Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsals and Tech

Julius D'Silva (Ross) discusses the technical rehearsal, the preview performances and how he is now playing Ross.

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Time: 11 minutes 32 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Paul Shuter:

So since we last spoke you’ve finished the rehearsal period and you’ve had the week of tech rehearsals. Can you just take us through that week and why that’s important, what you’re trying to get from that?

Julius D’Silva:

The week of the technical rehearsals is really for us to become familiar with the stage we’re working on and for a show like our production of Macbeth, which is reliant on some devices, technical devices, some bowls of fire, swinging bowls of fire and trapdoors and certainly fights, a lot of fights in Macbeth, things like that, it’s for us to engineer out entrances and our exits and for us to become familiar with the stage that we’re fighting on and health and safety checks really to find out where we can get on safely, where we can get off safely without bashing audience on the head with swords. And it’s the staging of it really, it’s the week where everything we’ve done in the rehearsal room gets put into the frame of the set and the building within which we are working in the Globe.

PS:

And does the Globe make it harder, because it’s not a conventional theatre with lighting and, you know, there’s no fly tower or anything like that?

JD:

It makes it different, I think it makes it… this, our production is not a ‘classic’, if you like, Globe show, it’s slightly more adventurous with its set, it’s got these huge rings of circles of hell, and a device which tries to replicate the frozen lake at the bottom of hell if you like, which stretches out over the audience as a sort of a web affair.

PS:

Just to describe this for the people who haven’t seen it, it’s a membrane, it stretches across probably three quarters of the yard and audience member’s heads stick through slits in it.

JD:

That’s right and it’s based on [Gustav] Doré’s frozen lake of hell with the heads sticking out of the ice. So the theatre isn’t designed for modern concepts, and they have to be tacked on in a good way, so that takes some time in the tech, if we’re going to be using devices.

PS:

And you certainly are!

JD:

And we’re using devices, yeah, we’re using devices and it takes a little while for them to get up and running and that’s why we have the tech week. Although there is no, as you know, there’s no lighting plot for the Globe, we use natural light and a little bit of electricity comes to our aid as the sky darkens but that’s it really, as far as light is concerned.

PS:

Do you have any particularly testing technical things?

JD:

Long cloaks, well also the other thing about technical rehearsals is it’s the first time you put your costume on. So if you’ve got a seven foot long cape, like I have, and you’re carrying a sword and there’s blood all over the stage you want to make sure that you know how to operate within the costume, you want to make sure that you know what you’re doing with the sword, so you’re not injuring yourself and others… yes, and I think particularly, the running into battle, the running out of battle, running downstairs into the audience at speed shouting, covered in blood is one of the difficult moments I have, I think, technically, and also the acoustic of the building as well. You have to get used to the sound of your voice in the room and where you can be heard, where you can’t be heard, how much you have to work, and there are different sweet-spots on the stage which your voice will sound great in.

PS:

You’ve found that though, didn’t you? Because you’re very audible.

JD:

Thank you very much! I like the space very much, I really, I think people come to the Globe to have a good time. I think the audiences are there and they’re up for it and they’re not sort of viewing you, they’re not sort of “come on, entertain me”, they’re there expecting a good time and ready and having a good time as they come into the building. And that’s very palpable and tangible to us when we see the audience and I love being able to see everyone’s face. The last thing I did was at Drury Lane where you stare out into a 2,500 seater and you can’t see anybody, just lights.

PS:

No, very different from that isn’t it.

JD:

Yep.

PS:

We’re talking after the third preview and just before the fourth preview, it’s a matinee and preview performance today. Are the previews an important part of the process?

JD:

The first preview is great, was great, because it really boosted everybody’s confidence. We were pushed for time with our techs, we had a lot to get through, a lot of technical stuff to sort out and we felt a little bit unsure. Not just your normal nerves but a little bit apprehensive about, you know, I don’t want to fall down a trapdoor, I don’t want to get hit by a swinging bowl of fire, I don’t want to get clouted with a sword… and we didn’t feel as if we had really enough time to sort all those things out. But the first preview, the response of the audience both in humour and in horror, audible, you know, when they see Cawdor’s tongue being cut out and various other nasty things happening, and the response that they gave us at the end when we come on for the curtain call was just tremendous, you know, such enthusiasm, such warmth, and we all felt really encouraged by that. It broke the ice, really broke the ice, and yeah, yep very important.

PS:

I was in the audience Friday night and it was, it was a very profound moment I think at the end.

JD:

Yeah, tremendous, and I love that there’s a single drone that the bagpipes give as we come on to take the curtain call and it feels great to walk out to that sound and the sound of the appreciative crowd, audience.

PS:

If we move on to thinking about the character a little bit, during the banquet scene is Ross developing doubts, do you think, or do they come between scenes?

JD:

I think he is. I think he is and he’s being a, he’s toeing the party line and he’s being somewhat of a sycophant, I suppose, really, like many people do around power, If you’ve noticed. People laugh at their jokes, people are attentive to them, and I think he’s toeing the party line.

PS:

He’s a bit like the first cheerleader, isn’t he?

JD:

Yeah, I think so, yeah, I think he has doubt and the way we’ve done it is that he comes out straight after the banquet and says that Macbeth’s a tyrant, in private, so definitely yeah, I think he’s starting to.

PS:

Yes, you seemed to give a lingering look as asked to leave. JD: Yes. PS: It was almost a beat, to look at him and then move.

JD:

Yes, a decision, it’s almost a decision. That’s right, yeah, I think it’s, the penny has dropped, really. But he also waits with Lennox, in the script it says “Lord”, but we’ve changed it to Ross when he talks to Lennox. He waits for Lennox to really show his own colours before he shows his own hand, Ross shows his hand. He waits for Lennox to spill his own guts, so to speak, sing like a canary, and then he says, well, let me tell you the wheels that are in motion, things that are afoot, the plans that are afoot.

I did toy with the idea of making him an out and out villain form the start, where he’s completely Macbeth’s man, but in fact we’ve thought about and spoke about maybe letting him allowing the murderers in to kill Lady Macduff, after he’s placated her, but that would make him, there’s not enough evidence to justify that.

PS:

And I’ve seen that done, but you kind of wonder what he’s doing in England, if he’s just done that.

JD:

Yeah, exactly, that’s right.

PS:

Unless he’s a spy.

JD:

That was the possibility, yeah. Or that he just switches to whoever’s holding the best hand.

PS:

Yeah, maybe after the banquet scene Macbeth doesn’t look like a good long-term bet.

JD:

Exactly, yeah, exactly. But I think he’s, the way I’ve chosen to play him, I think he’s a man of honour, he is a worthy, he is the “worthy Thane of Ross”, as he’s described by a couple of people.

PS:

So, your Ross is on his way to England when he goes to see Lady Macduff?

JD:

I think so. Yeah, I think so. And he thinks by not giving her too much information that he will keep her safe. That if she knows too much then that will be her demise, but of course that isn’t enough. But even I don’t suspect what will happen to her.

PS:

No, no. And you’re very familiar with the child…

JD:

Yeah, I think that, that’s right, we’re very much known by the children, I think he’s an uncle figure, a cousin figure. I think he’s had a long relationship with Macduff and Lady Macduff; cousins, refer to each other as cousins. And so he’s an uncle to the children and is familiar and this is what makes it even more shattering when he has to go to England and deliver the news to Macduff. But he has to get the military stuff done first, either he finds it too difficult to say straight away, or he thinks as a statistician, if you like, the more important things is to save the nation, before our private grief. I think that’s where he’s at.

PS:

One last question. What’s been the highpoint so far?

JD:

The highpoint has been hearing my voice on the stage of the Globe. Ringing out a couple of speeches for the first time on the stage, and the warmth of the audience after our first preview. Those are the highpoints, I think.

PS:

And the low point?

JD:

The low point is the tiredness. The low point it the fatigue when you’re teching all day from say, I don’t know, 10 o’clock in the morning and then you finish at 10:30 at night. And then coming back in again and doing another day like that and then another one and then another one with a live audience in at the end of it. That’s the difficult bit, and you have to dig deep and find, but the adrenaline helps when the audience are in and you get a bit nervous, that helps. And also we’ve been a little bit worried about disappearing through trapdoors and things like that, but those problems have all been cleared up now, and so yeah, tiredness, injury through tiredness I think is the biggest worry. But we’ll be fine.

PS:

And you’ve all got a day off tomorrow.

JD:

And we’ve got a day off tomorrow, yeah. I’ve got a driving lesson. So I can’t drink too much before bed tonight.

PS:

Alright, thank you very much!

JD:

Thank you.

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