Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 1

“I’m working out on what level the ending affects Petruchio…and he realises that he has in fact broken this spirit that he needed to possess.”
As rehearsals begin, Leah discusses how she starts exploring the key scenes for Petruchio, how he works out his tactics to tame the ‘shrew’, and that you can have too much cake.

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Time: 6 minutes 25 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

So, what have you been doing in rehearsals so far?

Leah Whitaker:

So far we’ve been going through the play and blocking it really, just trying to work out the mechanics of it, sometimes in quite a mathematical way, just working out what’s going on, but also just making our first forays into exploring who these people are.   

PB:

So you’ve started looking at movement around the stage, or around the rehearsal room?

LW:

Absolutely, yeah. We have the stage marked out in our rehearsal room, and obviously this is all going to change, everywhere we go, so it’s odd working out a structure that’s of course going to change, because all the plays we go to are so different, but it’s really useful to have a blueprint in our heads.

PB:

Have you started looking at voice work as well?

LW:

Yep. I’ve been working with all the amazing people that The Globe collects, so voice people and text people and movement people. For an actor doing Shakespeare it’s often a very complete experience because you need to use all of your tools, so we’ve been mining all the expertise that The Globe has. 

PB:

Have you done any specific work for the character, looking at the voice of Petruchio?

LW:

I haven’t decided what voice Petruchio has because I don’t want to putting on a voice. Especially because I’m playing a man I don’t want to be putting on something that is other than myself. But Petruchio changes a lot through it so it’s been interesting exploring the different sides of him. And obviously his voice changes in those moments too.   

PB:

I guess the way he speaks, and the language he uses, rather than the voices. . .

LW:

Absolutely, yeah. And because with Shakespeare everything comes from the text, as soon as the words he says change, then that demands a different vocal energy.

PB:

What relationships in the play are important to your character and why?

LW:

Obviously the relationship with Katherine is central to it and really drives the play, and certainly drives it for him. Also the relationship with Gremio is quite important and that’s something we’ve just started to work on. Because I think Petruchio has been through a lot and seen a lot and Gremio has been his Man Friday. And there have probably been some dark times on mad travels abroad when it’s just been the two of them and Gremio has saved the day, so I’m just starting to explore that really.

PB:

What scenes or moments are particularly significant in the interpretation of your character?

LW:

I think every scene is important. Obviously the first big scene with Katherine is incredible because I think he thinks this girl is going to come and she might be a bit shouty but he’ll be able to woo her with his customary charm. And then he’s faced with this creature he’s never experienced the like of before, and I think it’s a real battle between them, and for a lot of it he loses. But then he gains ground at the end and realises the power that he can have over her and starts honing his tactics, if you will. But these are tactics that change through the whole play. So I think one of the really complicated scenes, actually, emotionally for him/for me is the scene when they first come back to his house. Because I’m exploring the idea that the moment that his tactics aren’t formed then, and his plan to tame her, although he knows he needs to dominate her, he hasn’t working out his tactics yet, and this is something that he learns. So that was quite a complicated one, just working out what is a reaction and what is a tactic and what is general bluster.   

PB:

Have you started looking at music as well, have you picked up any instrument lessons?

LW:

There’s lots of music, there’s less music from me, because I’m particularly unmusically skilled – no, that’s a lie, just in comparison to some of the other amazing, amazing musicians we have in the company. I do some great work on a tambourine and I sing, and you may see me with some bells.

PB:

Intriguing! A mystery surprise! What have been the highs and lows of the first few weeks of rehearsals?

LW:

A rehearsal process like this is always a real rollercoaster in terms of . . . obviously there are bits of the play that are fun and enjoyable and upbeat to do. So it’s very different rehearsing those to, for example, the end of the play, which we did for the first time the other day and was a really sobering experience, and we were all actually very upset by it. I, Leah, was very upset by it, and I’m working out how and on what level it affects Petruchio. On what level Katherine’s speech touches him and he realises that he has in fact broken this spirit that he so needed to possess. So obviously they demand different things of you. Also a rehearsal process like this is exhausting, so there are days when we’re ‘woohoo, great!’ and there are day when we’re all trudging through it.  So coffee helps, and cake. Oh, there’s been so much cake, too much cake, too much cake! I’ve never been sure if you could have too much cake, I am sure now you can have too much cake, I’ve reached my cake limit.    

PB:

You mentioned that you’ve been looking at loads of different researchers. Have you learnt anything extra about the play that you’ve recently discovered and you didn’t know before? 

LW:

I personally did some interesting research into hawking and into the training methods of hawks, and how having a hawk and being able to train a hawk was a status symbol for a gentleman. Because of course Petruchio has just taken over his father’s estate and in many ways become a man, so I think that adds a little more fuel to his mission to tame this creature.

PB:

It’s like a challenge he’s set himself.

LW:

It’s absolutely a challenge. He’s a hunter, he’s a fighter, and he smells blood. And as soon as the game is on, that’s that for him. We had an amazing lecture from the research department at The Globe from Dr Farah [Karim-Cooper, Head of Research and Courses], who’s an absolute gold mine of information. And we talked an awful lot about the place of women in society then, and the real, real, genuine present fear about breaking the social order.  So if a woman spoke out that could break the order and literally meant the end of the world.

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