This is Che's third blog entry for the 2007 production of Othello in which he discusses fight scenes, the jig and losing the scripts, amongst other things.
Transcript of Podcast
We are almost all completely off book, except Othello and Iago who have got special dispensation because they have got so many lines. We are concentrating on the first three acts and we have gone over and over them, and just now, today, we have just run it for the first time and it wasn’t as bad as I thought! I, personally, was a bit slow on my cues but there was lots of really good stuff.
Wilson's great strength is how specific he is and he has really nailed it over the last couple of days. He has really not let us off the hook and he's tightened up the discipline in the rehearsal room. He tends to clear us all out of the room now rather than having us all hanging around. It is such a large cast, and such a long play, that you can end up sitting in the rehearsal room for a long time waiting, and it is very hard to keep yourself sharp. It might seem odd, but it is actually easier to be out here, in the Green Room, and for the actors doing the scene it is better too. I personally feel a little bit exposed in the rehearsal room. If I am still finding my way in a scene and I look round and I see people perhaps reading the paper or having a quiet dose it is disconcerting. I am glad that Wilson's done it.
The first of the two characters I am playing is one of the senates. He is head of one of the fourteen top families in Venice. I have found out, through the big interrogation of Othello at the beginning of the play, and going over it with Giles Block (Text Master), that my guy likes Othello and is trying to help him a little bit with the way that he leads a couple of the questions put to him. The way that we have blocked it is that my senator is trying to placate Brabantio and the Duke, who are really getting a bit hot.
In the second act I am a soldier, a Venetian soldier, who has been stationed in Cypress. He is a lower class person than the senator. Everyone bosses me around and I am a bit of a rough neck. I am trying to be slightly earthier, to have a slightly lower centre for the soldier. The costume will make a huge amount of difference, especially when we get the shoes on. He is rough and lower class and more ready to fight, literally because I have a big sword fight, which I am excited about. I haven’t seen any costumes yet, but we have been measured. I have no idea what we will be wearing. We looked at some pictures of the Senate. We are definitely period dress, around 1570. I have had to grow my beard for the part. The beard is driving me nuts. It's itchy.
The other big thing we have been doing this week is the fight scene with fight director Philip d’Orleans. In the fight scene Iago gets Cassio drunk, and then has Roderigo insult him or attack him. Cassio then stabs Montano, and Othello comes down and fires Cassio from the army. It's good fun to do. The weapons in the scene are broadsword and dagger. There is lots of hacking, as opposed to thrusting. The people involved in the fight are me, Michael Taibi, Nick Barbar (Cassio) – who is an excellent swords man - and Nigel Hastings (Montano) and Sam Crane (Roderigo) who sort of scurries around and we kick him up the bum, he runs off and he gets a little beating from Cassio, which is quite funny.
Hopefully Patsy will be coming back and hear what we are doing. What is already coming up is how to resound and resonate in the space, to be audible but without losing the nice detail that we are now beginning to get. That is the challenge of that space. Sometimes I do feel like I am just yelling the whole thing. I have got to remember that I am talking to a real human being who is only just eight feet away.
The Closing Jig
We have started rehearsing the jig, with Sian. We started yesterday. It is good fun and it is simple. The music is brilliant. It's got a slight reggae feel, sort of ska, blue beat feel but performed with medieval instruments. I think there is going to be quite a lot of music in the show because there is no set or lights, so music has to suggest mood and change of place. We have only just started jig rehearsals. We are intrigued because, it is such a sad play and it is odd, that the stage is littered with dead bodies and then we all get up and do a jig! I am curious to see how that's going to work.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.