We are in Queen’s Square in Bristol which is a beautiful park lined with huge trees. The camper van is parked between two big old trees, beyond there are buildings on all sides of the square; sometimes you can hear your voice bouncing back of them.
Transcript of Podcast
My good sweet mouse I commend me heartily to you …
We are in Queen’s Square in Bristol which is a beautiful park lined with huge trees. The camper van is parked between two big old trees, beyond there are buildings on all sides of the square; sometimes you can hear your voice bouncing back of them. So, vocally, it’s not a bad space unless the wind gets up. It is not as good as Glasgow was for acoustics though.
The weather has not been great. Last night was probably the best weather we’ve had so far. The sky was gorgeous. Tonight it’s a bit cloudy and tomorrow the weather forecast is terrible, but we’ll see how it goes. Last night the sky was clear, the wind died down, it was beautiful - the sky is lovely at night time. I looked up at the sky and the stars and it was stirring to have a beautiful image to look at. Romeo adores the stars and the sky, so to look up and not to see grey thunderclouds, but pink and orange clouds, changes how you talk to them; you talk to them in a loving way. And, when I defied the stars and for what they’d done, I was looking at this pretty image and thinking about how, in my eyes, it’s changed completely, not literally, but in my eyes the beautiful thing which I had loved becomes something I hate.
Last night’s audience was great. We’ve been having really great, varied audiences. In Bristol, under 12s get in free, so we had a few really young people last night and they really engaged with the play. The audience is predominantly people in their twenties and thirties. They were a very active audience. There was this awful moment when I ran on for the curtain call and I tripped up over the tree. I tried to make the best recovery possible so I did a complete forward roll and stood up into a jump. It was terrible, really terrible, but the audience laughed and clapped, they were very supportive. It wasn’t a huge audience last night but they were attentive. We had to ask them to move closer to the stage because people tend to sit quite far back, they don’t realise that it’s very hard for the actors to get the words to them if they’re far away.
We’ve sold out the show tomorrow afternoon. I think we’ve got a lot of young people in, a lot of school groups, which is quite good. Last night, I feel, was the best show we’ve had yet. Everyone’s starting to own the play. Last night everyone was really active and alive and listening to each other, and really enjoying it. When I sit in the back of the van during the show I was watching the other people in the van, and the other actors were laughing away at the funny parts – it was a really exciting show yesterday.
I like to use the performance space as much as possible, and I tried to make as much use of the two big trees either side of the van as I possibly could during the balcony scene. They’re a bit like the pillars on the Globe stage, but different. I tried to use them just like I would a tree, and hide behind them. I lean on one when I am talking to Benvolio.
Romeo is changing all the time. Because he is young, there are a lot of quick changes in his character. One minute he’s this lover, daydreamer, angst-y teenager, and then within thirty seconds he switches: his friend has just been killed in front of him, and he turns instantly into this man who has this terrible guilt. I’m trying to develop that change from boy to man, which is difficult, but I think it is coming, especially in the second half.
The play is getting shorter and shorter. I think we had our shortest second half last night which was fifty-six minutes. We’ve tried our best to aim towards the prologue’s: ‘the two hours traffic of our stage’. At the Globe the play was much longer: two and a half hours without an interval. Once you find your feet, you get quicker, entrances and exits speed up, as do cues and lines, but not so that we’re rushing, it’s just snappier because we’re in the rhythm of the play now. Touring lends itself to that. Last night, because we’d had a day away from the play and we were in a new space, we didn’t rehearse together, I spent a couple of hours walking through bits I wanted to change or play around with. Everyone was well rested and our routine was broken so we had to listen attentively to each other.
Having a new space really lends itself to having to re-experience everything for the first time. When you’re looking around each night you are seeing different things, and the space is different. If you’re on stage in a theatre you have to generate that freshness every night, which is a hard job. When you’re on tour you have to renegotiate a space, which lends itself to you being affected by different things every night.
Travelling is tough, coming from Buxton, we had a four and a half hour drive back to London. After we’d done the show we had an hour and a half get-out, lifting the stage and pushing the camper van. We are all helping with that now, but I don’t know how long that is going to go on because it’s very tough and I hurt my back doing it. During the show I’m fighting and the other boys are fighting as well, and getting thrown against the camper van and running, so we’re exhausted, and then to come off and try to strike the set is really tough and tiring, and then we had to do a very long drive back. The actual travelling is good really, because we’re a good bunch and we can all have a laugh. We got the train up to Bristol which was only two and a half hours but it flew by and all eight of us sat together and chatted. It was nice.
Julian and I are staying in a really nice youth hostel here. It’s only ten minutes walk away from the park. Some of the cast are staying in Clifton and a couple of the other boys are staying in a hotel, so we’re all quite spread out. In Buxton we were all in a cottage together which was fantastic. It was a beautiful cottage, which slept all eight of us, and we had our own kitchen so we could just come home and cook dinner and sit all night and play cards.
I’m having a lot of fun, it’s fantastic. I hope people come and see the show.
… And so sweet mouse, farewell, and brook our long journey with patience,