Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

This is Michael's second blog entry for the 2002 production of Twelfth Night in which he talks about tech week and the difficulties of performing on the Globe stage.

Transcript of Podcast

Tech Week

We’re in the middle of the technical week at the moment, and things are getting rather busy. We start at 10am and finish at 10pm, with only two breaks, so I’m getting rather tired. The technical week is where we go through the whole play making sure that it will all fit together. In a conventional theatre, this often means that the actors will do little bits of the play over and over again whilst the crew makes sure that the technical side of the show (lighting cues, sound cues, special effects etc) fits with what the actors are doing on stage. At the Globe, it's slightly different! One of the main things the company does during this week is to make sure we’re certain about our entrances and exits. Before this week, we hadn’t necessarily decided which doors we would use at different points during the play. What's important is to maintain the sense of place; if your character is moving through a location, e.g. coming into the scene from one location and then leaving to go somewhere else, you need to pick your doors carefully so that when you leave, you don’t go back where you came from. At the same time, stage management have to make sure that all the props we need, whether they be heavy, like a desk and chairs, or lighter, like pen and paper, are brought on-stage at the right time. This sounds simple enough, but it takes a surprisingly long time to find out exactly how long each scene change will take, and whether the actors should begin the scene before the scene change has been completed.

Performing on the Globe Stage

I’m gradually becoming more comfortable working on the Globe stage. I’m not confident yet; yesterday morning I walked out onto the stage to be immediately told “speak up!” Another thing I need to be careful of is my positioning. I’m very aware that I mustn’t stand in the same space for too long, as that will alienate me from those members of the audience who can’t see me when I stand there. Having said that, I like to stand still when I deliver those lines that I think reveal something important about Viola. For example, in act ii scene 4, Viola is talking guardedly to Orsino about the strength of women's love, and of her own secret love in particular. She speaks of her father's daughter who:

“… never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek.
She pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.”
(ii.4.109-114)

I think Viola is in a quandary when she tells him this; she desperately wants to tell him the truth, but at the same time she's terrified of what might happen if she did. It's such an important moment for her, and I think that were I to keep moving as I say those lines, their power and importance would be lost. Still, we’ll see what happens as we get closer to performance. The nice thing with this production is that the blocking for each scene is not set in stone, and with such a long run ahead, I think that's a good thing; if we were doing the same moves every night, it might get a bit mechanical. There are certain movements that I seem to make every time we run particular scenes; this is just because they still feel like the best thing to do at those particular moments. There's no point in changing something that works, but there always has to be scope to keep the production fresh and exciting.

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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