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Warming up - these stretches open the ribcage to improve breathing and speaking.
Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC
The players are given a playing card which they hold, unseen, to their head. Players then move around, reacting to the others according to their status - a higher number means a higher status - but never revealing anyone's number. For example, you might bow to a King or ignore a 2. Finally, the players must line up in number order. Romeo and Juliet is set in a hierarchical society and this game helps actors to understand how characters would interact with each other.
In this game, two teams of four number themselves 1 - 4 and wait on opposite sides of the room. A piece of cloth is placed in the middle of the room. The workshop leader calls out a number 1 - 4 and those people must try to steal the cloth and get back to their side of the room without being touched by their opponent. Often players freeze in the middle of the room and then try to outwit each other. As well as challenging the mind, this game is good for warming up the body!
Each actor chooses and puts on a mask. The leader then sets the actors objectives as they work in pairs. In this photograph, Rupert Evans was asked to steal the magazine from Caroline Wildi. Because the expression on the mask doesn't change, the actors have to use their body to communicate. This is a useful skill for the theatre, where the audience may not be able to see facial expressions.
Rehearsing a servants' scene
Chris Davies rushes across the stage with a cloth. This scene takes place on the morning of Juliet's wedding. Lots of movement and activity suggests the busy atmosphere in the Capulet household. In fact, this moment did not appear in the production! Everyone took part in rehearsing scenes like this even though, in the finished production, they may not be in the scene. This ensemble approach means that the whole team helps create a suitable atmosphere.
Morven Christie in rehearsal
Morven rehearses the scene where Juliet has just taken the poison.
Rehearsing a servants' scene
Sorcha Cusack rehearses activities on the morning of Juliet's wedding. Lots of movement in this scene, with actors bringing props on and off, helps create a busy atmosphere.
Morven Christie and Rupert Evans look through a selection of props - rosary beads and a clothes brush. Often clothes, shoes and props will be used in rehearsals to help actors get into character.
Nicholas Day, Caroline Wildi and Morven Christie rehearse the scene where Romeo has been banished and Juliet is told she will marry Paris.
Using clothes to get in character
Morven Christie (Juliet) and Sorcha Cusack (Nurse) rehearse a scene. Morven is wearing a dress over her clothes to give her a sense of how wearing a dress changes how she might move or behave.
Rupert Evans and Joseph Millson (from the Much Ado About Nothing company who were rehearsing alongside the Romeo and Juliet company) take part in a workshop. In this activity, players walk around and react to someone else in an 'extreme' way, for example: hysteria, despair, anger. Players must arrive at the reaction together. This activity encourages actors to engage with extremes so that they can then 'tone down' the emotions to a realistic level and use them in character. It also gives actors experience in accepting and reacting to decisions made by others. And - because it can get quite silly - it helps shed any inhibitions!
In their chosen mask, actors stand in front of the whole group and are 'interviewed' by the leader. Actors must answers without speaking. Here, Jamie Ballard (from the Much Ado About Nothing company who were rehearsing alongside the Romeo and Juliet company) is communicating his answers through body language.
Some of the actors try out props for use in a servants' scene.
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