Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 5

This is the fifth bulletin from the Nurse (Penny Layden). It covers Penny’s costume, her work on key scenes and how she feels about the upcoming tech week.

Transcript of Podcast

Putting the Play Together

We’ve been doing a lot more runs of the whole show this week. It’s great seeing what everyone else has been doing – it’s like finally being involved in the secret! It’s amazing how much humour there is in the play, especially in the first half. It’s lovely seeing what all these inventive people are doing. The whole play is such a rollercoaster and you don’t really understand that whole journey when you’re rehearsing in isolation, because your scenes are out of context, so to put them all together is quite amazing actually. I watched a fight rehearsal for the first time this week before we did the complete run-through. The fight when Mercutio dies is just so sad – it’s heart-breaking. Then when Tybalt comes back and fights Romeo, I wept! It’s so brutal and ugly, but fantastic. I think the audience are going to go wild; the fights are really extraordinary. I just love this play so much, I love hearing it and watching it. Of course it’s a sad play, a tragedy, but the balcony scene makes me cry because it’s so beautiful. Now I’ve just got to trust what I’m doing. We had three days off recently and when we came back it felt a bit scary after being away. We were all trying too hard. Dominic [Dromgoole, director] had told us to make sure we hit our first notes, but loads of us came off after the interval feeling that we had missed our first notes and were all over the place.

After that run, Dominic said something really great about just making sure we are talking to each other. It’s easy to try to be grand or funny, but it should actually be about the language, just talking to each other onstage and making it true.

Key Scene: Betraying Juliet

I think most of the Nurse’s scenes are key, but the scene when she ‘betrays’ Juliet is very important. She changes her tune and suddenly says, “You should marry Paris”, which is a big thing for their relationship, and it ultimately causes a rift. That is quite a reactive scene for me since I don’t really say very much; I have a little intervention when Capulet is having a go at his daughter and I try to step in, but for the majority of that scene I’m listening. I have a resolution at the end, which Juliet asks for, even though I don’t say what she wants me to say. But you can’t judge the Nurse’s reaction in that scene without understanding her status and position; she might lose her job. She has to get in line with Capulet.


My costume is great, although I look like a barrel, or like a pea on a big drum! There’s lots and lots of cloth: it’s quite high-necked, with puffy sleeves and a little cap. I’m going to have a hair piece as well to make my bun bigger. I also get to put on an extra coat for the scene when I’m looking for Romeo and the boys are horrible to me. The entrance is going to be great, they have this line: “a sail, a sail” and I actually look like a boat in this enormous coat. I’m going to look ridiculous! I would imagine we get to wear costumes for about a week before the show starts. It will help because the top of it is boned, so it will help my posture. Also, I’ve got a tendency to put my hands on my hips, but actually in this costume my dress comes in at the waist, so it is going to change things in a helpful way. It helps the shift from contemporary to Renaissance too. Usually I live in sloppy jeans, so it’s great to be in a skirt for a performance. Just having all that cloth around you changes the way I move.

Anticipating Tech Week

I’m really looking forward to tech week, because we’ve not had much time on the stage so far. We had a voice session with Jan and a whole movement session with Glynn, but that was right at the beginning, it feels like a hundred years ago, but it’s gone so quickly at the same time. So it’ll be great to get into the space.

These comments are the actor's thoughts and ideas about the part as he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsals progress.

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