Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsals 2

In her third blog post, Janet Fullerlove (Witch) discusses Macbeth's second meeting with the witches, working with the production's choreographer, Javier de Frutos, and the role of music in the production.

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Time: 8 minutes, 33 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Ryan Nelson:

Hello, my name is Ryan Nelson and this is the third interview for Macbeth with Janet Fullerlove who’s playing a witch in this year’s production. Last week we looked at Act I and the meeting with Macbeth and Banquo the first time and this week we’re going to look at Act 4 when Macbeth meets the witches for the second time in the script. If I could just begin by asking you then, how does that scene fit into the witches’ plans for Macbeth and into the overall story of their relationship with him?

Janet Fullerlove:

When he comes in at the beginning of this scene, when we’ve been cast a spell and plotting, it is all very much part of our plan. We want Macbeth back. That’s what the spell is all about, I mean we start the scene with our familiars calling to us to get on with it, basically, Graymalkin my cat and the other two familiars, and then we start to cast, for us, the ultimate spell. This is the one where we want to get him, hook line and sinker. He’s already coming back, we know he’s coming back, we’re calling him back almost, we know he’s coming back. And so it’s got to be the spell to end all spells in a way, that really just pulls him in finally. So when he comes in we’re almost playing it as though, ‘oh, it’s you’ almost sort of thing, but it isn’t quite like that.

RN:

With that then, once he finally arrives, what happens with the apparitions, how does he become enticed by them?

JF:

We’ve got a Macduff that we, a figure of Macduff we pull out from one of the traps, is the first apparition. And we have the witches going into a trance like state, and we’re the ones that say the words for the apparitions, we were going to have him mouthing it, but it’s powerful enough just as it is.

We want to trap him. There is a point where he sort of walks forward and says ‘come on, I want you to answer my questions’ and we’re kind of almost playing it with our back to him, as though we’re going to not go there, and then, we eventually speak, “Demand, we’ll answer” and then it’s like, “Do you want to hear it from our mouths, or do you want to hear it from our masters?”, and that’s when he goes “Yes, call on them”, and that’s when we think ‘okay, now we’ve got him, we’ve really sucked him in here, he’s coming all the way, we’re going to take him right to the depths of this, he’s going to be horrified by what we show him.’ So I think it sort of moves on to that…

RN:

And then that teasing comes out again at the end very interestingly with the line “seek to know no more”. And I wonder how that’s being played, if you can say?

JF:

We’re still working on the end of that scene, but as far as I’m aware, and I think the other two witches would agree, that it’s still going to be that teasing thing of ‘you don’t want to know anymore’, but then, you know, finally it’s that thing of, ‘ okay, we’re going to show it to you’. “Show his eyes and grieve his heart”, you know, this is it, we’re really going to show you something now that’s going to completely horrify you. Which of course it does.

RN:

And the witches then in that scene, also from looking at rehearsals and talking to you as well, seem to have a real physicality. And obviously on this production we have Javier de Frutos, who is a renowned choreographer. I wonder if you could talk a bit about some of the early work you did with him, and some of the exercises you did and what his role is, and his thinking behind… and what his involvement in the production is.

JF:

Okay, it’s been great to have Javier to work with actually… Certainly at first during the early rehearsals we did an awful lot of exploration stuff that wasn’t particularly going to be set, it was just playing with what we could do physically, so for instance, at one point with the sort of incantation, the spells, he was saying okay just sit and just use your hands, imagine you’re Balinese dancers, you’re going to express it all, yes with your voice and the words, but also just using your hands. And then another exercise where he said okay my assistant Michael [Camp, also playing the Captain in this production], you’ve got to pretend that he doesn’t understand any English, you’re going to have to explain the things that you’re putting in the spell to him, how would you go about that.

And then he would at different times say, ‘okay now I want you run the scene, but go for it, be as physically as huge, take it all the way, doesn’t matter if you go wrong’, I mean, you know, this is the thing, there is no failure, you’ve got to sort of shed your fear, just do it and go to the max, and then he was able to see, he actually said to me at one point after one of the scenes, he said ‘you’ve got a really good physical range’, and I thought, ‘yeah, that’s really great at 52!’, because, you know, we talked, the witches are often seen as mother, maid etc, and we don’t want to be that, and he didn’t want me to be the maternal one, it’s too obvious, and being the older of the three, too easy for me to sort of fall into that, and I don’t want to, he doesn’t want to, he said ‘yeah, I can see you’re more of an old biker rock chick sort of thing!’

So we explored all sorts of different ways of moving, none of it actually set, he’s really helped us to explore it physically, you know, to the edge of our physical range really, which is, once you’ve done it to the max you can then pull it back, you can hone it down and decide what you want to keep. Easier that way than trying to build it up from nothing, sort of thing.

RN:

Yes, I can imagine that. And then the other element obviously that I think helps build the world of the play is the music and the soundscape, and I know that we also have Orlando Gough composing. I wonder if you could talk a bit about the music and how that’s working, because I know it’s involved a lot with the world of the witches.

JF:

It is, very much so, because a lot of our incantations are rhymes, lend themselves to rhythm and to the music, and he has gone away and composed a few pieces that go with, for instance, “the double double toil and trouble”, and with the incantation the weird sisters hand in hand, that section, and also “fair is foul and foul is fair”, but we’ve done that one in Gaelic which is [speaks Gaelic]; very sort of guttural sounding.

RN:

That’s an amazing sound!

JF:

It is, it’s a lovely sound! So we’ve got that chant of [speaks Gaelic]. That one kind of seemed to sit very easily with what we’d already done, the piece of music that he wrote for that, and then he came back with a different piece of music for “the Weird Sisters, hand in hand / Posters of the sea and land” etcetera. It was almost too melodic, it was too bright sounding, it was too folky sounding. And Lucy heard it and we kind of all agreed, and so did Orlando when he saw what we we’d been doing before that with the scene that it needed darkening a lot, so we then tried: the two other witches took one note and sang with the rhythm of the melody he’d written, and I sang just a semitone underneath, so it got a really nasty, clashing sound. And this has now developed, we tried it with the musicians and the band underneath with a muted trombone sound which is really… it does sound like something evil I have to say! Not that the trombone always sounds evil, but the way that this chap plays it does. I think there’s going to be a didgeridoo in there as well, it’s going to have this dark, rhythmic sound, and the second time through that we sing it we wanted it to become more feverish and build to a fever pitch, so what we’ve done is we’ve taken the consonants out and we only sing the vowels of the sounds, and so it just becomes, it has the rhythms so we all know where we are rhythmically, but it’s just got this wild, guttural sound that doesn’t make any sense, but just sounds so much like some kind of scary spell, so it’s great, it’s really good.

RN:

I cannot wait to hear that! That’s going to be amazing, especially in the wooden space of the Globe.

JF:

Yeah, yes, yes.

RN:

Which you’ll be moving into towards the end of next week, actually?

JF:

Yes, I think so. Can’t wait to get in there actually!

RN:

So hopefully in your next interview we can talk about how you’re finding it actually rehearsing on the stage.

JF:

Yes, I’m told lots of things change when you get into that space, and not all the blocking and things that you’ve decided stays at it was.

RN:

Well, we’ll have to find out what changes. Thank you very much!

JF:

Thank you!

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