Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 1

This is Paul's second bulletin, about his early rehearsals.

Transcript of Podcast

First day of rehearsals

Today was an amazing day, a beautiful day to be part of. We didn’t do a read-through, because some of the actors were not able to be here. So it was wonderful, lots of getting to know you stuff, with no pressure. I’m really enjoying it because the read-through is usually quite stressful. It’s the worst day of the rehearsal period - easily. You just feel judged, and you feel everyone is looking at you. They are not, of course, everyone is looking at themselves, but that is the silliness of it all, and the arrogance of actors I guess. I’ve not worked with any of the members of this company before, but I know a lot of them through various other people. I’ve done a little bit of work with Matthew [Dunster, director] before, which is good. We had a session to meet and greet all the people at the Globe, then Matthew and Ana [Fleischle, designer] talked about the set and the costumes. We’ve been fighting all afternoon - something I’ve never done. For some reason I missed the opportunity of stage fighting at drama school, which is odd because I love this sort of thing. We have a guy in called Kev [Kevin McCurdy, fight director] who has been teaching us to use the swords. Obviously he knows the stuff inside and out and he is a wonderful teacher, he fills you with confidence that you’ll get there. As I’ve never held a sword until today, it has been good experience. We are all uninjured after a day’s fighting as well, which is a good thing. Especially for me – I’m prone to injury.

First week of rehearsals

We had the dreaded read-through on Tuesday but it was fine. We did the reading in a circle, and for the majority of it I was bent over my script with my eyes down, only making eye-contact with the people I was talking to. Matthew picked me out and said it was wrong for me to do that, he said I needed to interact more with my fellow actors. So we were all making eye-contact and people could see how the verse was affecting me, not like when they could just see the top of my head. It is difficult to do when you have to read as well, but I do appreciate what he said. It has proved very useful now to be more open, as we have read various scenes in the later rehearsals this week. So it was a good note. Most of the time the whole company have been together, though sometimes people have to go off for a fitting or something. When we work on a scene we are still at the ‘table work’ stage, but there is no table – Matthew doesn’t like them. We sit in a circle so we can all see each other, and there is no head of the table. It is a good way of working, but it can make you quite self-conscious, because we are working through scene by scene, and we are all together, so everybody sees all of the notes you get – when the director tells you the things you are getting wrong – so it can make you self conscious. But it is beneficial, because you understand the full shape of the play and everybody’s journey. We are up to Act 2 Scene 3 so I haven’t met Cressida yet. I’m just about to actually – after lunch! It is a bizarre thing about the play that Troilus and Cressida don’t meet until Act 3 Scene 2, but it is a political play, and a war play, and a love story, and they all intertwine in an odd way.

Circuit Training

The beauty of the first week of rehearsals is that we have not had a typical day. We start each morning with circuit training, so that is standard. We are warriors after all. I think as an actor it is vital to stay in shape, and to stay in control of your body and your voice, so I think it is a really productive thing. It is a team building exercise as well, which is so important. We start with loosening up – running round the room in various different ways, like kicking your bum, and knees to the ceiling. Then we do circuits. The room is split into different areas and in each area you do exercises – so in one area you do push-ups, then sit-ups in another, boxing in one and burpees in another. You do each exercise for 30 seconds and then Matthew will shout ‘change’, and you move on to the next one. Then we finish off with a bit of yoga. It has become almost competitive – certainly spirit-full and entertaining, and we have a lot of fun. But from then on every day has been different. We have done a bit of scene work, and then we have done some ensemble work, we have had fight calls, dance sections, more script work. For me the high-point of the week has been the circuit training, it gets me energised and focused and up for the day. Doing it with other people helps, I often exercise a lot on my own, and it can be boring, but exercise with other people is great. The low-point for me, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, is getting things wrong. Perhaps there is no real wrong and right, but it is getting things not right. Not being on point for certain aspects. I could have researched until the cows come home, but I’ve not been able to figure it out until we got into a room and started reading it and bashing it out. It is OK, because we are in the first few days of rehearsal, and that it the point of it, but for me, it’s not an enjoyable part of the process. It always happens to me at the start of rehearsals, I always take ten steps back from where I thought I was, and then I start to build it up, which is good, because it should mean you peak in the right place, rather than having nowhere to go.

Character

I’m starting to take a different spin on Troilus. Originally I thought he was youthful and emotional, but I was drawing a lot of the emotion to the negative – that he was so love-struck, which is negative, and angry, which is negative; and so pent-up. What I can see now is that the immaturity has a fun side and a playful side, which I think I’m drawing out little by little, which is giving him more balance. He still does not really seem like a 23 year-old, he is far too immature.

 

These comments are the actor's thoughts and ideas about the part as s / he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his / her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsals progress.

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