Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 4

This is Laura's fourth blog entry for the 2005 production of Pericles in which she talks more about her character, as well as tech week and the play as a whole.

Transcript of Podcast

Making it real

We’re now beginning technical rehearsals and it's been quite a hard week. I had a bit of a crisis in confidence when we ran the play towards the end of last week; I felt I didn’t know what I was doing in the middle section of the play (the section where Marina's in the brothel). I’m finding it difficult to access the kind of complete fear that Marina must feel in that situation. I got the book I mentioned last time: I Choose to Live by Sabine Dardenne. Sabine was kidnapped in Belgium aged 12 and spent three months in captivity with a paedophile. I’ve been reading the descriptions of when she was first abducted to try and get a sense of the psychology of the situation. That's helping me to find real parallels with what happened to Marina: in her first scene, she's kidnapped by pirates… it happens so quickly and a sack is put over her head. Sabine was snatched as she rode her bike down the street. She describes the physical manifestations of the fear so vividly: “I suppose that my yelling was just instinct – a reflex action until fear began to constrict my throat and I thought I was suffocating.” She writes that it was so sudden and so shocking that it knocked her “utterly sideways”. And then: “I began to retch… I began to cry from sheer anger… I just cried and cried, by now terrified out of my wits… I pretended to go to sleep… my stomach was churning.” She describes the fear as the kind that “makes you think you’re going to pee in your pants because you’re shaking so much.” Sabine says she felt as if she was made of glass and at any moment could break in two. Also “I couldn’t seem to swallow” – as if something was stuck in her throat – and she could feel herself “panting like a dog”. When I’m anxious, I get a real constriction in my throat which makes it hard to breathe…I can relate to that, but to make such an extreme situation as real as possible in my head – that's very difficult.

Start of technical rehearsals

Although I’m still working on Marina, we’re into the next phase of rehearsals: tech week. We’ve moved from Three Mills Studios to the Globe stage and time seems to be flying! I’m in the ensemble for the first half of the play, so we create the storms and the different places that Pericles visits – there are lots of entrances and exits to be worked out, lots of music cues and choreography and a million other things that will make the show. At the moment, I feel I haven’t got a clue how I’m going to play the space! The audience will be so present – we can see and interact with everybody. So that's all very scary but we’ve got time… I’ve got to keep reminding myself that there's no rush. Once the play opens, there will be two weeks of Previews when we’ll rehearse during the day before evening performances. There will be lots of changes during that time, but I want to be happy with what I’m doing as soon as we get an audience!

Part of the whole

As we run the play more and more, I’m realising where Marina's story fits in. The first half of the play focuses on Pericles and his grief; the storms and all the bad things that happen to him. He breaks down under that weight and stops speaking. The second half is about Marina's journey and her suffering. When Marina and Pericles meet, she says to him:

She speaks,
My lord, that, may be, hath endur’d a grief
Might equal yours, if both were justly weigh’d.

I think the play is very much a ‘weighing up’ of their different responses to suffering. Marina chooses to live in each ‘live-or-die’ situation; from a place of extreme fear and vulnerability, she comes through and says something incredibly brave. In the brothel she says to Lysimachus:

If you were born to honour, show it now;
If put upon you, make the judgement good
That thought you worthy of it

To be so young and to have that kind of strength is amazing. One of her first lines is ‘This world to me is like a lasting storm’ [IV.i] and that just emphasises the parallels between Marina and Pericles: the storms batter Pericles in the first half, but Marina's storm is the journey she has to go through after Leonine attempts to murder her and pirates take her to the brothel. She comes out on the other side without breaking down. Marina and Pericles have both experienced grief and suffering; the structure of the play clearly balances them. Running the play helped me get a sense of that and what Marina's story means in the context of the whole.

Reunion with Pericles

I still think ‘How do I even begin?’ with the reunion scene. There's so much going on and I feel I haven’t even grasped half of it! For Marina, Pericles is basically a patient; in the time since she escaped the brothel, she has been put in a position where people turn to her as some kind of refuge and she seems to do good for them – like a healer. Pericles is just somebody who is not speaking. But I think she also has to feel an instinctive connection… if someone had never seen their father and then met him by chance, you would hope there would be some kind of connection. Marina is about to leave Pericles alone – ‘Alright, it's not working’ – but something makes her stop:

I will desist,
But there is something glows upon my cheek,
And whispers in mine ear, “Go not till he speak.”

So there is a kind of connection. When he does speak, it's obvious that he's a very different kind of patient: what he's interested in is her. That puts Marina in a strange position too, because she hasn’t ever talked about herself before. Lysimachus says that whenever they asked Marina about her past, she would ‘sit still and weep’ [V.i] It's a hard thing for her to talk about. But when this man speaks for the first time in months, he starts firing questions at her ‘What about you? Where are you from?’ It's a bizarre meeting and she's put off balance. When they each realise who the other person is, the amount of happiness is overwhelming! That reunion is another thing I can’t really comprehend… to be so happy that sheer emotion takes over. From then on, the happiness snowballs… you’ve met your dad and now you have to meet your mum! Marina has one line in the scene where the family reunion is completed [V.iii] and Pericles finds Thaisa. Shakespeare puts things in such a wonderful way that characters seem to find the words to express extreme feelings, but I think in that scene it's wonderful that Marina doesn’t speak. All she can say is ‘My heart leaps to be gone into my mother's bosom’ and that's enough. Silence says a lot too – it's not an accident when Shakespeare keeps someone silent.

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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