Week by Week: Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank!

This week we have been taking a closer look at the actors in rehearsal. Check out our behind the scenes photos below and listen to the actors talking about their parts in the Characters section.

Also, check out the great posters that have been designed for the play by some of our Young Creatives from Ilford Ursuline School – take a look in the ‘Results from last week’.

Photo Gallery

Results from last week

A creative brief is given to each member of the creative team working on the project. It is intended to help them structure their ideas and keep a focus on the director's intended vision for the production.

Check out the results from last week's marketing brief...

Backstage Blog

Monday 30th January, 2.48pm

We spent the first couple of hours of rehearsal with the movement director, Sian Williams. She put the actors through their paces with a lengthy warm up. They spent some time examining how the fairies might move in the production. What might a fairy look and behave like in the play? Do they have wings? Do they have tiny ethereal voices?

We then rehearsed one of the many jigs (dance routines) in the show. Set to rhythmic, pumping tunes (to be provided by the composer Olly Fox). All high energy and body-popping; it will go down a treat with our young audience!

Before lunch we spent an hour onstage with the hugely inspirational movement guru, Glynn MacDonald. She took the company through a session on how to perform on the Globe stage. This theatre is unlike most 'conventional’ theatres. There are no stage lights, huge extravagant sets, or recorded sound. And it is a theatre without a roof and so natural light pours down into the space. Glynn let the actors explore the space through a number of thrilling games. They were dancing and hopping between the two Pillars of Hercules, aiming a pretend arrow at the audience and practicing ways of entering the space through the main door on the stage.

The first scene we have done this afternoon is Act 3 Scene 2. It is a feisty sequence where Demetrius and Lysander have fallen in love with Helena (after Puck drops the love potion in their eyes). It is a really brutal passage, full of insults, gasps and potential violence, but it is very funny too. The actors first speak through the scene in Shakespeare's language and whoever is speaking holds a tennis ball and points it at the person they are addressing. When their line ends they throw the ball over to the next speaker. This helps the actors to be specific about which character they are trying to change with their words. If an actor is talking to the audience in an aside (a device used to share private thoughts) they point the ball at the other actors who are not involved in the scene.

The next part of the process was to put the scene into their own words, using modern language that we would speak every day. This was a very illuminating experience for everyone involved. It gave the actors a chance to express themselves in a personal way and it was an opportunity for Bill to see if they understood what they were saying. We all agreed that the lover's scene (3.2) is one we have all probably played out in our youth, and is probably happening in secondary schools across the country! Declarations of love, confusion, betrayals, and eventually a mini-brawl!

From The Rehearsal Room


Thursday 3rd February, 12.45pm

It is freezing outside so Bill, the director, started our day with a really energetic group warm up. We then started working on the Mechanicals scene where they rehearse their play in the woods (Act 3. Scene 1).

Bill asked the cast where they think the characters have been before they appear on stage. This is known as their ‘given circumstances’ and gives insight into the opening mood of the scene. For example we tried it with Peter Quince entering the wood on a bike with Flute following him, munching on a packed lunch.

You can play the Mechanicals in so many different ways, and it is fun to see the actors experimenting with different character choices. The director gives clear instructions about what he wants, but there is a lot of freedom allowed for the actors throw in their own ideas.

The actors go over the scene a few times, trying out different ways of doing it. I loved the part where Bottom is transformed into a donkey, as it triggers onstage chaos, as everyone runs about in fear.

From The Rehearsal Room