"Tim doesn't direct us in the way that I've ever been directed before." Samuel talks about rehearsals so far with the director Tim Carroll. This week they have been working on the final scene and the challenge of having all the characters on stage at the same time.
Time: 8 minutes 5 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
So, what have you been doing in rehearsals so far then?
So far, mostly this week, we’ve looked a lot at the final act of Twelfth Night, the one where every single character is on stage, and it’s a complete nightmare, I think. It’s a complete nightmare for a director except that Tim works by, sort of, putting pieces of a puzzle together. You do these exercises and you think, “I’m not really sure how that helps.” Like, today we did this exercise where, if we wanted to move at all on stage, we had to say “I want to be here” as we moved, and unless we said that we couldn’t move. It’s so funny how that really focused 14 people on a stage, because you had to really, really think about where you were going and why you wanted to go there, if you wanted to move at all. So it got rid of all extraneous movement and suddenly the whole piece, the whole of that act anyway, kind of, came to focus again which was great because we had run it doing other exercises where it just felt like “oh, we are just a mass of people and where’s the story and whose driving the story at which point?” So just a little exercise like that suddenly focused everything. And the relationships are becoming clearer, as well. I mean, Tim doesn’t direct us in the way that I have ever been directed before, so there isn’t that, kind of, “Ok, what did your character eat for breakfast this morning? And, how old are they?” There isn’t really that stuff, you can do that stuff if you want, but the relationship, especially mine with Viola, is becoming a lot clearer to me. And also this week, my relationship with Antonio as well.
What are your character’s key relationships and why then?
I suppose, particularly with Antonio actually, it’s such an interesting choice, I think, to play it just as is written: that Sebastian and Antonio – first of all Sebastian has saved Antonio’s life; Sebastian’s drowning, he probably got quite ill being in the water for all that time; they’ve spent 3 months together solidly with Sebastian staying at Antonio’s house, basically, and Antonio has nursed him back to health and looked after him. And all this time Sebastian has basically kept his identity from him. So I was, sort of, asking the questions to myself really. John Paul, who plays Antonio, we were having a conversation just about why have I lied to him and why do I feel I need to keep my identity from him? I actually tell him my name is Rodrigo, so I even lie about my name. And, of course, it turns out that I am the heir to a huge estate and Antonio could be a pirate for all I know. So that really basic thing of protecting yourself, but then I think we become incredibly good friends. And I know in some productions that Antonio has been played gay basically, that he’s in love with Sebastian, but I think it’s much more of an interesting choice to just play it as is written, that his father’s already dead and he thinks he’s lost his twin sister, and he hasn’t even been able to tell Antonio about it because he’s in so much grief and he’s having to lie about who he is for a while. So he has to keep everything to himself for 3 months and he becomes totally dependent, I think, on Antonio and that’s what their relationship is about. And because Antonio, he does say things like, “Oh I love thee so much that I’ll follow you to Count Orsino’s court, where it turns out Antonio is in trouble there, so to go is a huge risk. But I understand those friendships where you adore someone and you would do anything for them, but it’s not a sexual love at all; there’s nothing sinister in it, as has been in some productions that I’ve seen. Yes, so I think it’s a much clearer and deeper and more touching relationship.
And so have you done any specific rehearsals for performing on the Globe stage yet? Or is that something that is always in your mind?
It was difficult because in Richard III, of course, it couldn’t be in my mind because I had never done it, and we didn’t do any rehearsals for performing on the stage itself. I was starting to get worried towards the end of those rehearsals because I thought, a, when are we going to stage it? And, b, if we don’t stage it now, how is it going to be when I actually get out onto the stage? And, I suppose, the thing is, as with Richard III, all we’ve done with Twelfth Night is go “Ok, what we will fix is that you’re going to come on from this entrance and you’re going to exit here.” And that’s all we fixed and the rest is up for grabs. And I have to say it’s so much easier, having done one play now at the Globe, to stage it in my mind myself. Not stage it but to know what works, to know that you can really use the very outer corners, both the downstage and upstage corners of the space; that you can really use the space around the pillars, all around the pillars, the downstage ones and the upstage ones again; and really long diagonals work on the Globe stage and when you feel like it’s a scene where your instinct would be to get really close to someone, actually if you fight against that instinct and can stay as drawn out as much as you possibly can, it works much better for sight lines and for people getting inside the relationship that you are trying to convey by trying to get close, actually, ironically, paradoxically - whatever the word is – it’s better to stay further apart. So things like that I have really kept in my mind. I suppose with this final act, where everyone is on stage, I’ve had to, to an extent, do set pieces whereby, yes I will come on from this entrance here, but if Viola, who is dressed as Cesario at that point, is anywhere in my eye line then the games up straight away. So we’ve had to, kind of, say “wherever I go you stay out of the way.” So, things like that we’ve staged, but apart from that no, it’s that magical, mystery thing that Tim does, whereby somehow, by the exercises that we do, it stages itself. And it will be interesting going into the West End because it will change, even though we’ve got an audience still on 3 sides as far as I know, it will change. It’s so odd to think that we’re doing all this just for really 2 weeks at the Globe, but, yes, tech and those 2 weeks at the Globe will probably really help with what we do when we go into the West End.
So is there any scene in the play that is particularly significant in the interpretation of your character, do you think?
Do you know what, it’s really interesting because Sebastian really only has 1 scene in the first half of the play, and then he has much more in the second. But really I have done the work in the first half of the play and the end of the play; at this stage in rehearsals I’m yet to do the meat of the middle. I’m at that stage – I hate saying this – I don’t really know who he is yet. I mean, I think I’ll get clues the more we rehearse, but the qualities, I suppose, that I do think he has are integrity, honesty, honour, and he’s very open, and playful, and has a really bright energy. He’s not a, sort of, depressive character; he’s not a troubled character. And he has a lot of responsibility to bear with his father being dead and being in charge of the estate, and he’s lost his sister. I think he is an outwardly upward, positive person that life throws things at, and I think he bounces back fairly quickly. I’ve yet to discover if there’s a, sort of, hook in there that I’m going to pin my character on, as such, I haven’t found it yet.
Oh, well that might be something to ask later on then.
Absolutely, because the stage I’m at at the moment is what I remember from Richard III, of going “I know my lines now, I’m doing these exercises. Yes they’re useful but I don’t know what my character is”, and that’s, sort of, where I’m at. And again, I think it was in the middle of the tech, we went back into the rehearsal room for Richard III and did a run there, and it was in that run that I found what I was looking for with Elizabeth. So it can come at any time and with this process I think the language is the most important thing, and I think the character stuff comes from that and also really comes back from the audience. So it’s so about getting it into previews.