Week 1 Blog
‘Speak the speech...’
Blimey. This is a bonkers play. We’re a few days into rehearsals now and the layers are just starting to unravel. Once I knew I was going to be involved in this production I took my copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works down from the shelf and gave The Taming of the Shrew a proper read through. And I’ll be completely honest, I found it really hard work. I was confused about the opening – a strange framing device where an elaborate prank is played on a local drunk named Christopher Sly – and I was baffled by the fact that the whole story is actually a play within a play.
Half the characters being in disguise and pretending to be people they’re not doesn’t make things any clearer, and nor does the fact that pretty much every male character’s name ends in ‘io’ – Petruchio, Hortensio, Lucentio, etc... What was Shakespeare thinking?! So I arrived at the rehearsal room on day one pretty nervous and worried that I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.
But then, as is customary on the first day of rehearsals for pretty much any show, the cast read the play through out loud together. And it made sense. Crystal clear. The characters came alive, the plot cracked along at a good pace and lots of the jokes were even funny. It reminded me that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays to be read by someone sat in a room by themselves trying to hear all the character’s voices in their head. He wrote them to be performed, or at the very least spoken out loud by a group of people. I remember when I was studying for my GCSEs, Measure for Measure was a set text for my English class and we were made to read scenes at home on our own and then come in to the next class ready to discuss what we’d read. A sure-fire way to kill the enjoyment and understanding of any of Shakespeare’s plays, in my opinion.
If anyone reading this is studying Shakespeare as part of a GCSE, A-Level, or even university syllabus, then the best advice I can give is to get a bunch of people together and speak the words out loud together. Pick parts. Muck about with it. Heck, even stand up and move around if the vibe takes you. And as Hamlet says in his advice to the players – ‘Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue’ – i.e., get on with it! Don’t waste your time chatting about it; speak the words out loud and the meaning will be apparent.
By Pieter Lawman (Assistant Director)
The first week continues...
Read through done, the company were treated to a glimpse of what Michael, the designer of the show, has in store for the stage. I won’t give anything away here for fear of ruining the surprise for those of you coming to see the show, but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Much of the next couple of days was given over to picking apart the scenes in a little more depth to make sure all the company know exactly what’s going on. What their character’s wants and needs are, how each of them feel about each other in any given scene, etc. All essential stuff for the actors and director to know in order to play the scenes properly once they get up on their feet. Find our more about the scenes and characters to follow in what the actors have been doing.
This morning I was treated to a masterclass in drunk acting by Alex Gaumond (playing Petruchio/Christopher Sly). After watching some YouTube videos and having a short session with our Movement Director Sian on the physicality of drunkenness, he improvised a scene as if wandering through a packed audience at the Globe. A very unnerving thing to watch. Especially when he came up to me and, nose-to-nose, demanded to know the exact whereabouts of his newly betrothed wife. Swigging from a bottle of booze (Evian) the whole time. All will become clear, I promise.
I’ll leave you there for now. Check back in next week when I’ll have more details of how rehearsals are progressing.
By Pieter Lawman (Assistant Director)
NEW BRIEF AVAILABLE – Design a Poster
A creative brief is given to each member of the creative team. The brief is intended to focus on the director's intended vision for the production. Why not be creative yourself by designing your own poster using our creative brief.
When a play is planned by a theatre they need to prepare an eye-catching poster. Download the early versions on the right to look at how the design changed. One of the posters has been annotated to show the links between the design and the themes of the play.
Here are our top tips to think about when designing a poster:
1. Make it stand out so that it immediately grabs the attention of the viewer.
2. Be as bold and creative as possible so that it is different to the competition.
3. Make sure that all the information can be read clearly and that no important details about dates or times are lost.
4. Think about who the poster is aimed at and target it for that particular audience.
5. Consider the subject matter for your poster. Research the topic, and understand it, before you begin designing.
You can download the poster brief, these tips and inspiration from our designers on the right. Once you are done, email your creations to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may feature it on the site.