Shakespeare's Globe

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“It’s so easy to allow yourself to go down the sense of doom, desperation, and despair, and drama. But she’s the opposite of that. That’s what the Duchess believes in, strives for. She’s light she’s hope, she’s love, she’s everything beautiful.”
In her final interview Gemma talks about the journey of the Duchess over the run and her favourite moment in the play.

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Time: 7 minutes 37 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks: Hello and welcome to the Adopt an Actor podcast series. This is the final interview with Gemma Arterton, who is playing the title role in the Duchess of Malfi.

Cool, brilliant so how was it since – when did Iast talk to you, a few weeks ago?

Gemma Arterton: A couple weeks yeah.

PB: How has it been going since then? Has it been changing, developing…?

GA: Yeah, it’s sort of… its really been quite an interesting run. Because it’s a short run – I’ve never done a run, maybe…yeah it was only a 6 week run, and so you kind of… Because you know your usual week of getting used to the theatre, getting used to the audiences and then a week of letting it go a little bit crazy - which definitely happened, everyone sort of went off the hook a bit, and finding their feet. Because we really are learning about that space, we really are the first people to kind of experience it with audiences. And so we had to kind of let ourselves go a bit but it did kind of go a bit crazy. And then rein it back in. Every single show is so different and I’ve realised that because of the close proximity of the audience often times there’s something – there’s been many events that have been happening during the run to do with the audience that have changed the show. So for example yesterday someone had a freak out, I think they had a panic attack, during one of my speeches at the end of Act 1, one of the really complicated speeches I have.  And there’s nothing you can do, equally in the Globe it’s like that, but as an actor all you can do is keep ploughing through. But because it’s such a small space, it’s been so… the show itself has been kind of solid. But it’s very easily bashed around the audience or by external things so it’s been an interesting process. But it keeps it exciting because everyone’s on their toes all the time!

PB: I guess yeah, I was going to ask you about that. In the Globe obviously as you know there are extra things like birds, audience helicopters. I guess the proximity is something unique to that space. Are there any other things, obviously the candles-

GA: The candles, but that seems to be something that’s become very very easy and reliable. Obviously there’s the odd time when you blow it out or something like that but it doesn’t feel – that’s become something we can rely on actually, the candles. It’s the audiences reactions and I think also because of the height of the space, the depth of it, so we’ve been dealing with that.

PB: Is there anything in particular you’ve found in the journey of the Duchess as you’ve gone on and developed her role? Have you found anything interesting with that as [you’ve] gone over the entire run?

GA: Yeah. And it’s constantly, like I experience something new everyday or I go backwards in myself. But it’s a really really bizarre part because, I think as I’ve continued with her, this sense of – it’s so easy to allow yourself to go down the sense of doom, and desperation, and despair, and drama. But it’s not that, as well. There is that, but it’s, she’s the opposite of that. That’s what she believes in, that’s what she strives for. She’s light, she’s hope, she’s love. She’s everything beautiful. So those two things are kind of are like warring with each other always with me, as an actor. And sometimes they can, like today we had a matinee, I felt like they were at war but in a good – like it was right. But sometimes it’s too much of one or too much of the other. So for me it’s interesting, I think now I’m in a place where I’m finding the really, the contrast of the character very much so. But there are moments when she really hits rock bottom and you know, especially at the beginning of act 2. And I think at first I was kind of afraid to go there and maybe now I am allowing myself to go there. And I’ve sort of worked out that she doesn’t have any pity for her- she refuses to feel pity for herself. But in order to get to that decision she has to get very low. So say ‘No come on, get up, don’t be like that’. Which is why she’s so beautiful. It’s been a really really… like the last two weeks have been really interesting. And it’s just weird in regards to how you play it and how the audiences response, or how your… it does feed into the rest of the play. Like if I can, in Act 1 when I’m doing the marriage scene, if I can make them fall in love with me, or with us – with Antonio and I - and believe in us, then the rest sort of takes care of itself. But if I don’t nail that scene then it feels a little off kilter. It’s  really important that first scene, I think it’s a tricky one as well.

PB: You need them to carry…

GA: Yeah and you need them to believe in our love, they have understand it. And it’s quite a complicated sort of love – well it’s simple but, she’s sort of playing in, she’s being the strong one in the relationship. She sort of wears the trousers, so it’s a different way round the scene.

PB: And my final question is what is your favourite moment in the play?

GA: My favourite moment in the play… that’s really difficult. I think, I hate to say this because it’s what every Duchess says, but it’s when you die. I love that scene. I love the scene where she realises, she defies everybody and says bring it on. But I also love the end of Act 2 now, that final salmon speech because, that was always I think ages ago I said that’s really the hardest scene for me, but the scene that I like because of that. But now I get a real rush when I come off stage if I’ve done that scene, I think delivered it correctly. It’s so empowering that speech, it’s all about that; it’s all about empowering yourself and saying ‘hey you can do anything, no matter what happens. You know, the judgement is not, you will not be judged until the end so be a good person’. I think so that bit and the bit where I’m talking about, you know the revelation of knowing that to die is ok. But there is loads of other stuff, like I like watching the scenes or listening to them. The other day we filmed some of it, well the whole thing, and we had a monitor backstage so we could see it. And I just love watching what everyone else is doing because there are some beautiful performances and some really nuanced performances that have obviously developed since I was in rehearsal watching them. So I love the scene between Julia and the Cardinal because it’s got so many, it’s just so dramatic that scene because there’s two – they’ve got such strong intentions both of them. So yeah.

PB: Great thank you very much.

GA: You’re welcome thank you!

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