Re-imagining Cardenio

Greg Doran

This blog is the story of Greg Doran's quest to understand what might have happened to Shakespeare's lost play, and to test the theatrical possibilities of Cardenio in the crucible of the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Old St. Pancras church

April 4, 2011
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One of the downsides of cross casting is that sometimes, if the other production you are rehearsing opposite calls full company, you can't rehearse anything at all. This afternoon was one such time. So I headed home from Clapham, and decided to make a detour at King's Cross. I wanted to visit St Pancras Old Church behind the railway station. It was here on September 20th 1744 that Lewis Theobald was buried.

by Greg Doran  |  4 comments  |  Read this entry

Prologues and epilogues

March 31, 2011

In rehearsal we laugh at what sort of a prologue and epilogue we would write today, but in a crowded tube train on the Victoria Line on the way home, I find myself pondering the opportunity...

by Greg Doran  |  1 comment  |  Read this entry

Middle Temple Hall

March 30, 2011
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We have to have made sufficient investment in each character to allow the audience to await the unravelling with eager anticipation. We have to make the audience experience, however unlikely the circumstances, a balance between the fantastic and the plausible - what Coleridge called 'the willing suspension of disbelief'. And we must do that by infusing these 'shadows of imagination' with genuine life-blood.

by Greg Doran  |  1 comment  |  Read this entry

Ash Wednesday

March 21, 2011
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Last Thursday morning, the full company had a session together. I asked John Barton to join me for this time, and we worked on a chorus from Henry V and individual sonnets.

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Lace and rhetoric

March 18, 2011
Pippa Alex rehearsal thumbnail

Outside of the fiesta (see previous post), rehearsals continue at a more sober, steady pace. In one of the fitting rooms, Dorotea (Pippa Nixon), is being taught lace making, by local expert, Marion Stubbings. In Cervantes' novel, Dorotea spends her free time lace-making and playing on the harp.

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Pancake Tuesday

March 18, 2011
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We had a good session on the fiesta last week. Cervantes says that in order to win Dorotea's affection Fernando bribed the servants, and paid for music and dancing in the village every night, so we are staging this in the production.

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Stage shepherds can be hard to do

March 18, 2011
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We try and imagine what these shepherds might look and sound like. I can hear the sheep bells, I can imagine the dogs barking, and the shepherds' cries echoing in the mountains, but what about their song?

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Horsemanship 2

March 9, 2011

After our trip to Knightsbridge, to the barracks of the Household Cavalry, we are alert to every reference to horses and horsemanship in the play.

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Horsemanship in Cardenio 1

March 8, 2011
alex helmet thumbnail

A visit to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment this morning. While Mike Ashcroft, our choreographer, drills the rest of the company in a bit of movement work, and Paul Englishby teaches the motet which opens the play, I take Olly Rix and Alex Hassell (playing Cardenio and Fernando, respectively) to the Hyde Park Barracks.

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Week four already

February 25, 2011
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It seems almost unbelievable, but we are starting our fourth week of rehearsals already. In the Cardenio rehearsal room, we are still mostly sitting around the table. Simon Callow in his book Being an Actor, describes this process beautifully, as we try to feel the play's aura, 'almost its force field.' It is a bit like sitting round a ouija board. The research we do is like lobbing a pebble into the collective pool of our unconscious and watching the ripples. Some research will be useful, some not so.

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