"A mini symphony of attack and humour." Simon describes Pertruchio's first meeting with Kate and further dicusses his key scenes and key relationships in the play.
Time: 5 minutes 18 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Can you just talk us through generally what you’ve been working on the last three weeks. What’s the process of rehearsals and things?
Simon Paisley Day:
Well, the first day is always a sort of meet and greet and then a read through. We did that here and then we went up to the Union Chapel and had week one, two and three up there. The first few days was just table talk; sitting round a table just talking through each scene, working out what’s going on, any textual amendments. There was a big two hour/three hour discussion about the induction: whether we would do it, how we would do it and all of that. Then we started at the beginning, and started sort of putting it on its feet, giving it a general shape. Then, this week, it’s books down and we’re going back through the play, doing each scene but off-book and with Toby [director] really deciding what he wants, you know. There have been a lot of ideas for each scene and a lot of different ways tried out but I think that he’s trying to nail it into place now.
Have you done any specific rehearsals for the Globe stage?
You know, whatever rehearsal room you’re in, it’ll be marked out according to the stage you’re in and we’ve got the pillars faked up and dimensions of the Globe stage there. The rehearsal room we’ve had in the Union Chapel has been quite big and lofty, so it’s not a sort of tiny walled in space, it’s quite a big room. I mean, I think I am one of the only people in the cast who’s done a play at the Globe before-I did Timon three years ago, I think. So I suppose I know that when it comes to it, you can’t keep it quiet, you can’t keep it filmic, you know, you’ve got to share it with a thousand people, sometimes with your back to the front, you’ve got to keep moving round, got to keep talking loudly as you go behind the pillars. It’s total theatre in that sense. Your body’s got to be a big, resonating instrument. So, I have been aware of that, but really I guess the challenge at the moment is to find the psychology of the scenes, to find your psychological way through each scene and then when we get into the space, start sharing it.
So, which relationships in the play are important to your character and why?
Kate. No, that’s not entirely it. Before I meet Kate, Grumio is my servant who I sort of knock about. He’s like…you know I don’t spend the night with him and I hit him and I shout at him and I joke with him and he takes the mick out of me and I grudgingly laugh at his terrible jokes and, you know, they are sort of like an old husband and wife team. And, interestingly, as soon as I get Kate, as soon as I sort Kate out, Grumio disappears from the play. Shakespeare sort of has him retreat and disappear, like the fool in Lear. So it is almost like he is my other half until Kate replaces him. And I talk about Hortensio being my best, beloved and approved friend, perhaps who I’ve come to see in Padua and he’s hosting me. But we don’t have much together. We have a sort of “how are you mate?” and an embrace. Oh, he comes to my house in Verona and he calls it the ‘Taming School’. He wants to come and sort of see how I do it so that he can tame his widow that he’s going to get married to. So, in answer to your question, really it’s Kate but with a little bit of Grumio. You know, that first time they [Kate and Petruchio] meet is everything; it’s sex, violence, cleverness, funniness, sexual attractiveness, feeling in love, finishing each other’s lines for each other. It’s just like a little mini symphony of attack and humour. I think the only way-in my mind- that you can care about what they go through and about the fact that he’s so brutal with her to achieve a woman who is tamed, who has had wildness knocked out of her, is if you think he really adores her and that she really adores him. So, we’re going for that, that our eyes lock and we go “Oh you’re the most wonderful per…I am in love! Now we’ve got to sort out these funny little character things, so we’d be happy together.”
So, is there any scene that you’re finding particularly significant in the interpretation of your character at the moment?
Well, I am finding a couple of scenes difficult and I said to Sam [Kate] the other day that I sort of know where I am going, with Petruchio, once I meet her. The scenes leading up to that- arriving in Padua, seeing Hortensio, meeting the other suitors and Gremio, meeting Baptista- I’m slightly….I sort of don’t know who Petruchio is yet. That’s that thing I’m saying about him being sort of shiftless. He doesn’t quite know…well, maybe that’s me, I am quite shiftless, I don’t quite know where I am going with Petruchio. Maybe Simon and Petruchio are a bit shiftless, we’re not quite there yet. He seems to care about money and yet he doesn’t seem to care about money. Later in the play he says “to me she is married, not unto my clothes”, you know, it doesn’t really matter what someone looks like, “for it is the mind that enriches the body?”, or something he says, instead of money or clothes or what we look like. I mean, maybe that’s his journey; that he starts the play as someone who has money, wants to make more money, has never known love, he’s done some womanising but he meets someone who’s genuinely funny and clever and gorgeous and he thinks: “This is what this is about. Not just money.”