Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

In his fourth blog post Joseph discuss the technical rehersals, his costume and how the plan for the rest of the rehearsal period.

Transcript of Podcast

Technical Rehearsals

A technical rehearsal is simply what it is…it's the logistics of the play or even the mathematics of the play. It's how you make one and one into two, and two and two into four. It's how you marry all the disparate elements. In this case, our only elements are actors, costume, set, and music. Lighting we leave to the gods. And it's how you get all those things to act as one, to become united and present the play.

Of course, we’ve been rehearsing the play in a rehearsal room for the last five weeks, and the play we did in the rehearsal room and the play we are doing on the stage are not the same thing. There's a kind of intimacy to a rehearsal room; after a couple of weeks I would say it becomes a ‘safe’ space. You get used to the height of the ceiling, or the noises from outside and people are within your sight. But then, you get out onto the stage, where you have to be bigger, you have to be more distinct and you have to speak more clearly. When we rehearsed, for music the DSM [Deputy Stage Manager] would shout ‘Trumpets’ and that was it, we would keep going. When you actually get out there and you have the musicians, who are playing the music live…well we had expected just ‘Trumpets’! As an actor, in rehearsals you use your vocal excitement to build the scene. But in the technical rehearsal you find that the music helps and the costume helps. It gives it a kind of immediacy. It's about bringing them all together so that it looks streamlined, united and all going in the same direction with the same purpose.

Good and bad things about technical rehearsals

The technical rehearsals are long and can be tedious because you can be on your feet for twelve hours and you are in costume. Especially on a day like today when it is 26 degrees centigrade and you are wearing a leather jerkin and lots of layers. I don’t have a toga because I am a soldier, but I do have armour, and sweaty arms and metal don’t go! We have stockings and jerkins and some people have codpieces (I don’t, thank goodness!) and it's not just wearing the costumes but getting in and out of these things as well. In a rehearsal room, you can run across the stage to get to your next entrance but in a real performance you can’t do that, so you have to time how long it takes to walk backstage, through the bookshop, round to the front of house and through the gates to arrive on cue. All those things have to be worked out.

I have a couple of additions to a costume, and I have half a scene to get it on, so I need to know who is going to help me put my armour on; my helmet, my cape and my sword for example. There is usually one person because there are lots of other changes going on at the same time, but if you are lucky you get two. It requires a lot of calm. If you get there and there is no-one around, you simply wait. The person will come and help you. You begin to unbuckle and everything and just wait. The backroom girls work as hard as we do. They have to learn the play, and whereas we have five weeks, they have only three days. They have to learn the scenes, and when the actor comes off, and what he changes into and the same for the ladies costumes too. They have to have it all ready downstairs; the costumes, shoes, blood…! Luckily the blood is only on my armour. It's alright getting it on, but the problem is getting it off for the next scene, after the war is over! All these things have to be worked out as well.


We are given fifteen minutes to get into costume. It's got shorter now, and I would say it's about ten minutes, to get the stockings, the breeches and your shirt. But, of course, we don’t have buttons or hooks and eyes so everything has to be tied with bows. Obviously you can’t tie your own cuffs, so we have to help one another with that. Then there are your shoes, and your jerkin. And many of the guys wear togas. Then you check out your make up, making sure that's ok. And the makeup is original practices too.

The plan from now on

Well this afternoon or tonight we do a dress rehearsal, and tomorrow we’ll probably be called about ten thirty or eleven, then we’ll have notes on the dress rehearsal. If things go really, really wrong we’ll have to rehearse those things. Dominic [the director] will tell us what we did wrong and what we did right; what didn’t work and what needs to be tightened. Basically, we work out what the show needs to make it run smoothly and to be exciting. So we work those bits out, and have another dress rehearsal in the afternoon, and our first preview tomorrow night. And then we will continue working like this until Wednesday which is when we open to the public.


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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