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This week, Janet Fullerlove (Witch) is in technical rehearsals, and talks about the experience of putting the play onto the stage, wearing costume for the first time and rehearsing the jig.

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Time: 10 minutes, 37 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Ryan Nelson:

Hello I’m Ryan Nelson, and these are the Globe Education podcasts for Adopt an Actor. I’m here with Janet Fullerlove, who plays a witch in this year’s production of Macbeth. And it’s been a while since our last interview with rehearsals, but today we’re going to talk about tech week. And I guess the first important question to ask is: what is a tech week?

Janet Fullerlove:

Well, tech week for us was literally going through the play step by step, line by line, in the space, it’s the first time in the space, which is very exciting for us, as the actors and performers. But also, it’s so that we can get all the technical things correct: all the music cues; anything that is meant to move; any trap work. It’s for all the backstage, stage management people to go through every single little thing that they do, and it’s all noted and rehearsed and if it doesn’t work you maybe have to redo it. So it is very very slow, and it took us three days to go from the beginning of the play to the end of the play, and that was three days of 12 hour days.

RN:

10am to 10pm?

JF:

Yeah.

RN:

Long days!

JF:

Very long days, it’s a very long week once you start tech week, yeah.

RN:

And how was it moving from the rehearsal room, with obviously four walls and a roof, onto the Globe stage?

JF:

So different, and extremely exciting, and also slightly scary (more than slightly!), perhaps even more so for the people who’ve got the larger parts to do, particularly from the point of view of voice, because you certainly become very aware of the fact that you’ve got to fill this space when you’re in it. It’s very different to just in a rehearsal room where you’ve got one row of people in front of you you’ve got to get the lines to. Suddenly you’ve got a potential 700 groundlings in the yard alone, and 800 additional people that go from the floor, way up above your normal eye-line. And you can’t just simply deliver all of you lines up to the top or the ones down below won’t hear you, and not only that they’re nearly all the way around you as well, so it’s an enormous challenge, but one that I kind of like, one that I like, yeah.

RN:

With the unique dimensions of the Globe space, it’s almost in some ways like acting in the round. Had Lucy Bailey the director blocked the play in the rehearsal room, or did that change when you were in tech week?

JF:

She’d done an awful lot of blocking in the rehearsal room with a view to the way things were, and warned us that a lot of things would probably change when we got in the space. Not only that, there were certain things that there was no point in her blocking, particularly for us witches, until we got into the space. For instance, she’d been working the scenes line by line, as it were, and going through them, but in the original text of the play, the witches are only in three scenes. We appear in something like 12 scenes in this production. We’re on and off and on and off and on and off, so we’re on a lot of the time watching what’s going on, we’re watching Macbeth, watching his progress, and so that really didn’t happen so much, we started doing some of that in the rehearsal space, but we knew a lot of that would happen once we got into the Globe space itself, partly because a lot of our work goes with part of the set, which is this big sort of curtain that comes down and runs round a circular track that goes above our heads. It’s very exciting; albeit a dark, colourless set, it’s a very powerful set I think.

RN:

Very dynamic.

JF:

Extremely. And so, you know, a lot of the stuff, we could talk through it in the rehearsal room, but you wouldn’t know whether it was going to work or not until you got into the space. So certain things worked, certain things didn’t. And you know, we were short of time because then we were going into the dress rehearsal on the Friday, and the first performance, the first preview was on the Friday night, so there were things that were put in on preview which at the end of the show on Friday evening she was saying “It’s not going to work; tomorrow when we do the dress rehearsal can you do this, we haven’t’ got time to rehearse it now.” So on the dress rehearsal we were then doing things for the first time, and then after the dress there were notes that we were given “That didn’t quite work, so now instead of you doing this can you do that, but again we don’t have time to rehearse it”. So on the preview itself there were still moves that we were doing for the first time ever. We had to be so on top of our game us witches.

RN:

An absolute challenge.

JF:

Very much so.

RN:

One of the other elements that I guess obviously that you’re aware of and working on throughout the rehearsal process is your costume, but it’s really only with tech week that you really come to inhabit it for a distinct period, how important is costume to you as an actor for defining or adding to the character that you’ve built?

JF:

I love getting into costume! I don’t know if there is really an actor that doesn’t really like getting into costume. I mean, come on, it’s where we all started, dressing up with the dressing up box at home! And there’s something wonderful about getting into costume and seeing the other actors in their costumes for the first time, and you start to suddenly see the characters they are and suddenly all the blokes seem to look very tall, these huge sort of 11th Century Scottish warriors we’re working with. Suddenly they emerge and it’s not just Christian [Bradley], it’s Banquo, this great chunky chap, you know, and Elliot [Cowan] again in all his stuff, with his rippling muscles where he’s just been in baggy tracksuit bottoms or whatever. I’m sure all his fan club would love it! But anyway, so yes, it really does make a huge difference.

Plus, we’d been for costume fittings, witches, and there’d been great big debate about what we’d be wearing and whether we could make it work because we’ve got stewards tunics. For those people who aren’t aware who are listening, there are stewards who work at the Globe who help with the audience, help them find their seats, and they wear these maroon tunics that say “Globe” on them and “Steward”…

RN:

As part of their uniform…

JF:

As part of their uniform. Lucy Bailey wanted us to wear these tunics over and part of our witch costume, and we were going “But it’s just going to look so weird. We’re 11th Century women who’ve made a pact with the devil and we’re witches, and then we’re wearing 21st century Globe steward ushers, you know, it’s not going to work”. We were kind of really doubtful, and we knew why she wanted to do this, and we were out in the crowd at first and everything, but we didn’t realise that it was really going to work until we had seen what wardrobe had done with them. And also, you know, when you’re trying on stuff before they’ve dyed it the final colour you’re thinking “Oh this looks a bit bright red, it’s a bit new”. And then of course you see the final thing where they’ve turned it this sort of dark, curdle-y blood red colour and ragged the hem with wire brushes and the tunics have been virtually all but destroyed and they sort of hang on, and they really work.

And then finally, to get your make-up put on, for us especially was crucial; it just made an enormous difference. We had this amazing white pallor that we put on, a white base, and then all the rings around our eyes are darkened so we look really hollow-eyed, and our cheekbones are sort of dark and below, so we look like we’ve got very hollow cheeks and red underneath our eyes so we look very ghoulish, sickly. And on our lips, not just a white but a slight, just a slight tint of an orangey-yellow in there as well. So really very scary. So when we started walking around with our costumes and makeup on people really were, other people in the cast were really reacting to us as well. But yes for us, there I was suddenly, I really was this witch, you know, it’s astonishing. These headbands and headdresses as well that they’ve done for us as well.

RN:

And they do look amazing, for anybody who’s coming to see it.

JF:

Yeah, they do, and they’re the only bit of colour in Macbeth, everything else is either black or grey.

RN:

It’s quite monochromatic.

JF:

Very, you know, so we’re the only bit of colour, but it’s a very bloody colour that we’re in, obviously.

RN:

It’s sort of like a bruise or a scab.

JF:

Yeah, and then of course they made up, because we’ve got bare arms, and you can see the lower parts of our legs and they made up our arms and legs, we do that ourselves now, sort of bruised, dirty all the way down our arms. And there’s a wonderful sort of blood stuff that comes in a pot that’s very thick, and we put it on with a slightly scratchy sponge, and it makes what looks like a scab, it dries like a scab, so we’ve got bloody scabs all over our arms, it’s very effective!

RN:

You love it, don’t you!

JF:

I do, I do, I love it!

RN:

And one of the other things that we haven’t really talked about up to this point previously in rehearsals is the jig. And if you could talk a little bit about what a jig is at the Globe, and then how yours have been?

JF:

As far as I know the jig is partly to cleanse the space I suppose, once the play is over, and the entire company does the jig together at the end of the show; people applaud as we come out, we take a bow and then we do this jig. And it’s also, I think, if the play has had characters in it who have had disagreements or who have been warring factions, it’s almost to sort of bring them together again within one, I suppose, one company, so it’s a very cleansing sort of pleasant thing to do.

Our jig in particular, we didn’t start work officially on it very early in rehearsals, but the warm-up sessions that we were doing with Michael Camp, one of the other actors, who’s superb, and with Javier de Frutos [choreographer on Macbeth], took some of those movements from that warm-up session and they sort of grew and, as Javier would say, “I don’t like to use the word ‘organic’,” he said, “but I’m going to use it” – it was an organic process, and it kind of grew from that warm-up session into this jig that we do, which does have a sort of 11th century primeval sort of feel to it. We use our fists and swing our limbs and a bit of stamping and stuff, and we do it in … it takes us in different directions, it’s sort of salutary as well to the audience I think as well, which is rather nice.

RN:

Wonderful. Well, thank you very much for today, and next time hopefully we’ll get to talk about what happens when you actually go up in performance.

JF:

Yes indeed!

RN:

Thank you very much.

JF:

Thanks.

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