Shakespeare's Globe

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“Certainly Petruchio’s relationship to Kate, and his relationship to himself, I think changes throughout the play an awful lot. You see lots of very different Petruchios.”
In her last interview Leah talks about the opening night at the Globe, her favourite moment in the play, and how the play and her character develops as performances continue.

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Time: 5 minutes 25 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

So, how was opening night at The Globe?

Leah Whitaker:

Wow, I can’t even tell you. It’s just such an amazing, amazing experience. People say at The Globe that opening night audiences are particularly raucous because lots of amazing, amazing Globe regulars are there and obviously people who work at the theatre. But it’s just the best space in the world to play as an actor. There are so many people and yet it’s so intimate. And I’m grinning now, which is obviously me just remembering how much fun it was. It’s great.

PB:

Were the audiences reacting in the ways you expected?

LW:

Definitely much more vocal than in other places that we’ve been. I think just simply because they’re right there, they’re right in your face, at your feet, so you can play with them so much more that there’s just brilliant things. I think I’ve said it before, brilliant things about perspective in the Globe.  You know, you can literally speak to someone thirty centimetres in front of you or you can speak to someone who’s at the top of the back row and you’ve got that whole range to play with. For an actor, that’s really exciting.

PB:       

How have you found it’s developed as you’ve started performances, or has it developed do you think?

LW:

Oh yeah, massively. I think certainly with any role like this Petruchio has a huge journey through the play and you can work all of the bits in rehearsal, and you can do as much work on all the little bits as you want, but there’s a huge step that happens as a performer when you start playing it as a whole story. And it’s only in playing it as a whole story, and in playing it as a story before an audience that you actually learn what it really is. So the first couple of weeks, or two, three weeks of any performance you will always be watching an actor doing slightly different things and, sort of, just learning how to put all the bits together.

PB:

Have you found your character has developed as well?

LW:

Definitely, of course. My character has definitely developed. But also it’s the relationships that I think…And certainly Petruchio’s relationship to Kate and his relationship to himself, I think, changes throughout the play an awful lot. You’ve seen lots of very different Petruchios: he’s very different when he rocks up, he’s very different around the wedding, he’s very different when he goes back to his own house and then he’s very different when his plan, sort of, comes together. And then he’s very different at the end, so it’s, my job is really to linking that up and finding the glue between the blocks.

PB:

How have you found the distractions from performing outside? Seeing the audience, birds, planes?

LW:

What’s brilliant about that is that the audience sees exactly the same thing, and because we have so much direct communication with the audience, I don’t have to hide the fact that I’ve seen a pigeon and it’s distracted me and it might have made me laugh because this pigeon has just landed on the stage when I’m trying to do something deeply serious. And so you’re all part of that shared experience. So we had a brilliant moment on one of our shows in Portsmouth where we were doing the show outside and it was very windy, which has its own challenges and there’s a moment at the beginning of the play where I open two bottles of beer and the bottles of beer always fizz up in a bag and they always, sort of, slightly froth. And Hortensia has a line saying “What happy gale blows you from Padua” or something like that. Hortensia asks “what happy gale blows” Petruchio to him and just as he said that line, this huge gust of wind came and basically sprayed beer froth all over Nicola, and my response to that line is “Such wind as scatters young men through the world”. So it’s those sort of magic moments that you get outside where there’s an acknowledgement between you and the audience that you’re all in the same boat so, you know, if I’m being blown by wind and I’m talking about wind, then you know it’s funny.

PB:

So my final question is: what is your favourite moment in the play?

LW:

Interesting! Strangely, I think my favourite moment, as an actor, is the end, because I think we are playing the end as it is right and proper to play the end in terms of our story. That sounds quite vague, but we don’t play this as a happy ending, and that I think, I hope that we’ve struck the balance right with that, and the tragedy of the play is, in a sense, that you laugh along with it, and you sort of think Petruchio is a bit of a dude, you admire his coat and you laugh at his jokes, and then it sort of slaps you in the face that he’s broken this woman. And so, oddly, although it’s an unhappy ending, I think I appreciate what we’re trying to do with that. I also love the jig. I love the jig ‘cause it’s just ridiculous amounts of fun. I can’t play an instrument, so I finally get to show off and dance.

PB:

Great, thank you very much.

LW:

Pleasure.

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