Shakespeare's Globe

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“I love listening to it, and I feel quite privileged to listen to everybody’s journey as it comes to a conclusion.”
As the tour comes to the Globe stage, Bethan discusses performing at the Globe, the rain that poured during the storm scene, and the appearance of a surprise visitor during a performance.

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Time: 7 minutes 21 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Rachel Ely:

How was your first performance in Lear at the Globe?

Bethan Cullinane:

Crazy! It was amazing. I was really really nervous in a way that I haven’t been nervous like that for a long time. But good nerves. We’ve been out on stage and just sort of looking around and it’s just completely in your peripheral vision, it’s everywhere you look. But that doesn’t prepare you for when you come out and there’s faces instead of just wooden seats. But it’s amazing and I think we’re lucky in some ways, or I felt really lucky being my first time, that we come out and talk to the audience first as actors. So that gave me chance to adjust to ‘oh my god’ rather than making an entrance as a character and just being completely overwhelmed. But yeah just incredible. I was saying after the show, I was saying it’s like how people talk about their wedding day, when it’s the most important, it’s the most amazing day of your life, but you can’t remember what happened. And it sort of felt like that it’s just this mad rush, this huge adrenaline rush in a way that I woke up this morning after the first performance, and I felt just completely drained. But yeah it was incredible, I loved it.


What reactions have you had from the audience and are they reacting in ways you expected?


In some places they are and in other places not at all. The Globe is very very different. And what I love about it is they are- the audience are - surprising me which is changing things that I’m doing and keeping things fresh as well. Especially just cause they’re everywhere you look, you can’t avoid them. If you turn one way there’s someone there, they’re all around you. And so you’ll not even be talking in a scene, you’ll just look over your shoulder and there’ll be someone - one of the groundlings - just reacting. And just looking at you as if you were in the scene, completely supporting you. And that’s just like ‘Oh, alright then, hi’. Yeah with all the fool stuff, it’s kind of like they give me a lot of my jokes I guess. The way they react and kind of there with you and encouraging what you’re saying and they’ve made me realise things that I didn’t realise before. When you’re talking to the people at the Globe, you’ll say a line you’ve said before and something on their face will change. And you sort of go, ‘Oh gosh of course that’s what that line means’. Even though you know what the line means, but suddenly just looking in somebody’s face and seeing how it changes them, you learn something from it. So it’s just, every night will be entirely different, depending on who is in, the pressure is on you!


Speaking of who is in and what faces you can see, you’ve now performed during the day and at night. Have you noticed any differences?


Not massively. I thought that as the sun came down and the lights came up I thought that you wouldn’t be able to see as many faces but they are all still very very clear. I think there’s a thing about the sun going down that – you get in when you’re a kid when the sun starts going down and you’re like ‘Ooo it’s night time!’ So that’s something of the night time performances, there’s a different energy – not necessarily worse, but there’s a different atmosphere I suppose. It’s kind of like the world is moving with the play. Not that it doesn’t feel like that in the day time. I mean today it rained, and it’s the first time –we’ve been standing in rain for a while – but it’s the first time it rained in the storm. Because usually it will rain loads, the heavens will open, we will get to the storm and we’ll be ‘brilliant, gonna do the storm in the rain, it’s going to be amazing, just gonna react to the elements.’ Then we’ll get out there and it stops raining. And you’re just like ‘Oh right. Great.’ And we finish the storm, the storm is over, and it rains again! You’re just like ‘no!’ Yeah today it rained through the storm so even that it’s day time, and you don’t have the sun going down electricity, but you’ve got loads of stuff anyway. Rain and… I suppose in some ways, even though you can see everything at night it is a lot clearer in the day, and everyone seems very alert  and completely with you, and you just all these faces looking down, pretty scary!


And how much are the Globe’s distractions, like helicopters and such, or the audience in general, birds, affecting your performance?


Not in a negative way, at all. I think, in all the other venues we’ve been in there’s been things like that. And any theatre, phones going off, someone having a coughing fit. There are things that do distract you. In Istanbul a cat ran on stage! In this massive beautiful church this cat just came out of nowhere. There were pigeons going overhead so there’s loads of things. If you can use it, it’s at the right moment, then those distractions suddenly become really liberating and exciting.


Was the cat in your scene?


The cat luckily was not in my scene, otherwise I would have used it! I wouldn’t have a moment to use a cat, I might as the fool, you never know. There are times when you can use something, you know an aeroplane going overhead when you’re talking to the elements, there are times when everything chimes in together and it’s wonderful and all the audience get it as well. Then there are times when it doesn’t and that’s fine, because if you don’t acknowledge it neither does the audience and you just get on with it in the same way that if someone was coughing, you don’t embrace that. But I’m sure if someone was jumping up and down shouting in the Globe it would be very distracting because you can see everything.


Ok well my very last question is what is your favourite moment in the play?


I think – it’s a really hard question. There are loads. But I think, if I have to choose one, I’m going to say it’s the end of the play. When I’m dead - for a reason! Not just because I don’t have to do anything, which I do – it’s hard playing dead! But just because, I’ve got my eyes shut and so obviously everything I hear is tuned up, and so I listen to everyone and I’ve got Joe right next to me. And I often feel very moved by him and obviously I can’t cry because I’m dead, but I just love listening to it. Having been an actor in that performance, I feel quite privileged to get to lie back and listen to what everybody has made happen. Everybody’s journey coming to a conclusion. And also to the audience as well in that moment, and the silence, it’s really lovely to have been on stage in the madness of the Globe and all the elements and everything , it’s very overwhelming. And then that moment to be able to be right on stage, but to be able to listen to the story as well, and how you can almost hear how people have been moved in the audience as well. And the obviously I get up and jig! And I love jigging! And I love that bit as well because it’s the moment where everybody – all the actors on stage and we’re acknowledging each other and we’re saying yep we’ve done this and we’ve told this story, and we’re also saying it to the audience. And the audience are joining in the jig. They are jigging in the audience. So I think I would say yeah just because it’s a moment where I can really involve myself fully – including the jig. I like jigs! 

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