Welcome to the first week of Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank.
Rehearsals have now begun for this year’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Join us each week, as we follow the cast and the creatives on their journey.
As the cast get to know each other this week, why not get to know the characters too?
Be sure to come back each day for updates with our Assistant Director Natasha, straight from the room where it happens.
Design Your Own 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 and we may feature it on the site!
Week 1 Blog
Today started with a ‘meet and greet’ – this happens on the first day of every play, where the new company of actors and creatives meet the rest of the staff who work in the building, drink tea, and get ready for the day ahead. It’s always exciting (and sometimes a bit nerve-wracking!)
This was followed by director Michael Oakley talking the company through his ideas for the world. This included discussion on costume with designer Alex – the similarities between the central two families in the play (‘both alike in dignity’) and the differences (we think the Capulets are ‘new money’ and so flashier in their clothing than the more reserved Montagues). Our fight director Alison then spoke to the cast about the evolution of sword fighting at the time Shakespeare was writing the play, which would have been recognisable to his audience. They might even have seen a sword fight on their way in! After a read-through of the play, choreographer Paul started teaching sequences of dance which will be used for the party scene during which Romeo and Juliet meet.
The day ended onstage with Glyn (Globe Associate – Movement). Glyn introduced the cast to the Globe’s unique space – its size, and the relationship it offers between an actor and the audience. Being on the stage together was a really special moment and a great way to end the first day.
‘Table work’ today – sitting down discussing and analysing the text. It’s a great way to discover things you might skim over at first (and also usually involves lots of biscuits – bonus!)
The morning began with a visit from one of the Globe’s text experts Christine, who spoke about the different forms of the text: verse (written in iambic pentameter or ten beats), and prose (written in a free flowing style). She talked about the reasons Shakespeare might use each one and believes characters speaking in verse are usually speaking truthfully and from the heart (e.g. Romeo and Juliet speak to each other in verse). Those speaking in prose are usually hiding something (e.g. Mercutio often speaks in prose when he’s showing his bravado), but it can also reveal that the mind is disordered or chaotic.
In the afternoon, the director Michael asked each person to say the first word that came to mind for each character in the play (whatever that was – first reaction is the most important thing). After this the company would go round again and explain why they chose that word. The actor playing that character would then able to accept or reject all or part of what was said. This gives the whole company ownership over every character in the play, and opens up discussions.
Today we were joined by Chris, an actor who has appeared many times on the Globe stage but who also designs and runs the workshops that schools will have before and/or after you see the production. The whole company took part in Chris’ workshop to experience the same workshop lots of you will be doing before you come to see the show.
The company were really excited to hear about the workshops that are already going on in Birmingham and London – it’s great to know the play is being explored and discovered by some of our audience at the same time we are discovering what the show will be ourselves. As well as being a lot of fun, the workshop also opened up discussions about the play and the characters which built on work previously being discussed in the room. Questions included:
Do Tybalt and Mercutio plan to fight to the death at the very start of the scene? Does Tybalt mean to kill or just wound Mercutio?
Has Juliet ever disobeyed her parents before she refuses to marry Paris, and how ‘hands on’ are they as parental figures?
In our production the Prince is being played by a younger actor than Capulet and Montague- how does this affect the power dynamic between the three of them?
Today started with a session with Salvatore on voice and breath, which is particularly important to think about when playing a large open air space like the Globe. Following this, the company had their first costume fittings which included a few different options for each character. Choices made by Alex the designer can then be updated, based on overall look as well as what each actor feels best channels the character they are creating.
In the main rehearsal room, we began a close reading of the text – this is a read-through of the play, but where the director and company can stop to analyse any parts of the text they are unsure of. The close reading today threw up discoveries, including the fact that Mercutio lists body parts of Rosaline in a provocative way when he is shouting to Romeo after the party. Shortly after, Juliet lists what is (and is not) in a name and also includes parts of the body: “any other part belonging to a man”. Michael the director has been talking about how this is a play of opposites.
Another observation was that the Nurse says to Romeo that she will “commend” him (meaning assure Juliet that Romeo wants to marry her) a “thousand times”. In Juliet’s earlier scene with Romeo she says “a thousand times” goodnight. Could this be a turn of phrase Juliet has picked up from the Nurse because their relationship is so close?
Today started with a session with Olly (the composer), who was teaching a song that will be sung by the company underneath Romeo and Juliet’s wedding. The song is in three lines, meaning there are three harmonies. The company learnt each one, building up singing the main tune with one harmony and then another – it’s sounding beautiful!
Alison our fight director was back in the room, and had been to the Globe’s prop store. She brought back a mixture of weapons and ‘found objects’ (everyday things you could use to fight with) to start building the language of violence in the play, which is present from the very first scene.
The fight director is in charge of choreographing these sequences safely to look as gruesome as possible, whilst also telling the story of the violence. This might be characters’ motivation, how good each character is at fighting, and whether they win easily or if it’s a struggle). Fights don’t look good without understanding what’s happening for the person fighting mentally as well as physically, and so Alison works with the actors on both things. Each fight has a story, and each move has an intention behind it, just like when you are working with text.
After today’s session Alison will choreograph fights that will take place in the show, and these will need to be regularly practised and refined. (PLEASE remember that even very experienced actors would never try and improvise a fight without following the proper techniques and the help of a fight director!)