Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 5

This is Zoe's fifth and final blog entry for the 2007 production of Othello in which she discusses press night and changes in her character.

Transcript of Podcast

Press Night

There is a way in which you try to deal with press night as if it was a normal show, because you don’t want it to change that much from the way you have been doing it for the last two weeks. Plus you should treat every show as a special night. But you can’t get away from the fact that it is nerve wracking having the critics there. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an extra warm-up or an extra collecting of my thoughts before I started. Perhaps I took an extra 20 minutes to make sure my voice was in tip-top shape. We didn’t have a company-wide response, it was a personal thing. Every one reacts differently to press night. I try to keep a calm exterior but inside it is sort of bubbling around.

I think the show went well. It was a very, very hot night, not like today when it is pouring down with rain, which can be a bit disheartening. The thing that Press Night always gives a performance is an extra adrenaline buzz – I think everyone was extra alive. It was a fast-paced, electric, show. Everyone felt good afterwards and it certainly gave us all a buzz and we were proud of it. We went away feeling we deserved our post show drinks.

I do read what the critics write. A lot of actors say that they don’t read reviews but my curiosity gets the better of me. Sometimes it is not a good thing – if you read something that is not very nice you take it to heart, but really you need to keep it in perspective and think this is one person’s opinion, and you win some and you lose some. The ones I’ve read so far have been fine. Some of them have been quite mixed, but today we have had a gorgeous one in the Observer. The Sunday Times liked it, but the Observer loved it, and it was especially nice about me. It must be a very funny job being a critic. You can tell the good ones from the bad ones. Some people like to put in a little funny jibe-ey comment which they think makes it quite an amusing article to read, when actually that can be quite personal. Others actually really know what they are talking about and really understand this space, because the Globe is a really different space and a lot of reviewers review it as if it was a typical theatre. It isn’t, and you have to deal with things in a very different way in this space. Othello in the Globe will be a very different production from the Othello which will be on in the Donmar Warehouse in the autumn. It will always be a different type of performance and a good critic will understand that and review it accordingly.


Last week I talked about some changes in Desdemona I had been trying out. During the week I went from one extreme to the other almost. I tried out quite a few different things and then towards the last couple of shows before the press night I settled on the right balance. Wilson [the Director] and I came to a good compromise, so before press night it felt settled. It feels quite different inside, but as I said last week it may not look very different from outside. I think what the audience might see is I play her as more of a woman rather than a girl. She does have girly moments, but she goes on a hell of a journey in the play, she really does have to grow up quickly. I think I injected more of the poise of a knowing woman towards the end than I had in the earlier previews.

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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