"I've had a lot of time Gloucester over the last couple of days, and how Regan manipulates him and how willing he is to be manipulated. You know, he's such an openhearted, benign man. He absolutely wants to fly the flag for goodness, but by doing that just trips everyone up..."
As rehearsals continue, Sirine looks back on who she and Regan have been spending the most time with.
Time: 6 minutes 58 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Rona Kelly: What relationships are you currently developing, with the other actors and the other characters?
Sirine Saba: At the moment, I'm spending a lot of time with Goneril, because Emily [Bruni] and I are very excited by how different these two women are. [They're] so different in the way that they manage the world, the way that they see the world, and how they interact with other people is so different. And that's really exciting to both of us, that we suddenly go, 'Gosh!' We've looked at the scenes and gone, 'God, they react in such different ways'. And so that's been a very exciting discovery, who these women are as individuals.
And obviously with Kevin [McNally, Lear], trying to work through those scenes with him and really feel our way through them and get a sense of [them]. At the moment, what I'm trying to do is really listen to everything he says, because everything he says obviously is a clue to anything that's happened before and why it goes the way it does. [We're] trying to take as much as possible from the text and make any decisions based on that.
I've had a lot of time Gloucester over the last couple of days, and how Regan manipulates him and how willing he is to be manipulated. You know, he's such an openhearted, benign man. The divine Burt Caesar is playing him, he's just such a sweetheart. He absolutely wants to fly the flag for goodness, but by doing that just trips everyone up.
It's just been interesting to track that energy, that journey of 'I will do anything to not have this power taken away from me, now that I finally have it'. [This is] after thirty, thirty five, however old she is, years of...I should be so lucky...of frustration. But I think Regan's self-preserved well, I feel like she's managed to keep everyone happy, so that she hasn't had to bear the brunt of too much angst.
And then we're coming up to the scenes with Edmund [and] that feeling of being married off to Cornwall...that's a relationship that I'm struggling with, who he is to her, what they are to each other. There's a real sense of distant, unhappy marriage, and yet you don't get a sense of that in scenes. They don't have any scenes together really, they just occasionally throw a line or two to each other. So that's something that I'm still exploring about how they feel: what happens to their relationship when Regan starts to take over in the way that she does, and how Cornwall either decides to let her do it or not. That's something that's still up in the air. But then to suddenly be confronted with Edmund who she obviously feels a very strong sexual attraction to, and is finally being allowed to express that...I mean, I don't think she does initially, because it's a sudden, violent and quite frightening feeling if you've never been allowed to. But I think when suddenly you're presented with a man who you're definitely getting the right signals from and you are attracted to them as well, that frenzy comes from [it]. Because they do become obsessed with him by the end, they absolutely do. And that just comes from never having been allowed to express that side of your nature [because of this] arranged marriage. Not really being allowed to call any shots in that marriage. And then suddenly, you're more free, you're more powerful and there's the gorgeous man who's definitely giving off some signals that he's interested.
But the whole Edmund story slightly comes out of nowhere, so that's something that we'll need to track. Because suddenly in part two, they've got these amorous scenes with Edmund. Certainly for Regan, it comes out of nowhere and actually for Goneril too. Suddenly, they're all having relationships with Edmund. But it's not tracked, it just suddenly happens. So I suppose you just take every encounter with him and see what happens (even if you don't have any lines). You just see how it feels to have him in the room.
RK: It's weird that. Like you say, she has so much freedom now: freedom to love, freedom to rule. But that control is just so instilled in her, that she might even be controlling herself.
SS: That's right, that's right. And that's what I'm slightly struggling with at the moment: do you suddenly go pop and just completely go? Or does it happen in stages? And I think at the moment in those early scenes, she's still reasoning, flattering, engaging, she doesn't go full leather until Kent is put in the stocks. And I think that's when she suddenly goes, 'Hey, I'm gonna call the shots here!' And then even with that scene with Lear, she's still seducing him into making the right decision, he doesn't listen and by the end, washes her hands of him...I think!
RK: Well, they start to kind of barter: a train of thirty, a train of six, and then it just goes to, 'No [none]'.
SS: Well, there's a plan, Emily and I feel strongly that there's a plan at the top of the scene. She's written me this letter and this is what we need to do. And then he sort of starts to wobble, we feel like he's starting to wobble by the end. So we go, 'Okay, here we go. He's going to go'. And Goneril goes, 'What about twenty five?' And he still doesn't listen and it's infuriating, because he's given us all this power but he won't let us have it. 'No, no, no, no. I'm going to stay with you and I'm going to stay with all these knights, because you're not quite going to be able to have the power that you think you're going to have'. No, enough already!
RK: I guess finally, what's been your favourite moment from rehearsals so far?
SS: ...that's a really difficult question! I can't answer it! I am not there yet. It's interesting, everything feels so exploratory and raw at the moment that there hasn't been a stand out yet, not for me anyway. I'm taking it each day as it comes and just trying to be as present and as open as possible. And I think what happens then is that you don't go, 'Oh, I love this!' You just kind of go, 'Oh, hang on.. I don't know if I love this, because I just have to see how I'm feeling about everything'.
RK: Yes. The first time you play something, it's like, 'Oh yes!' But then you might go back to it in a few days and go, 'Oh...'
SS: Yes, it feels too early to say that! Sorry!
RK: That's okay! The next time that we catch up with you, I'm sure you'll have had lots of favourite moments by then which you can share with us.
RK: So thank you for joining us today. It's brill!
SS: Thank you!