Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 2

Samuel talks in detail about voice, movement and text work he has done for his character. In text, he has discovered that knowing what your character is saying at all times is vital and can "make or break a speech".

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Time: 7 minutes 54 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

So, have you done any specific text or language work for your character yet?

Samuel Barnett:

With Giles [Block, master of text] I have done some really specific text work which was really helpful. There are some bits where I just do not understand what I am saying. There’s still one bit, I don’t know if this is remotely relevant or interesting, but there is one line where Giles says it’s one thing and Tim [Carroll, director] says it’s another. I’m battling over that in the middle going “I don’t know. Both arguments are good.” It’s a silly line but it’s just a line that ends, “And wrangle with my reason that persuades me. To any other trust but that I am mad.” And it’s hitting the “am” instead of the “mad”, that’s Giles’ version and the one I like. And Tim’s saying “no: To any other trust but that I am mad.” And I’m going “yeah, but it’s a feminine ending of the line, it’s got an extra beat on it. You need to hit that beat and not the ending” and all this. We’re having this discussion about it and we still haven’t decided. And I know it sounds ridiculous and small and petty, but actually, things like those can really make or break a speech, I think, especially that line where that comes. His whole argument is pinned on that thing and I’m a bit lost as to which it is. But the beauty of it is, is that I’m not pinned down, I know I can try both. There are other lines like that but it’s really great to do the text work, it’s really great to be so dogmatic about the verse and the iambic pentameter. And then being able to, not forget it, but being able to run it in rehearsal and see what springs out. Sometimes different words spring out and different meanings spring out suddenly, and you think, “Gosh, if I do an inflexion like that or if I hit that word the whole line changes.” So yeah, I think all that is going on all the time in this process.

Hayley:

And what about movement, have you done anything specific for your character in terms of movement?

Samuel:

It sounds odd but I have been in such a habit with Queen Elizabeth, and that kind of movement, that I’m having to shake all that off. One of the hardest things is I suddenly don’t know what to do with my hands and my arms. With Elizabeth’s dress they are forced to sit just above my abdomen, just below my solar plexus really, because that’s where the bum-roll of the dress is and so they rest on there. And also as a woman in that time, of that status, I would have kept my hands there, clasped neatly together. Suddenly I’m a boy, I can do whatever I want with my arms. I suppose I’m a count really, yeah, I suppose I’m a count and so there is the body language that goes with that. Maybe one hand on the hip and the other arm relaxed, or one hand on the sword hilt, or whatever. But I have really been having to shake off Elizabeth. And the other thing is we’ve just come from a couple of hours of jig work which I think is going to look great. It’s very different to the Richard III jig and it’s much less about steps, and Richard III there are quite a few complicated steps in, and this is much more about shapes on the stage and I think it’s going to look gorgeous, it’s really exciting.

Hayley:

I liked the last one, there were lots of nice little kicks.

Samuel:

Yes, and indeed there are some in this, well there are probably many kicks, but we are much more dynamic in the way we move about the stage. We move about in groups of 3’s and 4’s and making patterns and shapes, I’m really enjoying it. I sort of thought of Twelfth Night that it would be more of a raucous jig, like Henry V, that one had a fantastic jig at the end. And this, it’s not what I thought it was going to be, but actually I’m starting to get it. Especially watching Act 5, that we’ve been doing today, being part of it and watching it as well, the different dynamics and shapes that we make as we move on and off stage, and who talks to who, and who involves who, and, kind of, all boundaries get taken away. You know, you’ve got the lower servant talking with the Countess. I think the jig reflects that, I think it’s really nice.

Hayley:

And how do you find dancing, is that something you’re comfortable with?

Samuel:

Yeah, I mean I’ve always danced so I enjoy it, I enjoy it a lot.

Hayley:

And what about voice, have you done anything on the voice for your character?

Samuel:

Do you know again, it’s another thing that I can’t quite place because sometimes I feel like he’s really young and so my voice goes quite boyish and high, and other times I feel like “no, he needs to be more of a man, he needs to be more grounded.” I mean it’s always the way with acting that you think, especially if you go in and out of scenes, if you’re not on all the time for example, you think, “Oh, I feel so different in this scene than I do in that scene” and so the audience is going to think that I’m a different, not a different character, but they are going to think my character isn’t continuous and doesn’t have a through line and isn’t the same in each scene. And you have to think when we are ever the same as human beings, in the morning I will feel very different to how I feel at lunch time, to how I feel in the evening, but people recognise me as the same person, so I am just going to have to trust that. There is a beauty to taking each scene on its own merit at the moment, without stringing it together. So I think, yes, I’m just thinking through this now, that I don’t have to be afraid of where I go vocally. And Queen Elizabeth, you know, sometimes she’s really high and stately and sometimes she’s really down there in her grief. So, yes, I’ll string it together somehow.

Hayley:

It will all come together and you know that it can from having done Richard III.

Samuel:

That’s the beauty, I’m so much more relaxed on this one. I really trust that we’ll get to where we need to get to.

Hayley:

Are there any scenes that are proving difficult to unlock so far?

Samuel:

Well, like in the last act, it’s difficult to know actually how to play when I see Viola dressed as Cesario, looking exactly like me, and it’s difficult to know how the story unfolds. And the text itself gives clues but is very ambiguous. So it could be right at the beginning that I know that is my sister Viola dressed as a boy, or it could be that I think something terribly weird is going on and someone’s pretending to be me and “how dare they pretend to be me!” So I’m still exploring how I discover it’s her, when I discover it’s her, and then what happens, because there is so much going on in the scene that you don’t get the bit where you go “gosh, well Viola, what happened to you then?” And “wow, it’s so amazing to see you, I’m so happy you’re alive!” You don’t get that, so much other stuff tumbles in on top of it, which I think is thrilling for the audience, it’s how to chart your own little journey through that. So there’s that and also there’s the soliloquy that I have as Sebastian, where he comes out and goes “This is the air that is the glorious sun…” And that speech, in which there’s that line “To any other trust but that I am mad”, or “To any other trust but that I am mad.” And there’s such a convoluted, sort of, argument that goes on through that speech which I still haven’t quite got on top of. I know the lines, it’s just thinking through it. And again, I remember there were speeches that Elizabeth had that I thought, “I don’t know how to make my way through this.” And actually, in the end, it was running it and running it and repetition, not repeating the way I was doing it but almost getting used to it in my mouth, the sounds in my mouth connecting with the thoughts in my brain about it and putting that together and that’s where I got to. So I’m not worried yet. There is one particular line, couplet, where I just go – even though I know what it means – and it goes “So comes it, lady, you have been mistook. But nature to her bias drew in that.” And I say it and I kind of know what it means, and I kind of know what it means in the context of the speech, the rest of the speech, but I still find it impossible, really, to convey the full meaning of that. I just, it’s one of those lines where I go “oh God, I’m going to have to say it really quickly or something because I’m never going to be able to convey to an audience what I think it means. Mercifully, I don’t think I have any of those in Richard III, I’ve managed to, kind of, get on top of all of them. But that one, already I think I’m fighting a losing battle, I don’t think I’m ever going to get what that means.

Hayley:

All these listeners now are going to know, “oh we’ll pay particular attention to those two lines he’s tried to quickly say.”

Samuel:

Pay attention to that and see in performance if I’ve managed to get any further with it.

Hayley:

And the “mad” line as well, does he emphasise “mad” or does he emphasise “be”?...

Samuel:

Yes, what has he gone with?

Hayley:

I think you’ll get there, there’s still plenty of time.

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