Week by Week: Week 8

In this final week of the project you can see more photos taken from the production of Romeo and Juliet.

And be sure to check out the media tab in the character profiles for even MORE photos!


Results from last week

Many theatre productions are reviewed by members of the press, who attend a performance and comment on the creative elements that come together on stage during a performance. Check out the results from last week's reviewing brief that was provided by theatre critic, Lyn Gardner...

Backstage Blog

Friday 5th April 9.27pm

I think it is worth mentioning the offstage team that worked on the play. The company of actors and musicians are the face of the production: the part that you see. But the backstage work - all the creative and technical team that went on this adventure together - should also be acknowledged. This extensive group includes the team of people in the United Arab Emirates who prepared for our visit and made us feel so welcome when we were far away from home, the small army of people at the Globe Theatre who kept things going while we were away and then enabled the Globe performances to run like clockwork once we got back to London. It also includes the stage management team, the wardrobe department, the designer, the composer, the director, producer, the education department that supported the production with workshops, the people who made this website, the front of house and box office teams that organised and ticketed the seating, the volunteer ushers who gave their time to help those in the audience and… well, I’m sure there are more beyond that. The point is: although you may not see all these people, I think it’s always worth remembering all the elements that go into making a production of a play. Theatre really is a team sport: you just can’t play on your own. So, thank you to everyone who took part including, of course, the last and most important ingredient: you, the audience.

From The Rehearsal Room

Thursday 4th April 12.36pm

We’ve now finished all our performances of Romeo and Juliet, but I thought it would be good to just have a brief look back at the production as a whole to see if there are any observations I could share with you.

When I started this project I was interested in trying something new with Lady Capulet, as I’d played the character before in another production. Though, at the time, I didn’t know what that something ‘new’ might be, as I wasn’t wholly sure of what our production’s Verona would be like, or what ideas Bill Buckhurst (the director) and the other actors might have for building the Capulet family.

So, I just looked at the text and listened to the way other characters spoke to (and about) Lady Capulet. Quite quickly it seemed to me that her role in the household, and perhaps in society, was to be obedient and passive. She is told where to go and what to do by Capulet, mostly to act as a sort of go-between for Capulet and Juliet. Of course, this may only be true in the context of the action of the play (i.e. a recent development owing to the potential marriage to Paris). But, after all, that is the only evidence we have to go on. Also, this may not be true in other productions, as some of her more forceful lines - calling for revenge for Tybalt’s death and mocking Capulet’s wish to fight - were cut from our performance text. So, I could only look at what was left behind.

During rehearsals, I was also struck by the fact that she is almost always called by her role in relation to other people: mother, wife, lady. So, her role in the household seems quite functional. I was also really interested in her age, both in terms of what this meant for her relationship with Juliet (they are only 13 years apart) but also her relationship with Capulet, as she has been his wife for almost half of her life. She has, essentially, been in his household for all of her adult life.

What came out of these thoughts was a woman who could perhaps be something of a ‘trophy’ wife, and a mother in name but not necessarily in action. Someone who did as she was told, who never spoke out of turn but, in doing so, cut herself off from her daughter. This passive, obedient behaviour - particularly in response to her husband’s insistence in Act 3 scene 5 that he will ‘not be forsworn’ - leads her to abandon Juliet to her fate, where there are no solutions but ‘the borrowed likeness of shrunk death’, or death itself.

Some people who saw the production read this as an ‘abusive’ relationship between Lady Capulet and Capulet. But that was never actively discussed in rehearsals. I think perhaps they are right, when observed with our modern-day understanding of a marriage. But this is such an unusual relationship as, rather than a traditional marriage of equals, Lady Capulet is living with a sort of husband-father-employer. I think the only way to make that dysfunction clear is to make the relationship feel ‘odd’ and uncomfortable to the modern audience member.

The Prince was a wholly different challenge. Appearing only three times in this version of play, the challenge was to make her a figure of authority - whose words had ultimate power in our version of Verona - but also someone who cared about the outcome of the conflict between the families. The role also had a more technical challenge attached, which was to make her sufficiently different from Lady Capulet, while also making the physical change simple enough to execute in the quickest of quick-changes at the end of Act 3 scene 1. This was done with the help of costume and the wardrobe team backstage who, for every performance, helped me to transform from one character to the other in as fast a time as we were able.

From The Rehearsal Room

Wednesday 27th March 10.12am

Apart from the temperature, I don't think our production has changed in any significant way since being at the Globe. I say 'I don't think' as I don't really know. It's actually incredibly hard to honestly tell from inside the production. I think, if anything, our thoughts and the delivery of the text has become slightly quicker, as the Globe space allows for that; and our interaction with the audience has become more confident as we have become more comfortable playing on a larger scale, opening up to the Globe space and its audience.

The audiences are worth mentioning, as they are such an enormous part of our work on this project, and indeed for most plays made for the Globe theatre. I've been amazed at the responses we've had while playing this production. I think the audience 'soundtrack' has been different for almost every show we have performed so far. In fact more so, I think, than for any other show I have performed at the Globe: the audience response has varied (sometimes dramatically) from day to day, which in some ways is really exciting as we never know what the show is going to be like from one day to the next. Some days, a particular moment in the play will get a gasp, another day a laugh, sometimes several people will say something in response to a question, another day we'll hear nothing at all. I can't really account for it. Perhaps it's just that the show is really open, allowing the audience to respond how they choose. I hope that's the case. It might just be that on some days the audience has been responding to the weather, making their responses as varied in temperature as a London March.

From The Rehearsal Room

Monday 25th March 10.12am

When I said, at the very start of this blog, that this was a job of extremes, it turns out I was right. In fact, at the time I wrote that I don't think I could have predicted how extreme this job would be.

We only have one week of performances left and our time at the Globe so far has straddled one of the coldest Marches in 50 years. This means that since returning from the heat and sun of the Middle East, we have performed in wind, rain, sleet, hail and snow and the weather forecast doesn't look like it will be getting any closer to Spring before we finish. I should probably say, in fact, that it's actually our audience in the yard that has had to watch us in those weather conditions as we, at least, have the canopy (or the 'Heavens') to keep most of the stage dry. Despite that, there are still a few parts of the stage that get wet, so if we have to perform on those areas (especially to fall, lie dead on the stage or even go without shoes as part of the action) it can feel pretty cold and uncomfortable. But actually, surprisingly, during most of the action of the play it hasn't felt too bad, as there is so much running around to be done that we seem to keep ourselves fairly warm. Backstage is a different story. Backstage is pretty cold. Our brilliant dressers and stage management team have layers and layers of clothes on to keep warm. There are also a few little heaters in the tiring house where we all huddle between scenes, trying to change costumes as quickly as possible, attempting to dry off or heat up before we are next on stage.

We also have an area backstage called the Green Room where we can escape if we have more time, which is fully indoors and much warmer. There is a Green Room in most theatres, a place where the actors and backstage team can go between scenes or at the interval, and it's just somewhere (usually painted green) to have a cup of tea and a sit down in a comfy chair. At the Globe though it's slightly different as most of the staff of the theatre building also use the Green Room as a break-out space so it's a really busy, friendly space. It does make for some surreal moments though: there have been times when Globe staff in 'normal' clothes have been sitting around the table have a meeting or reading their books quietly and we will burst in, dressed in our party outfits or in funeral garb chatting about what just happened on stage, or sharing things we have heard from the audience. It always seems right to me that all sides of the theatre's work come together in one room so that all our work overlaps in one space. Although we have probably ruined a few tea breaks along the way.

From The Rehearsal Room