Getting the thrust
October 23, 2013
We're learning how to move the play around the thrust stage of the Swan Theatre. Any furniture we might use in the fast moving scenes would have to be carried on and then taken off, so it's best avoided wherever possible. Also, as you probably know, we have to keep the actors moving on a stage that is open on three sides so that they all have the best chance of being seen and heard.
We are finding a convention and a stage language for the plays so that sometimes when we enter a room, for instance, we don't always have to enter with the naturalistic formal court protocol that would have prevailed at the time, but can enter the stage in a sort of theatrical cut of place and time. It makes things fast and fluid so that the thrust of the narrative is clear.
Getting the feel
I always like to rehearse in clothes that approximate the feel of what will be my costume. If it's a jacket and tie role, then I have to rehearse in a jacket and tie. The shoes are important, too; they say that Olivier always maintained he started with the shoes. Clearly, shoes dictate how you stand and move, so they are a first thing for me as well.
We've been sent a whole load of rehearsal costumes through which we can all pick to find something that feels right.
For my character, the Duke of Norfolk, there are frequent references in the book and script to the holy relics he wears about his person, so I've been looking online for some relic and mourning lockets that I can use in rehearsals.
Perhaps holy relics are a depressed market nowadays because they appear to be remarkably cheap. I could have bought a piece of the true cross last night for less than thirty pounds.
It's a bit like the souvenirs apparently carved from the wood of Shakespeare's mulberry tree that were so popular in the nineteenth century. More wood than a wood would supply!
Image: Nick Boulton achieves his lifetime ambition: spear carrying at the Royal Shakespeare Company!
by Nick Day
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