Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

Norbert is now trying to work with the iambic pentameter and to find the appropriate stress for each word.

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Norbert is now trying to work with the iambic pentameter and to find the appropriate stress for each word. He likes to walk around while saying his lines so that the rhythm goes through his body. Norbert also works through the text deciding where the comma's should go in a speech; he then tries to find the energy that exists in the lines from comma to comma which helps him to find the emotional sense, or driving thought of each line.

At this time as part of the rehearsal process the whole company went away for a residential week to an old air craft base where they created the appropriate environment for their characters and acted out the scenes that are not in the play. In other words what happens to the characters when they are not on stage. This is helpful because it gives the cast a common memory, which they can draw on in later rehearsals. A list of these improvisations is attached, the most interesting thing for Norbert was the fact that he could act out scenes that were not in the play in ‘real’ time.

Norbert may now sing a Kiddish (a Jewish song of mourning) before the beginning of the third act, as Jessica's marriage to a Christian means that she has died for Shylock.

At this time Norbert is also considering the moment of Shylock's conversion, in many ways this is the hardest moment of the play. After research, which included discussing this issue with the Jewish family he visited, Norbert decided that Shylock converts in name only – he continues to practice his Jewish faith privately. In his lecture Imagining Jews in Shakespeare's England James Shapiro describes several instances of ‘false’ conversions in Shakespeare's time. Shylock's final exit leaves many questions unanswered; in many ways his story is not completed. At this stage Norbert does not wish to make any firm decisions about how he might deal with this final moment; he wants to really explore the situation and the spirit of the scene.

At the moment the company are working with what Norbert would describe as an approach based on Stanislavsky's methods. He would normally work in a manner which was more physical in nature.

Norbert has insisted that he retains his harsh or difficult lines, e.g. "I hate him for he is a Christian". When Laurence Olivier played Shylock this line was cut. For Norbert it is very important for Shylock to have two sides – first he wants to receive love and when he does not get this he begins to hate. Norbert wants the audience to see this conflict in Shylock's character.

For Norbert there is no flesh on the part of Shylock, it is bones only – in other words he feels that there is not one word too many in the text. Normally Norbert would cut a lot of lines but much of what Shylock says moves the play forward – every line is a key line.

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.

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