Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 2

“It’s always a bit strange because you rehearse the jig to a different piece of music than you end up doing the jig to, because that piece of music is still being written.”
As rehearsals continue, Fergal discusses seeing the play in its entirety for the first time, the music within the production and how his characters have developed.

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Time: 9 minutes 1 second

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

So what have you been doing in rehearsals since we last spoke?

Fergal McElherron:

We’ve been doing more fine tuning, again, we’ve been running more scenes in together, finding out what the scene is before you and basically your cues and transitions. Because when you’re rehearsing – especially with this play, actually, because things are so separate – you feel sometimes that you’re rehearsing in a bit of vacuum. So if you’re doing the mechanicals stuff you never see the lovers stuff at all, but there’s a lovers scene before the mechanicals scene. So, in the last wee while now we’ve been seeing what we’re coming on the back of. So you get the tail-end of the lovers scene before you, and we start to get our cues in. Which is great because you get to see the energy and atmosphere that you’re walking in to, and then you know where to take that. And likewise, the section after you, they get to see what you’ve left behind – the pieces they have to pick up! 

PB:

How have your initial impressions of your characters changed? Or have they been confirmed since you started the rehearsals?

FM:

I think they always change a little bit, in a good way because you discover more through rehearsals. And also just working with the rest of the cast, working with the other characters. Because when you think of your character, before you start rehearsals you think of your character very much in isolation, and then you get into the rehearsal room and you start to see what other people are doing. And just like life you adapt to your surroundings and your character reacts to what they’re being given. So things change a lot in that regard. As a result I think my Quince has become slightly more enthusiastic in the early stages. Because I always figured he’s very excited to be doing this play, but as we started doing the scenes, the stakes got higher, so suddenly Quince became even more: this is an amazing thing, oh my god, this really has to work. And what Pearce is doing with Bottom – the way Quince has to react off that ups the ante again. So yeah things have changed, but in a really good way, it’s very exciting.

PB:

How are the jig rehearsals going?

FM:

Cool! The jig is such an amazing thing. The very first thing I ever saw in The Globe was a production of King Lear years ago, and I’d never seen anything in here. And when they started jigging at the end, I was like: oh my god! What is this? It was the most exciting thing ever. And so I’ve always enjoyed the jig because it’s something that you don’t get anywhere else in any other plays I’ve done, any other theatres. And Sian our choreographer is just so good and really excited and exciting, and loves coming up with stuff, and her jigs are always really cool. And you start off and you’re just going – oh my god, there’s no way I can make this work. And it’s always a bit strange, because you always rehearse the jig to a different piece of music than you end up doing the jig to, because that piece of music is still being written. So what they’ll do is they’ll get a piece of music that has the same bars, the same rhythm, the same counts, so your timing is the same. But the weird thing is, by the time we get into tech next week, in our head’s we’re singing the wrong song – do you know what I mean? So there’s always a little shift from that then, when you go: oh my god! Because I’m not great at counting the steps, I’ll do it on a phrase in the music, so I always have to get the old song out of my head and find that equivalent phrase in the new song. But it’s great as well because it’s the time when the entire cast get together. And when you’re doing the rehearsals and things are all sectioned off the only time we really do all get together is for these big a dance calls. And it’s so much fun because everyone’s at varying degrees of capability. Some people are great at it, they’re class, and others are floundering. . .

PB:

Arms flailing?

FM:

Yeah! I’m usually a bit floundering. And then it all just comes together. But the great thing about the jig is that the spirit of the jig is fun, it never feels like a dance routine that you have to get absolutely spot on. And Sian is very much like: do your interpretation of it, get the steps right and get the timing right, but put your stamp on it. And this jig is really good craic because there’s clogging and all sorts in it.           

PB:

So music is quite important to this production?

FM:

Yeah, very much so. And I think music is very important to all stuff that is done at The Globe, but in this production there is a lot of music. I mean, there is the lullaby, which is in the script, where the fairies sing Titania to sleep, so we’ve got that actual lullaby. But also entrances and exits, there’s music under all that, and the fairies are doing a lot of close harmony singing, and we’re doing this thing called kvetching which is this kind of droning, and it sounds amazing. It’s all from the back of the back of the throat, and it comes from people calling from mountains over to each other and it really cuts through, it’s such an unusual sound, but it’s really really powerful. So there’s lots of music, which is great because at the minute all those other elements are really coming into play. So the week we’re ending now and going into tech week next week, it’s very exciting, because we get to hear the band for the first time as well next week, which is an element that has been totally missing for us up to now. So when we get to hear that music that just adds another layer, and you go: oh brilliant! That silence isn’t just a silence where I feel awkward, it’s actually going to be filled by something beautiful. So it’s cool.

PB:

Have you started doing specific rehearsals for The Globe stage itself?   

FM:

In the rehearsal room we have the stage marked out and they have two big mock pillars, so we get a sense of the stage itself. But next week when we’re on the stage itself things will start changing again because you suddenly have to start to open things out a lot more and start playing the enormity of the venue. You can’t really prepare for that in a rehearsal room, you can only prepare so far. Even the very nature of in a rehearsal room that you’ve got the director at one end of the room – so he can’t be in the round, as such, whereas The Globe is. So little tweaks will happen then when Dominic [Dromgoole, Director] will start walking around the yard a lot during the tech and going: okay, we need to open that here because if I was sitting here I’m getting none of that. So things change in that respect. But I think in the rehearsal room you kind of aim for the sense of the play and what the story is and telling the story clearly in the best way possible, whilst being aware of where you’re going to do it. But The Globe sorts that stuff out really quick – it’s a beast of its own nature, so it’s terrific.

PB:

Have you started looking at your costume yet?

FM:

I’ve had a couple of costume fittings. The Peter Quince costume is very cool. Normally the stuff I’ve done here before I’m playing the Fool, Costard, and Peter in Romeo & Juliet, so my costumes are usually quite shapeless and baggy, but Peter Quince’s costume is a little bit more fitted, so I’m chuffed about that. I’ve got a very nice felt hat. And the fairy costume, I’ve got this amazing mask - stunning masks they’ve made for these.  Because what we’re doing is – the fairies, they’re not animals, but they’ve all got masks representing various animals, and mine is a goat. So the mask isn’t supposed to be us being an animal, it is the fairy wearing a mask, but the masks are so beautifully made. So we’ve had them on, but we’re going to have body paint as well as the fairies. But we’ve done none of that yet – that’s all going to be next week.     

PB:

What have you enjoyed most about the rehearsal period so far?

FM:

I really enjoyed the run yesterday because it always feels like it comes at a time when you kind of need to see the play you’re in. So that’s always really really exciting. It’s really good fun. And that curiosity of seeing the other scenes – I mean, we’d be welcome to go into any of the other sessions, but you tend not to. And then there’s suddenly the reveal of those other scenes. So yesterday we got to see a play, and those scenes are so huge, all the lovers stuff is so big and it’s so good, to see that was a massive thrill. And to come in on the back of that, then you’re energised. So yesterday was a big highlight as well. The whole thing has been a really great experience, it’s just been so much fun. Because the cast are just lovely and we’re all having great craic. Doing a scene call and then going straight into a music call and learning this beautiful music that Clare [van Kampen, composer] has written, and then from that going in for a quick costume fitting. There’s loads of exciting stuff happening. And then you’ll have a session with Giles on speech, and suddenly you’re getting into the technical stuff and the technique, which is always a thrill. And then you bring that back onto the floor.  So there’s loads of highlights, there’s always lots of highlights, which is great.   

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