Whispers from the Wings

Staging Henry IV Part I

April 7, 2014

The first week of Stratford had past and there was something like 26 left. If the first week was anything to go by then the next few months had some incredible experiences in the waiting. And a tonne of work too.

On our first morning we did a group warm up on the stage of the Courtyard Theatre. It was the RSC's main space during the refurbishment of the RST.

My eyes immediately went to the dress circle and spied a lonely red seat amongst the mass of his identical family surrounding him. I had sat in that chair six years ago during a school trip and watched David Tennant's Hamlet. I was now warming up on the same stage I had looked at with wonder a few years ago and working with the same director of that show and indeed some of the same cast too. Mondays don't get better than that.

The other revelations of the week continued to come thick and fast.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is epic. No question. Then you stage Henry IV in it and it becomes even more epic. Add the unbelievable costumes, beautiful music and amazing set and you're off the scale. Come opening night when a thousand odd people come to see the play I think my heart will be beating to some inhuman iambic pentameter.

Henry IV Part I production shot

Tech week always gives you quite a bit of time to observe. You suddenly see the other side of theatre that no one ever gets to see. The army of technicians, dressers, prop makers, wig makers, costume mistresses and stage managers. It's like watching a Formula One pit stop. Everyone swoops in, does their job and disappears, and the machine races on. You are reminded how much work, from so many different people, is put into the show. It's one huge family, and I'm pretty chuffed to be part of it.

by Martin Bassindale  |  No comments yet


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