Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 3

In his third blog post Keith discusses how running the play can help performances, the importance of clear vowels when speaking Shakespeare, and playing a fairy.

Transcript of Podcast

Running the play

We are starting to do runs on Saturdays now, which are very helpful, as I can see both the pitfalls and the positives in the play as a whole. The first run was very encouraging, as it was very fluent: scenes flowed into each other very well. The second half needs more work than the first, as you'd expect, seeing that we've rehearsed the first half more, but in general it was very good. This production will begin with the whole cast coming on-stage, then going to sleep. As each character's name is mentioned, or as they become involved with the action of the story, they wake up. Each character will have a li-lo, or some pillows and blankets to fall asleep on, things that will remain on-stage for the whole show. We were a bit worried that they might become a hindrance at certain points in the play, but doing runs has shown us that we can use them throughout the show without them seeming false to any situation.

"Points of Concentration"

We made a good breakthrough the other day, when Mike introduced us to an exercise he calls "Points of Concentration." We pretty much know the scenes now; we know our lines, we know what our character wants at particular points, and we know what actions are particularly appropriate for our characters in certain situations. In this exercise, Mike asks us to put all these ideas to one side and concentrate instead on a different fact or thought. For example, he would ask us to concentrate on the fact that it's very cold in a particular scene, and see how that affects our performance. This has been especially useful in the lovers' scene (Act iii, scene 2), where the point of concentration is simply that it's very, very dark. By focusing on this, we all ended up on our hands and knees, crawling around the stage, feeling our way around. Not being able to "see" each other made the language more open and real; we discovered things about it, and ways of saying it, that we'd never found in standing up and talking to each other.

Voice and Vowels

We've also been working with Stewart [Pearce, Master of Voice] on our clarity of speech, especially on our vowel sounds. Vowels add weight to the way words sound. In normal life, people generally speak very quickly. If you just give the words a bit more time, the text comes alive. We (the lovers) were looking at scenes as a group. For each line, we picked out the vowel sounds and discarded the rest. Having played with the vowel sounds, we then went back to the original line. It's amazing how doing this brings the line to life; knowing the line as its simplest sounds helps us to deliver the line much more clearly than before.

Rehearsing on the Globe stage

We did some scenes on the Globe stage for the first time this morning, which was quite a scary experience. The scenes all feel very raw at the moment, and the space feels very open. I think it's impossible to be totally naturalistic on that stage; your physicality needs to be slightly bigger than in real life. Still, it's a fine line; it mustn't be so overly physical that the characters appear untruthful to themselves and the situation they are in. I think that Demetrius is very strong and upright, and very smooth in his movements. In contrast, when I'm playing a fairy, I try to be much lighter and faster.


Usually, I'm one of Oberon's fairies, but Mike [Alfreds] said today that he would like me to be in the scene where the fairies sing Titania to sleep, because I sing a bit. The fairies are on stage for a lot of Oberon and Titania's scenes, and we're being encouraged to interact with them, whilst at the same time not taking anything away from what they're doing. Sometimes, we pick them up and make them "fly" around the stage. Paul [Higgins, who plays Oberon] is very good, and a very receptive actor. As a result, we always know when he wants us to be there with him and when he wants us to leave him alone. All of this movement, especially because it's not actually blocked, means it's important that the company know and trust each other. This is one of the reasons it's brilliant that we have a relatively long rehearsal period.

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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