Week 8 BLOG
It's the last week! Where has the time gone?! I'm sitting in a cafe on the South Bank between our Tuesday shows. We have performed this afternoon to school parties and later it is one of our few evening performances. This afternoon was lovely - a warm responsive audience with lots of laughs. Tonight will feel different. People come to the theatre in the evening carrying the baggage of the day. Sometimes that means they're a bit sleepy whilst at other times they're seeking the release and fun of an evening out.
Having said that, all our audiences have felt very different from each other and I have learned so much from them about the Globe. My main reflection is that this space encourages irreverence and a kind of visceral involvement in a play. This is surely something to do with the shared light and the shape that encourages a live, sometimes celebratory atmosphere. The Playing Shakespeare project seems like the ultimate experiment into how an early Globe audience might have reacted 400 years ago. Lots of our audience members were coming to the theatre for the first time so didn't have the modern cultural expectations of theatre going. There they were in a pretty precise replica of Shakespeare's first Globe hearing the play, perhaps in the main, for the first time. How would they react? Well they certainly didn't all sit in silence, and made their presence felt. Their engagement with the play was palpable to the point where characters were jeered and cheered in equal measure. During one performance last week I heard someone shout out as I slapped Sebastian 'Smack him back man'! It was clear to me they were on Sebastian's side and that they were responding on his behalf. I loved it. Reactions to Malvolio have been strong... Some cries of sympathy, some jeers. The energy coming from a full Globe reacting in this way is extraordinary and this very old play seems like a fresh and exciting brand new story.
Through these reactions and our rehearsal process I have learned a lot more about Twelfth Night (it's a play I already knew well) and its characters. Even though the story is concluded in the final scene, many of the characters are left with an uncertain future. What will become of Malvolio and Sir Andrew, both of whom have failed to find the love and recognition they seek? Antonio too is left presumably a prisoner at Orsino's pleasure, and his friendship with Sebastian is by no means resolved. How did Shakespeare manage to write such a funny play with such sadness in it? Olivia and Viola's grief for fathers and brothers fuels the story, and a modern audience should leave the theatre faintly troubled by the bullying that Malvolio has been through partly at their hands.
Our job was however primarily to entertain, I really hope we've done that and certainly the audience response seems to suggest so. I feel buoyed up by the experience. I'm going to relish these last few days here on South Bank before taking a bit of a break. I hope to come back soon though and to see many of you here. Thanks for coming and good luck!
NEW BRIEF AVAILABLE – Review
Many theatre productions are reviewed by members of the press, who attend a performance and comment on the creative elements that come together on stage during a performance.
Theatre critic Matt Trueman has provided some top tips for reviewing a play. If you've seen Twelfth Night, or are planning to attend, why not read our brief and send us your review.
Matt's top tips are:
1. Keep your eyes and ears peeled because everything on stage is important.
2. Reviewing is about communicating your thoughts, so be clear before being clever.
3. Don’t worry about the language too much - trust yourself to get the story.
4. Remember that your readers might not have seen the play so make sure you’re describing it in detail.
5. Most importantly, above all else be honest and have fun!
Now download the Reviewing Brief on the right. Once you are done email your review to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may feature it on the site.