Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 6

This is David's sixth blog entry for the 2006 production of Titus Andronicus, where he talks about the technical rehearsal.

Transcript of Podcast

Technical rehearsal

This week has been the technical rehearsal. The purpose of this week is to put into the show all the things we can’t do in the rehearsal room, like the music, and any technical things which involve stage machinery, like the trap. There is a point in the show where a couple of people get hung upside down so we’ve been working on that. At the Globe there is no lighting or recorded sound effects (they are all created live by the musicians), so getting the music cues sorted out is very important. It also clarifies entries and exits. It has become quite a complicated show technically. There are various things which happen on stage which are quite difficult to achieve – cutting off a hand and various murders. They require quite a lot of technical work to make them believable on stage.

There are a couple of times when we perform burials on stage which is quite tricky for me. In one it is a couple of coffins and the other a lifeless body. It is quite tricky to get them down into the trap. There is a trap door in the stage – it isn’t enormous and when you are trying to lift an actor playing dead down into a space, the floor of which is some five or six foot below the level of the stage, it is difficult. We don’t want to drop him.

Having the music really enhances what we have been doing in rehearsal. The music is there to support and to create further atmosphere. Personally it has been useful when there are entrances and exits preceding or following heightened scenes, and when you come on or go off accompanied by big rousing drums and trumpets it helps me as an actor, as well as helping the audience.

Techs are a funny time for the development of the performance. During the previous five weeks we have built up a lot of knowledge, and we have been working very closely with the play and the text. Then tech week is more about the technical aspects so you leave the acting and the text side of it behind a bit. You can almost feel as if you are going further away from the play, while in some respects – the music and the technical side – you are really approaching it for the first time. It does give you time to put what you have been doing in the rehearsal room into the context of the theatre. It clarifies a lot of what you have been doing in the rehearsal room. A lot of the things you have been doing in the rehearsal room won’t work in the theatre, and you can’t anticipate those things. You can just do your best in rehearsal and hope it will work – if it doesn’t, you adjust for the space you find yourself in. That has happened with Lucius's dynamism. I have to bring that out because of the nature of the space and the design of the theatre. I hope there will be big developments when we move into dress rehearsal and the previews.

It would be wrong to try to second guess an audience reaction, but I have thought about the possible audience reactions a little bit. I’ve wondered how the audience will react to the number of killings and the gruesome goings on. I think a lot more humour will come out of the play when we get it in front of an audience. I think that the Globe itself, as a space, brings humour out. Because of the shared light people feel more able to react. If you turn the light out on somebody it has a psychological effect – they aren’t going to be as expressive as they would be.


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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