On Saturday morning, I took half the Malcontent company in the Playhouse to explore the world of the court – the formality, the status games and the intrigue. Marston’s play is a relentless expose of the two-face flatterers, scheming wives, lecherous courtiers, and ruthless usurpers of the court, who all have to carry out their underhanded deeds beneath the stiff veneer of courtly conduct. We practised the formal body language of the court and the company split into groups to devise short wordless scenes depicting some of the intrigues and subplots that bubble under the surface of the play.
Meanwhile, Caitlin and the rest of the company were working on Act 4 of the play. Anna Marsland, our text guru, is always on hand to help unpick Marston’s beautiful language.
Joseph, who plays the deposed Duke, Altofront, describes their rehearsal;
Jasmine (playing Mercury)
“This week we experimented with devising non-scripted scenes in the quaint-yet-magnificent Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. After watching the forest scene that some of the cast had devised last week we tried to implement their use of soundscapes, stillness and movements into a scene located int he court. To do this we had to think about what the courtiers would do on a day-to-day basis,the relationships they had with eachother and how they would move while in court. To begin we began to think about how the clothing that the people in court would wear affected they way moved and felt and as a result acted and the court. Restricted, postured and like a black-and-white movie star (mine!) were some of the phrases and adjectives that came to mind. We began to move about the stage and form a catwalk based on these words and imagining how the costumes would affect these movements. Eventually we moved on to devising these mute, stylised scenes which would each last 16 beats. One group worked on a scene about the women in the court and the group I was in worked on a scene about “Deceiving Pietro”. It was difficult at first to think about how to stage something so specific and still make it flow all within sixteen beats. But as a wise man once said “under great pressure is great art made” and eventually we were coming up with a great ideas including the use of a note being passed around unbeknownst to Pietro.
It was really interesting to see how these big characters and plot features could be implemented so seamlessly within sixteen beats and still manage to be engaging and interesting. I look forward to doing more devising in the future!”
Joseph (playing Duke Altofront)
“On Sunday, after an exhausting, yet exhilarating warm up on the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse stage, my group joined Caitlin, our director, to continue our work on the text of The Malcontent. After thoroughly analysing some scenes, we tried various exercises in characterisation. One was physically shaping the person I was in dialogue with, into whatever emotion I thought my character was communicating, for example, I could put their arm around me if I was speaking in a friendly manner. Another exercise involved throwing a tennis ball the speed of which would convey the strength of feeling in my line to show anger, politeness, determination or just being laid-back. We also did some line feeding. This meant that one person would feed the other person’s line and they would repeat it. The idea was to make us focus on the line and its meaning and the different ways it could be portrayed. If we needed any help understanding the text, we could always ask Anna, our text genius, to explain anything we were unsure of. We had a lot of fun and I understand more about my character now.!”
We then had an exciting session with our Fight Director, Kevin McCurdy, who gave the company a taste of stage combat. We learnt about the control and discipline required to make fights safe, and the importance of teamwork and reaction to make them believable. Within an hour he’d transformed them into worryingly believable brawlers….
Isaac (playing Prepasso and the Captain):
“This Sunday the Globe Young Players were given an opportunity to do a stage fighting workshop with Kevin McCurdy. Kevin stands an intimidating 6’ 2” and does not look like someone you’d want to mess with, but he was actually teaching us how NOT to hurt each other in a fight. First we learnt about how important it is for the actor to react correctly and in time with his fellow actor’s movement. We studied pre-fight movement and body language and how to make your opponent feel intimidated and back-off. After that we put all that we had learnt to the test with an exciting choreographed fight sequence including strangling and shoulder-barging. Altogether a truly unforgettable experience and subject that I am keen to learn more about!”
This weekend we’ve got many more exciting people coming in to teach our company even more skills, watch this space!