Week by Week: Week 2

This week we have been taking a closer look at the actors in rehearsal. Listen to them talking about their parts in their Character Profiles or check out our behind-the-scene photos (below) of the games and exercises that the actors do to get their minds and bodies ready to rehearse.

Also, check out some of the great posters that have been designed for the play in the ‘Results from last week’.


Results from last week

A creative brief is given to each member of the creative team working on the Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project. It is intended to help them structure their ideas and keep a focus on the director's intended vision for the production. Check out the results from last week's marketing brief...

Backstage Blog

Friday 15th February 6.27pm

Get thee to bed and rest, for thou hast need.

It’s the end of the week and I’m exhausted.  We’ve been rehearsing the party again today and it’s really taken its toll on my limbs.

As well as having brain-ache from trying to remember combinations of small jumps (based on ‘dance-mat’ sequences) I can feel the whole morning’s rehearsal in my calf muscles. It won’t actually be too bad when we perform it in the play itself as we’ll only have to do it once in each show, but repeating it over and over again is a very different matter. 

Having said that, it’s really starting to come together now and I’m sure when we know it well it will be great fun to perform.

From The Rehearsal Room

Thursday 14th February 5.53pm

This morning we had a photographer in the rehearsal room with us taking pictures of us all warming-up and leaping around.

After the warm up we looked at some scenes in the Capulet house, and it felt great to start piecing the family relationships together, or at least trying out some different ideas while working towards that. I’m intrigued by the Lady Capulet/Juliet relationship: the detail and history of this mother/daughter relationship is full of possibilities but they are not necessarily something we find familiar today.  If we imagine a ‘mother’ today, there are of course lots of things this could mean, but I do think there’s a coolness in their relationship that a modern audience finds odd, particularly as they are also shown the Nurse who has a motherly relationship with Juliet.

I’ve also been imagining what Lady Capulet’s life has been like. She tells us she had already given birth to (or perhaps was pregnant with) Juliet at the age of 13, so she must have been married before that. That means she must be between 25 and 27 years old, and have been living with Lord Capulet for half of her life.  Much of the action we see for her is at home and consists of going to speak to Juliet at Lord Capulet’s request.  When she sees Juliet she most commonly finds her with the Nurse. I think it sounds like a rather lonely life.

Perhaps I’m just over-tired.  It might seem more cheerful in the morning…

From The Rehearsal Room

Wednesday 13th February 6.23pm

Today the cast had a fight! Well they learnt one anyway.

There are a few fight scenes in the play and they have to be choreographed and learnt in the same way as a dance. As such we have worked with Kev McCurdy a stage combat choreographer. Before the actors can play the fights at performance pace there is a great amount of time and care taken to choreograph the moves, both to work out a clear story and to play the fight safely. Safety is very important in stage fights. The sequence of moves is repeated and refined again and again, as you might with a complicated dance routine, to make sure the punches, kicks and use of weapons look realistic but also remain controlled and safe at all times. Perfecting fights for the Globe has an added complication: as there will be audience on all sides (more or less), keeping the moves close enough to look real, but distant enough to be safe for the actors, is a real skill. Sadly, I don’t actually get to fight so I haven’t been called for those rehearsals. Although there was a slight feeling of being left out of all the fun, it was brilliant to come in later and see what the actors in the fights have been working on. This is especially true when Kev says, “now with acting intention” which means the fights are played with a similar intensity to performance: fast and furious.

From The Rehearsal Room

Tuesday 12th February 5.29pm

Now that all the elements of our production have been set in motion our rehearsal calls are more structured, so full-company calls are reserved for music and dance sessions. The rest of our calls are focussed on individual scenes. Today we carried on rehearsing the scenes. We spent a few hours on each scene off-book (that means with the lines learnt). We are always up on our feet, trying out different things to see how the scenes might play out in the production. Nothing is really 'fixed': our director very rarely tells us where to come in, where to stand, when to move or how to say a line, it's more likely that he'll let us try a few things out and then settle on the option that works best.

Before we jump into performing the scene we have one more technical exercise to perform. The scenes are split into sections (sometimes called units) which are marked by events that change the action in the scene. This is most commonly when a character enters or leaves the stage (or dies). We gave each section a title (this title being different for each of the characters involved) describing what the story is for that character; for Lady Capulet one section of the brawl scene is "Lady Capulet sees her cousin Tybalt dead and demands revenge". We then stated what our characters 'want' for that section, so for that same section Lady Capulet's is "wants revenge". These 'wants' can be changed as we make new discoveries working through the scenes and learn more about what's happening between characters. This helps to highlight the affiliations between characters and conflicts within the action.

From The Rehearsal Room

Monday 11th February, 1.12pm

Who began this bloody fray?

It's lunch time and we have just finished blocking the party scene Blocking is the positioning of the actors on the stage. We had to block it around the dance routine that we’ve started to learn. Alex (our composer) has been in the room taking notes so that he can compose the right amount of music for the party sequence. This afternoon I am continuing to work through the text in the rehearsal room, learning lines and recapping dances.

From The Rehearsal Room