Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Production Notes 2

In her final blog post Philippa discusses how the play continues to develop in performance and her experiments in addressing the audience, and she looks ahead to rehearsing The Golden Ass.

Transcript of Podcast

Developing the play

We’re in the middle of the season now, but the production is still changing and growing, which is very exciting. One of the reasons why it can keep developing like this is because there is no pre-determined blocking. Instead of knowing exactly where and when everybody will be moving from and to during each scene, everybody makes their own decisions about where and when to move whilst the scene is taking place. This is a result of Mike [Alfreds, Master of Play]’s chosen style of rehearsal and preparation. At any time, both how we say our lines and how we move on stage is determined by our character’s objective or intention (what they want) at that particular moment in the play, and a lot of our rehearsal time was used to discover what our character’s intentions are at different times in the play. However, even if I was to give my character the same intention in each scene for every single performance, there are lots of different movements and reactions I could make as a result of that one intention. For example, when Hermia comes on at the end of iii.2, she’s at first really happy because she’s found Lysander, but then he keeps denying that he loves her:

HERMIA: But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?
LYSANDER: Why should he stay whom love doth press to go?
HERMIA: What love could press Lysander from my side?
LYSANDER: Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide:

I think Hermia’s intention at this point in the play is to question Lysander and be comforted by him, but there are lots of different actions/movements that I could make as a result of that intention. Yesterday, I tried something new: in some performances, I drifted towards Lysander during these 4 lines, but yesterday, I ran towards him on each of my lines, as if to say, "stop joking with me!" only to be turned away repeatedly. This is just one way I could play the same intention behind these four lines.

When I’m playing Hermia, I have to consider a huge number of potential intentions and their supporting actions, so in many ways it’s rather a relief when I’m playing a fairy, whose only intentions are to support Titania in her struggle with Oberon, and otherwise simply enjoy life and help others to do the same. Those scenes when I’m playing a fairy, although very involving and tiring, are mentally like mini-holidays, in a way.


About a week ago, I started to lose my voice, which was very worrying! I am always very careful to do a vocal warmup before each performance, but I was always very tense and nervous before going on stage. Now, I have altered my daily warmup so that I spend more time getting my body to relax. I do lots of breathing exercises where I spend time focusing on my breath. By focusing in this way on where the sound is coming from, I relaxed much more, which makes my voice far less strained.


I’m still experimenting with saying different lines to the audience, and I’ve become far more adventurous with the lines I’m delivering out to the yard. Actors often say of the Globe space that the audience is the final member of the cast, which is true, and I’ve started to include them a lot more in my performance. In the end, however, it all depends on Hermia’s intentions at certain points during the play. For example, in ii.2, she responds to Lysander’s argument that they should share a bed with the line, "Lysander riddles very prettily" (ii.2.59). If I feel her intention is to forcibly dissuade him, I direct the line to him, but if she is tempted by his suggestion and her intention becomes to explain her momentary consideration of his offer, she could direct it towards the audience. In the same way, Hermia could appeal to the audience for judgement in iii.2, when she decries the way in which she feels Helena has unfairly compared herself and her:

"Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures. She hath urged her height,
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him."

I’m really enjoying delivering my lines to an audience, because the audiences we’ve been having are very warm and appreciative.

The Golden Ass

On Tuesday, we start rehearsals for The Golden Ass, the third play in the 2002 Theatre Season. I think it’ll be great fun, because we’ll be combining with the White Company to perform this play, and I’m really looking forward to meeting them properly. Usually when the company is split in this way, you never really get to meet the other half of the company until the end of season party, so it’ll be very nice to work with the entire company until the end of the season.

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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