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"Tech Week at the Globe is far easier than Tech Week at any other theatre I've been at." In the middle of his dress rehearsal and in full costume, Sam discusses teching for Twelfth Night and how he is feeling pre-performance.

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Time: 10 minutes 24 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

We’re now into tech week.

Samuel Barnett:

Yes.

Hayley:

So, what happens in tech week then? Talk us through what you’ve been doing.

Samuel:

Well, tech week at the Globe is far easier than tech week at any other theatre I’ve been at, because tech week at any other theatre involves plotting lights for the show which, of course, we don’t have to do for the Globe, which is marvellous. Really our tech week consists of getting our entrances and exits right, getting the music right, getting the timing of all that right, the costumes - especially with it being OP [Original Practices], I don’t think there is any such thing as a quick change with Original Practices’ costumes, there are too many pins and ties. You can see I am totally trussed up, unable to breath or move in this costume right now. So, our tech week is really, actually, quite easy. We got through our entire tech in two days; so Tuesday and Wednesday we got through it and then Thursday we worked on little bits we needed to do, little scenes, and here we are on Friday. We haven't even done any tech or rehearsal this morning, we have just come in to do a run; a dress rehearsal. And I believe on the schedule we weren't supposed to do a dress rehearsal until Saturday afternoon, before our first preview, so it’s so easy at the Globe, I love it. I hate tech, most actors hate tech week. It’s where everything falls apart once you’ve come out of the rehearsal room, and you’ve got all this work that you think is really beautiful and detailed and fine, and then they put you in costume which feels alien, and you get on the stage and realise all that intimate and quiet stuff has to be made really loud so that the audience can hear. And it all falls apart for a bit, and then hopefully first preview it comes back together, I hope so anyway.

Hayley:

Well this is fantastic news that it’s going so well, I’m so glad.

Samuel:

It is. It has been even smoother than the Richard III tech; I think that took longer. I mean, what I’ve heard of Tim Carroll [director] is that, especially working at the Globe, is that he likes to go through the tech twice if he can. So he will get it all done in two days and then if you’ve got another two days then go back to the beginning and start all again. And I think we did that on Richard III but for some reason, maybe because we are more practised on the stage, we haven’t had to do that, which I love.

Hayley:

Yes, my next question was: how is the transition from the rehearsal room to the stage?

Samuel:

It’s weird for me, because I literally now have one scene in the first half of the play and the rest of my stuff is in the second half. We have run the play a couple of times in the rehearsal room but I can’t get a feel for the timing of it. So it really is a journey of discovery for me putting it on the stage. I think, well, I’ll be able to tell a lot from this afternoon’s run. I mean, the fact that I’m sitting here doing this interview, after I’ve come off from my first scene in the first half, thinking to myself, “I’m not going to be on, I think, for another 45 minutes.” It’s all a bit of a guess but hopefully the timings right and I’m not missing any entrances right now. I don’t think the work I’ve done in the rehearsal room has particularly fallen apart during tech week because I’m not on a lot. And I actually think the bigger the part you have, the more you feel like it falls apart. With mine, where I’m stitching so many scenes together – I think I’ve only got five scenes or something – it just feels like maybe I’ll get it together in previews and then it will fall apart when we open; it might go that way round.

Hayley:

So in that case, do you think you’ve overcome some of those hurdles we were talking about with the language and things like that, from rehearsal?

Samuel:

Yes I do. Somehow again, probably by osmosis working with Tim Carroll, the language seems to have sorted itself out which is great. It’s an easier text than Richard III for one thing because there’s less verse. And I think the verse that is there I’m finding a lot easier because of the work we did on Richard III. I mean I feel scared in that having a bigger part in Richard III meant that I felt like I had more to hold on to. Little bitty scenes feel like there is nothing to hold on to. So I’m not confident, or over confident , I’m sort of scared in that I don’t really know how my part pans out in the show.  I think for my part in particular, because I am a double of Viola -basically I am a double Johnny Flynn, we’re wearing exactly the same costume, the detail is so identical – I think it’s all going to depend on how the audience react to me coming on. They know, because everyone knows Twelfth Night, they know there are twins involved, but I think costume-wise, and wig-wise, and hat-wise and everything, we look so similar that I think I am going to gauge a lot about what’s going on with my performance from them. And I think until I get that, more so than any other play that I’ve done, I don’t think I am going to know quite what I am doing.

Hayley:

Great, well now we have to move onto your costume because I can see it and it’s pretty impressive.

Samuel:

It is impressive. It’s an extraordinary costume.

Hayley:

Can you briefly talk us through what you are wearing then?

Samuel:

I’ve got the undershirt on that they wear because they didn’t really wear underwear, or if they did I don’t know that a lot of people wore it. So it’s like a nappy, it’s got a long piece at the back of the shirt and a shorter piece at the front of the shirt and you tuck round the front of the shirt underneath and pull round the back of the shirt through your legs to the front; so you’re essentially wearing like a nappy – though I have got Calvin Klein’s under that. And then on top of that we have this extraordinary cream, silk, hand embroidered, taffeta-type-doublet, with more buttons than I’ve counted so far. And a sword-belt, and a cloak, and then these hoes, these short trousers, which are made of deer-skin and velvet and have an odd opening at the front. I know the listeners can’t see this but there is an odd opening at the front which I really think should be closed, but apparently that’s how they had it.

Hayley:

Is that for easy toilet going?

Samuel:

Easy toilet, who knows. And then I have these long silk stockings which are tied with a garter and then decorative ribbon over the top of the short trousers. And these very special shoes, not quite sure what to say about those, with bows. So the look, obviously, is young and it’s meant to be very beautiful costume for both Viola and Sebastian. And it’s identical when Viola plays Cesario, she/he dresses as Sebastian dresses, so you can’t tell them apart. I have a long black silk wig on, made of very thin strands of silk, and a large hat which I’m not wearing at the moment because it’s heavy and uncomfortable; I think the effect is quite good though. I mean Johnny and I, we have very similar dimensions actually, but facially we are very different. We’ve got similar make-up though: white face, slightly red cheeks, blackened eyebrows, natural coloured lipstick.

Hayley:

Have you got eyelashes on as well?

Samuel:

No, they are mine, they’re just mine. I just have long eyelashes.

Hayley:

No

Samuel:

Yes, they’re just mine. No mascara, not allowed mascara. So, that’s the costume. It’s definitely easier, in terms of it’s not a corset, so it’s easier for me than Richard III. It’s no less easy to breathe, it’s so cinched in at my natural waist, not even where we would normally wear trousers now-a-days, which is kind of around our hips, it’s in my natural waist, completely cinched in; it’s not that comfortable. Then there’s the sword belt, the money pouch, the dagger and the sword, which just make it slightly cumbersome.

Hayley:

There’s just a lot going on isn’t there?

Samuel:

There is a lot going on and there are a lot of bows. And the look is androgynous, I mean, it’s got to be to suit both Viola and Sebastian. So, can’t breathe.

Hayley:

And what about the set then? I know there’s probably not too much of it.

Samuel:

No, but what I love, and what I didn’t know about Twelfth Night, because I didn’t know what twelfth night meant, is obviously it’s the twelfth night of Christmas. So, the music, I mean, there’s a lot of what sounds to me – I know Claire Van Kampen would kill me – I don’t know what a lot of the instruments are, but there’s a lot of what sounds like Christmas brass bands. And the stage is bedecked, like around the pillars and around the doorways, in ivy and holly and pine tree branches, so it smells of Christmas when you walk on there. In terms of set, what gets used is a beautiful long table, two beautiful carved benches, which are the same design as the benches at Hatfield House. So, the set is, again, really minimal but there is a bit more set than Richard III. There are two corner benches on the corners of the stage which you can sit on. There is a box tree, obviously, because there is the famous box tree scene where Malvolio is reading his letter which is planted for him and they’re hiding in the box tree; so that’s fun. But it’s a very bare stage again. But the costumes do it, I think the costumes and the music create the set and make up for the fact that there is no lighting really. The costumes are bold and the make-up is bold because it was lit by candlelight. This is another thing that I didn’t know, this is why so often in Shakespeare scripts they say who is walking onto the stage: “Oh, here comes Olivia” or “In good time here comes the lieutenant”. You go, “Why are you telling us? We can see who it is coming on”. But of course it was all lit by candlelight back then so they did announce you so the audience would know who is coming on. There’s that line in Richard III: “Oh look, the King gnaws his lip” – maybe I’ve talked about this – but I just find it fascinating the idea that you really did have to hear a play rather than see one because, if you were sat far back, there wasn’t enough candlelight. You couldn’t necessarily see all the detail so I think the work we’ve done on voice, and the music, and there’s some singing, and costumes, create the set.

Hayley:

So you’ve said a little bit, but how are you finding working with the music then? 

Samuel:

I just love the music. There’s only one bit where an entrance is underscored and that’s my entrance for a speech that I have. It’s interesting because I’m working slightly against the music, the music is quite romantic and soft and beautiful and I’m coming on and trying to work out a problem, and actually the juxtaposition really works, I feel supported by it rather than it fighting against what I’m doing; or me fighting against what it’s doing. I think the music is beautiful, there’s a song at the top of Act 2 where the idea is just to get the audience settled in again and create an atmosphere. Because the mood of the play is really affected by the music, or vice versa; the mood and the music comes out of where we think the play should be. So it’s that rather than lighting, for example, which creates the atmosphere and lets the audience know where they are.

Hayley:

Great, that’s my last question until performance.

Samuel:

Oh my goodness.

Hayley:

Thanks you very much.

Samuel:

Thanks you.

 

 

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