Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In his second blog post, David discusses the experience of rehearsing one play while performing in another.

Transcript of Podcast

Rehearsing The Comedy of Errors while performing Titus Andronicus

Equity [the British Actors’ Union] regulations state we only have 40 hours contact time, but there is an agreement that we can have some weeks nominated as 46 or 48 hours by the management, and these will be balanced out by 32 or 34 hour weeks later on in the season. Within those constraints we can rehearse whenever we are not on stage provided that we have at least an eleven and a half hour break between finishing a show and starting a rehearsal – so if we finish at half past ten the rehearsal can’t start until ten the next morning. We are also only allowed ten hour days, so if we were to start at ten o’clock on the morning we have to be finished by eight o’clock that evening. So logistically it is very, very hard. So next week with only three Titus performances it will be much easier.

It has all been full company work so far. For the last two weeks we have been sat round the table, going through the play line by line, clarifying any bits which aren’t immediately obvious. This is a bit unusual, but I think Chris [Luscombe, the director of The Comedy of Errors] saw that we had two weeks with a lot of Titus shows and thought the best way to use the two weeks was to be sedentary. We aren’t up on our feet at all, we are sat round the table, it isn’t energetic, quite relaxed. Because of the nature of the play – it is a farce – it is quite useful that everybody knows what happens at all times. So it is unusual, but I think it has been a perfect use of the last two weeks.

Another good thing about the last two weeks is that because we have just been sat round talking about the play an awful lot, come Monday when we actually get up on our feet, we are going to be raring to go. We are embracing the fact that it is a comedy, and a wonderful, self-contained play. This business of rehearsing one play and performing another doesn’t happen much these days. There are a couple of company members who did their time in the old provincial rep system, when that was the way you usually worked, and it has been good hearing their stories about it. Those of us of my generation, who haven’t grown up with that system, lament the loss of it.

At the moment I’m just playing the Duke, but that might change. There are a couple of scenes which Chris wants to populate with townsfolk. I can see that it might be tricky for the Duke to be one of those people, but I’m sure there will be ways of getting round that if another body is required. You could think that these two plays are unusual plays to pair together for one company, but the more we go on I think the more you see that we couldn’t have a better group of actors to do the two plays – ying and yang or whatever way you want to look at it, they really do balance perfectly. I think we are all just thrilled after Titus, which we have all really invested in, to be tackling something so different.

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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