Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

This is Simon's final blog post. This week he discusses the technical rehearsal, problems with LEDs and the difficulty of making concrete decisions when playing Puck.

Transcript of Podcast

Technical rehearsal

We’ve just finished the final week of rehearsals, and the production opens on Sunday. The technical rehearsal itself was wonderful; it only took a day and a half! This has meant that we’ve had the rest of the week to continue running the play on the stage, which means we’re all now really used to working in the space. As in most technical rehearsals, much of the time was spent making sure the lighting and sound cues are correct, but for this production, there were some slight differences; all of the sound cues are performed by the musicians, and the only electric lights that are used are those sewn into our costumes.

Rehearsals have been slightly difficult recently because I hurt my back and had to have some treatment to allow it to heal.

Costumes

The costumes are now finished, and we’re able to use them for every rehearsal. I’m thrilled with my finished costume; not too hot, not too cold. The lights are amazing; they have to be very bright so that the audience will be able to see them clearly in the daylight, which means they need a lot of power. Inside the costumes, there are wires that link the lights to two battery packs strapped to our waists. We can turn them on and off using a switch on a strap around our wrist, but it’s rather delicate, and there’s a risk that we might accidentally turn our lights on/off if our wrist knocks against someone or something. When I’m on stage as Philostrate, watching the mechanicals’ performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, I usually end up sitting against the pillar downstage left. This morning, as we rehearsed the scene, I suddenly noticed Gary [Lilburn, Egeus/Fairy] looking at me and pointing towards my chest: I’d knocked my wrist on the floor of the stage and my lights were flickering. I’ll have to be careful about that in the future, or it might get a little confusing. Still, I’m really enjoying being able to use my costume in every rehearsal; every time I put it on, I feel more in character than I did in jeans and a t-shirt.

Puck

Most actors, at some point during a rehearsal process, reach a stage when they suddenly doubt the validity of all the work they’ve been doing up till then. This seems to be especially true when it’s a long rehearsal process such as this one; I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible ways to play the character. I’ve tried playing Puck as both young and old, especially in relation to Oberon. Much of Puck’s character is defined by his relationship with Oberon, and I’ve tried playing Puck as both a child and an elder statesman, and all the variations and permutations inbetween these two extremes. The next morning, just before a run of the whole play, I went to chat to Mike [Alfreds, Master of Play] about it. I told him that I wasn’t sure where I was: I didn’t know what or who Puck was, whether he was an animal, a vegetable or a mineral… His reaction was simply; “that’s the point.” During the run, I played each scene in whatever way I wanted, and it felt like the action of the scenes flowed; it felt great.

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.

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