing my costume-fittings and he's had to make a ‘body block’ because he's making my own corsets. I can’t wait to try it all on! All in all, the last week has been a bit of a blur – an incredible blur!
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.