Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 2

“Who are we in this world, in this company? What is the story that we are all collectively trying to tell?”
As rehearsals are about to advance into tech week, Michelle discusses piecing the parts of the play together, similarities with Queen Elizabeth and exploring around the relationships of her characters.

Audio placeholder

Time: 7 minutes 43 seconds

Download (7.1MB, mp3 format)
To download, right click on the link and select 'Save link as'.

Transcript of Podcast

Phil Brooks:

So if you could talk us through what you’ve been doing in rehearsals since we last spoke?

Michelle Terry:

So, finessing things really. Lots of stuff on the transitions between scenes. Because the scenes themselves have a life and a tone, but how we get into those scenes, how we move through them because the play is so episodic. The worlds are so vastly different. And Shakespeare’s brilliantly - from the mechanicals in the second scene into the fairy world – he’s put this Puck and Fairy conversation to help that transition. Just working on tonally, how can we use either music or physicality to help shift those worlds. That’s what we’ve been spending some time on.

PB:

Have your initial impressions of your characters changed or have they been confirmed since you started the rehearsal process?

MT:

I think both. I think there have been moments where I’ve been surprised by things. Certainly, I think we talked a lot about Hippolyta last time and trying to find who she is. There’s so many characters in this piece who seem to be drawing on Queen Elizabeth- Theseus is talked about as being Queen Elizabeth, Titania is talked about as Queen Elizabeth. Hippolyta in that final scene, she’s the only woman that speaks in Act 5, so who is she in Act 5 why is she speaking, is there something of Queen Elizabeth in her. Just doing a bit of research into how Queen Elizabeth used to love the plays within plays and often would get up and take part in them, and how much she loved to dance and all this stuff. So trying to piece Hippolyta together has been and will continue to be quite an interesting journey I think. And costumes will definitely help that. But who is Amazonian figure that becomes very much part of this Athenian world? So I had no impression of Hippolyta initially, and so my impressions have just been growing. And with Titania its been remembering what my first instincts were and first impressions, because of course you get into the room and you invent and you play. Only in the last couple of days when you started to run things together do you realise what your part in the story is. And so sowing those bits together and stitching the story interesting, and certainly with Titania having done the run yesterday, realising that there are bits that weren’t working – you know the Bottom Titania scenes. Just by the very nature of Pearce hasn’t had the Bottom mask, you’ve only had that for the last week and a half. That changes the nature of things. And trying to get back to what that initial stuff about the relationship was. So that’s taken me back to my initial instincts having- not necessarily gone away from them but  explored around them for a little while, and now going back to what is pure and what is clear about this relationship.

PB:

How have you found now working as a full company together in the same room?

MT:

Oh it’s brilliant. A play doesn’t exist – well I know – interestingly you reassure yourself by saying that these actors would not have had time to rehearse these plays. So we have an incredible luxury having five and a half weeks. And they would not have known what was before them or after them; they would have just known their cue. So there is great merit in working on your bits in isolation. Equally there is as much merit in going ‘Right, who are we in this world, in this company? What is the story that we are all collectively trying to tell?’ So its been brilliant to see the work that everyone else has been doing. And the quality of the work people are doing just means that you all want to up your game and raise the bar. When you can see what something could be- and we’ve got a week before the first audience come- so we’ve got a run tomorrow, certainly tech week when we’ve got the costumes all of it will change. But just in this moment going what is it, and where could it go? It’s incredibly exciting but it also feels very far away because you suddenly see what you need to do to achieve and realise what is possible in this production.

PB:

Have you started having your costumes fitted now? Have you had a look at them?

MT:

Oh I’ve been having fittings from the start. So yeah they’re still a work in progress, so I had a Titania fitting last week. The Titania one will be incredibly different to anything that I think I’ve seen Titania dressed in. But it will still be in the vein of sensual, animalistic, fairy. It’s the Hippolyta one that will inform so much for me- she’s in this very Persian, Amazonian free costume in the beginning, and then this very bound Elizabethan dress when you next see her in Act 4. So I’m looking forward to knowing what that’s going to do to your body. You can imagine it, and you can put on a practice corset and a practice skirt, but there’s something about the actual thing that will undoubtedly inform it, yeah.

PB:

Do you find that it helps you get into your character more?

MT:

I sort of resist the costume being the character. I don’t really work like that, so it’s hopefully who this human being is…

PB:

They just happen to be wearing what they are wearing…

MT:

Yeah and of course there’s no doubt that with Hippolyta that this will inform this woman who could hunt, and now in this costume can’t hunt. But knowing that that’s what I want to happen I can imagine that, so it doesn’t become a person about a costume, about their costume. There are other sides to them as well that have been explored. And they may end up all just being about a dress and just be about wearing a squirrel skirt which is what I’m wearing for Titania, but at least I’ve had some time to think about who this human being is behind it.

PB:

How are the jig rehearsals going?

MT:

The jig rehearsals are… Yeah I’m not in the jig. We’re doing something slightly different in this production so I won’t ruin it for people who are going to see it. But I don’t really feature…

PB:

A surprise to come!

MT:

Yeah!

PB:

How important do you think music is – you mentioned the lullaby last time you were rehearsing- how important is music to the production?

MT:

I think it’s incredibly important, it’s mentioned- the music of the hounds, the music all the way through there are references to [it]. The fairies talk about sound, music and I think with this production – maybe not more than any other – but certainly with this production it is something that Shakespeare has specifically asked for in the text, so it’s not an imposition, and it’s not an addition to aid or impede, it’s something that he has specifically textually asked for. I think even to him it is as important as it could be.

PB:

Finally what have you enjoyed most about the rehearsal period so far?

MT:

I’ve enjoyed being in incredibly safe hands with this play. Having done All’s Well That Ends Well, and Love’s Labour’s Lost, which are incredible pieces but there are difficult moments, things that you sort of have to act your way through. It’s a real joy – certainly with the Titania Oberon stuff, trust that you actually have to get out of the play’s way because Shakespeare knew exactly what he was doing with that stuff. So that’s incredibly terrifying because there’s a precedence set of 500 years of these amazingly beautiful mythical characters that you hope you’re not going to come in and mess up. But equally it is a privilege to say some of these words, so I just remember them all!

Back to top

ADD YOUR THOUGHTS TO THE CONVERSation

We welcome your opinions. This is a public forum. Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our Forum Rules.