Romeo and Juliet, true love?
Are Romeo and Juliet really the most romantic of all lovers? Or is their love more folly, infatuation and teenage angst?
Challenge One - Shakespeare in rehearsal
Our first challenge is to imagine a rehearsal for one of Shakespeare's plays at the original Globe Theatre in Tudor London. Historically we don't know very much about the rehearsal process so what you imagine is up to you (and you don't need to be constrained by a small thing like history anyway).
So take us on a journey back in time to that Tudor rehearsal for....
Romeo and Juliet in RehearsalShakespeare has just read the play to his fellows...
"Oh, I don't know, Will. It's all very good and the romantic bits are exquisite verse, but it's missing something...more swordplay, I should think. Yes, swordplay!"
"You want...more swords?"
"Yes, Will, thank you very much! The more the better. The mob's come to watch us fight...well, my brothers have anyway, so we have to give it to them. You can make it work, Will. I know you can."
"Is everyone in agreement with the clown? (they nod) Well, then...let's see, we'll start with a brawl...it's hot in Verona, dog-fighting hot...yes, yes...okay! I think I've got it! Christopher, I want you to bite your thumb at John."
"Bite my thumb? What do you mean by that?"
"I saw two lubberheads almost kill each other at the Swan the other night because of it...I'm telling you, it is the rudest insult in Verona. Okay, someone write this down because I think I have it all now..."
Rich Roach, 2013
Posted by Rich Roach 27 Jul 13 03:25 am
ThanksThanks for your post - I will post on facebook and see if we can't get you some competition... ! Liz
Posted by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust 27 Jun 11 08:16 am
Challenge One - A Visitor During RehearsalA VISITOR DURING REHEARSAL
by Rich Roach, 2011
'Getting shakey, Master Shakespeare?' bellowed the large, grizzly bear of a man striding across the stage as if he owned it. 'This is rubbish. Rubbish! No one will believe a word of it. Why don't you try to use language that people actually speak, Will?' He was now standing before one of the open trapdoors where the great actor and playwright's head was visible.
'Greetings, Ben.' Master Shakespeare was hardly paying any attention to the Falstaff-like figure before him. He was signaling a page to bring him a quill from the shadowy sides of the stage. Once he had it in his hand, he began to write furiously on the papers he held in his other hand. He glanced up at Jonson. 'What wind didst thou out-blow to enter the Globe during rehearsal? And what are you prattling on about?'
'The Prince of Denmark is going to leap into the grave of this Danish tart? I mean, really, Will. It's villainous and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool who uses it!' Jonson's hands were on his hips. His head was as red as a beet.
Shakespeare stopped writing and looked straight at Jonson, his excitement immediately evident in his blushing cheeks and bright eyes. 'Ben, that's perfect...' He began to write again. 'Yes, yes...a most pitiful ambition....yes, yes, that's it!'
'What? Art thou to use my words? Oh, is THAT it, then? Arrgh.' Jonson shook his great head and continued. 'Never mind you keep me in the dark about this new play of yours, this tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, but now you'll filch me words as well? Shall I teach you how to act as well, Will? Why in blazes art thou stuck in that hole anyway. Shouldn't Burbage be standing down there in the pit o' hell?'
'It's fine, Ben,' came the immediately recognizable voice of Shakespeare's lead actor, Richard Burbage, from the wings. 'Will is helping me get wind of the lines. It is one of the benefits of having a playwright who is also an accomplished actor. Will knows exactly what he wants, to be sure.'
'Oh, does he now?' laughed Jonson. 'If there were any sense in that thick-skulled pate of his, he'd have never let the likes of good ol' Kempe go out that door!' Ben struck a great overblown pose.
'Aye, that's me - helping you out of another hole you've fallen into!'
Will smiled at him. 'Kempe had to go, Ben. His extempore work was...what was the word you used? Oh, yes...villainous. He distracted the crowd from the play, and thou know'st full well the play's the thing.'
'But he was so gooooood, Will. Why, he'd have them bursting their buckles with a look or a twist of his head.'
'Ah, that is exactly what I mean. Those who play clowns should speak no more than is written down for them. Kempe had no control and would laugh like a baboon at the spectators while some necessary question of the play was being considered. Now THAT'S villainous!'
'Hmmmph...' grumbled Jonson as Burbage ran over to inspect the new lines Shakespeare had written for him. 'The only thing villainous is an empty purse...bring him back, Will!'
'Never. There is a point where a fool can become contemptuous, too ambitious, and therefore dangerous to the proper working of a performance.'
Ben recognized the self-assurance in Will's voice and knew there was nothing he could say to convince him otherwise when he used that particular tone of voice. It bothered Ben a great deal, especially as Will always turned out to be right in the end. Somehow!
Will was listening closely to Burbage pouring his heart out over the trap door about his beloved Ophelia. After a brief pause and a nod from Shakespeare, the great actor continued.
Later, after several scenes were finished, Ben took out a massive capon from an inner pocket and began to eat on the stage. Will looked at him and grimaced.
Will said, 'That is exactly the manner in which an actor should say his lines, Rich – trippingly on the tongue. I couldn't have said it better. That's enough for this morning. We only have a fortnight to prepare the play and I need some time to add a few more missing details to the plot.' He turned to Ben and said, 'Hast thou another?' pointing to the capon.
The two playwrights retired to the tiring room to go over some of the more difficult aspects of the play. Shakespeare did very little speaking, but it was clear when the play was finally produced that he had been paying great attention to the burly man who could finish off a leg of lamb in three unholy bites.
'What would I do without you, Ben?' he quipped.
'Thou wouldst be in the streets with the urchins, Will,' Ben answered.
'Or with those little eyases you work with over at Paul's!'
'Hmmph!' answered Ben.
Posted by Rich Roach 27 Jun 11 05:14 am