Whispers from the Wings

Entrances and exits

October 15, 2013

So we're into the second week of rehearsals for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, and start by continuing our work around the table. It is becoming more evident that not a line is wasted in these plays.

Thomas Moore's cell in the Tower of London.The art of it is that sometimes things sound incidental but therein is planted an idea, a detail, an idiosyncrasy that adds important depth and texture to the story. And without which the narrative would lose its richness.

To the Tower
On Tuesday we had another away day. This time to the Tower of London, where we had a chance to look for more resonances and reminders that help us understand the world we will be creating on stage.

We were very lucky to gain privileged entrance to the Bell Tower, where Thomas More was held before his execution and which is not open to the public. John Ramm, who plays More, confessed to being very affected by the experience.

We saw a suit of jousting armour, made for Henry VIII when he was a young man, and a stunning later one made in the Greenwich Armouries for a man of entirely different build. The contrast brought home the fact that, after his serious accident in the Greenwich tilt yard, Henry's waistline continued to expand by three inches for every year of his life.

Some of us went up to see the site on Tower Hill where George Boleyn, Francis Weston, William Brereton, Henry Norris and Mark Smeaton were dispatched one by one. It must have been merciful to have been the first to step up onto the scaffold.

A first look at costume designs
On Wednesday we saw the designs for our costumes, which are going to be magnificent. The brilliant RSC costume department is going to be severely stretched. These are fabrics and designs one cannot skimp on. They are a superb team, though, and I can't wait to see what they come up with.

Tudor clothes are all about showing off; the costumes we men will be wearing flatter important masculine features like the broadness of shoulders and the size of . . . well, you know what I mean.

Farewell to David Packer
And we finished our script scrutiny and discussion around the table. Oh, and exit David Packer. He has provided a fund of information for us, and his knowledge seems to genuinely have no limits.

He promised to visit us again - if only to retrieve the beautifully illustrated books he has loaned us. There is a growing library of reference material on the table at the back of the room.

My character doesn't enter for quite a while in Wolf Hall so I was blessed with two days off at the end of the week which, as I have performances every evening, were very welcome. I was able to put a bit of effort into things which I haven't had time to attend to for weeks. Like my accounts and my golf swing.

I just have to die of cancer three times this weekend (maybe, if you're in London, you should catch the viciously funny The Lyons before it closes?) and then next week the Duke of Norfolk will hopefully be on his feet.

Top image: Enter with actors. Thomas More's cell.

Bottom image: Exit with axe. The execution site on Tower Hill.

by Nick Day  |  No comments yet


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Teaching Shakespeare