Shakespeare's Globe

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Janet Fullerlove (Witch) talks to Adopt An Actor about the 2010 production of Macbeth. In this first interview, she discusses her experience of Shakespeare at school, how she became an actor, her initial impressions of the play and the first day of rehearsals.

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Time: 6 minutes, 37 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Ryan Nelson:

Hello these are the Adopt An Actor podcasts for 2010 and I’m here with Janet Fullerlove who is playing a witch in this season’s production of Macbeth. I’m just going to jump straight in with the first question then and ask what your experience of Shakespeare was like at school?

Janet Fullerlove:

My experience of Shakespeare at school was one that was quite hands-on, quite practical. The first part I played was actually Monsieur Jaques in As You like It and so I had to familiarise myself with the ‘Seven Ages Of Man’ speech. I always ended up with the boys parts (I was quite interested actually to see that the Globe has done a season with women and I hope you do another!). So there was that.

But also simultaneously my older sister learnt the French horn from a chap who was the court musician at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and therefore whenever they had dress rehearsals, he would get us in. And this was from quite a young age, I think from about the age of 9 or 10 onwards, and my mother used to take us. We would go and we would be there all night and we would sit and we would have the whole place to ourselves pretty much and take a picnic and sit in the best seats, and I was just enchanted by the whole thing. I can honestly say that was a massive influence on me becoming an actor, it really was. So Shakespeare was there right at the beginning for me.

RN:

So having made that decision then of wanting to get into acting how did you go about it?

JF:

I ended up going to drama school – I went to Mountview – quite late on. I didn’t go straight after school. I had a year or so out, which wasn’t a bad thing, because then I’d got some experience of life, and I think that if you are getting up on stage and pretending to be someone else, if you haven’t an y experience of life, how can you pretend in a part some experience? So I think it was quite healthy to have that time off and grow up a little bit outside of the institutions before going back into an institution.

So yes, I went through drama school. I ended up singing in lots of different clubs around London with two other girls to get my provision equity card. And then from that I actually ended up going on and doing music for quite a few years before I came back to theatre. But I always knew that I ‘d come back, and I always knew that it wouldn’t be when I was young – I’m not a dolly bird, I’m not a looker! – I always knew that I was a character actress and so I feel that I’ve now grown into the old bag for the parts that I’ve yearned for all my life.

RN:

That’s very critical …!

JF:

Well, it’s just truthful! I was never going to get the pretty parts, and if you’re not a pretty part, you know, the character parts are quite often older, so I’m looking forward to all those juicy parts that are going to come my way now.

RN:

You mentioned that early love of Shakespeare and I think that Macbeth is probably a play that is quite familiar in the common consciousness. What are your impressions of the play coming up to early rehearsals?

JF:

I wasn’t overly familiar with it, but of course everybody knows the witches and “Double, double toil and trouble”, and all that. One thing that I think is always the case with Macbeth (as with many Shakespeares) is people think “What are they going to do differently with it this time?” and with this play, it is about what Macbeth’s doing, but also about what have they done with the witches. You’ve always got to find a new level with them or something different to take the audience’s imagination with you I suppose. So that’s been quite interesting. Lucy [Bailey] the director is wonderful – she’s got an imagination! – but also she gives us free reign to experiment and push the boat out and push it all the way and then, it’s much easier once you’ve pushed it all the way out to bring it back a little, look for what you might be after And refine it I guess Very much so, yes

RN:

With those initial impressions of the character then, did you do any research before rehearsals began, or do you prefer to come to the rehearsal room as a blank state?

JF:

In the past with most parts I have done I have tended to wanted to come as a blank state, and largely I have done that wit this. But I am just intrigued by witchcraft in and things like that general. I actually do the runes myself, so I do a little bit of slightly witchy stuff (it’s not really witchy – some people might think that – it’s an oracle you consult). So a little bit about witchcraft really, not so much about their context within the play.

But Lucy had talked about the way she wanted to set it and so forth, and there were some references she gave me to look up, and I Googled that and looked at some pictures that were relevant to the set and so forth. But other than that, no, I like to come with a blank state and play. It’s very enjoyable as well if you come with a blank state and an open mind, it’s just wonderful to have that freedom to play around with a part. Its great, the rehearsal process is enormously enjoyable I think.

RN:

On that note, then, the first day of rehearsals – what is that like (for people who might not know) and how did you find it?

JF:

Well for start, coming to the Globe – ‘cause it’s my first time at the Globe (and I hope not my last ‘cause I love it) – very exciting! It’s the kind of place that any actor worth their salt really wants to work, I think. And so, very exciting, a bit nerve-wracking coming into a room with lots of people. We were given a sheet with photos of all the different actor playing the parts, so we were able to try and recognise people, and I went and found my other two witches straight away!

And then we of course sat down and had a read through. And that’s always interesting cos you then start to hear people’s voices for the first time and there were a few people’s voices when you heard them, they just strike a note. Also, because I had come with a blank state, and hadn’t done anything rehearsal before, and I didn’t realise Lucy had been rehearsing with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and Banquo already. And there was Macbeth and he was obviously off-book, had learnt some lines, and I thought, “He’s a swot, he’s done loads of work!” and then I realised that it was because they had rehearsed and …

RN:

Cheated!

JF:

Yes, but well, you know, fair enough! He’s got a lot more to learn than …. I’d better take that back – he’s obviously not a swot! But it was very interesting listening to hear him read his lines and there was a great deal of expression and they way he read them I noticed was markedly different and I wondered if he had had some time with Giles who helps us with text.

RN:

Wonderful! Well, we’re very excited to find out what’s going to happen in the next week of rehearsals and we hope you’ll have lots to tell us.

JF:

Yes, indeed!

RN:

Thank you very much.

JF:

Thank you.

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