Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

In his fourth blog post Mark discusses the difficulties of blocking on the Globe stage, how he feels about his costume, and the use of dance and music in the play.

Transcript of Podcast


The blocking is fairly loose. The director is not overly worried about blocking the action. Sometimes we form nasty clumps or end up in unhelpful lines and she’ll point that out. The size of the stage and where the audience are means that the blocking can’t really be naturalistic. The audience is on almost more than three sides, you could say four fifths of a circle, and the playing space is so wide that you have to stand un-naturalistically far away from people you are talking to. The two pillars are also a problem, sometimes they get in the way of seeing people. So there are some blocking issues but we are also still fairly free.

Learning Lines

We are all off book. We didn’t discuss it, but as soon as we stood up to rehearse we were all pretty much off book. It was almost like an unspoken thing we particularly for the first few scenes. I don’t like to rehearse with a script in my hand. I always try and learn my lines. If you have your script in your hand then there is always a time when you have to put it down and then suddenly you wonder what to do I do with your hands and often your whole focus has to change.

Actually what I find helpful is to learn my lines and do the thing that apparently they did in Shakespeare’s day, which was only to learn the three or four words before your cue. If nothing else it helps you to listen to everyone else because you don’t quite know when your line is coming and it also helps you to know why you are saying what you are saying.


We’ve been having some costume fittings. I had one this morning. I’ve been given some funny boots and they asked if it was what I imagined wearing. I wasn’t sure if I had really thought about it. They are quite pointy boots and they look a bit girly to me, but then I don’t really know much about fashion. The design is Renaissance with a modern twist. The modern twist is in details like the trousers have twisted seams or double stripes, or a modern fabric. We’ve been trying these hats from Top Man. The servant parts will perhaps be costumed from stores, but most of the character’s costumes are being made and with this contemporary flavour. It is sort of doublet and hose, but I think the idea is that it’s doublet and hose that you might see on the catwalk in Milan. Of course it is not for all the characters I mean, the Doge of Venice has to have his hat. Things are being observed. In the fittings we have been discussing: where is the line between modern and historical?


We are having a big jig at the end. It’s good fun. We have been rehearsing that for a while. The jig is quite choreographed. It is very much a couples dance. There are bits where the couples do their own thing, and most of the couples have made up little bits of choreography themselves, but it is very much within a format. There is even a bit of singing in the jig. We all sing a chorus. Shylock comes in to the jig, well I say Shylock, and it’s more like John McEnery playing Shylock comes into the jig. It’s like we say: ‘You are not Shylock anymore, you are John, an actor, and all the being horrible to you in the play that’s over and we are all friends again. This is just a play.’


There is quite a lot of music in the show. We did a big music rehearsal a couple of days ago with the band. There’s quite a lot of singing. We’ve got partly to emphasis the Christian world and we’ve got bits of music for the entrances of the suitors.

I’ve got this big Gondola song in the scene before we steal Jessica. Myself and Solereo are going to enter in a Gondola and everyone will be singing. That’s quite a big entrance. And then we’ve got a song in a masque scene and a big dance.

The music is entirely period. We’ve got bagpipes, which are mentioned in the text. Shylock mentions bagpipes a couple of times. We’ve got quite a lot of drums and a dedicated singer, Vivienne who is going to lead some of the singing and do solo bits. She has a song in the casket scene.

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.

Back to top



We welcome your opinions. This is a public forum. Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our Forum Rules.