I recently had the extremely good fortune to be ‘hand-picked’ to take Directing Masterclasses at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. I met such brilliant, warm, wonderful people in my instructors and my fellow classmates. It’s reignited my passion for directing and teaching so much that I want more! So, here is just a very tiny bit of how my too brief weekend of Globe classes went:
Day 1, Saturday:
Introductions with Rob Swain brought us into the beautiful Sam Wanamaker Playhouse where I pulled out my notebook to begin taking notes. The lovely actor Dickon Tyrrell was our instructor for ‘An Actor’s Perspective’ where he told us what it was like playing in this beautiful space as well as in the Globe theatre. He said the mistake an actor could make in the indoor playhouse was ‘going too intimate’ and that actors should ‘play it like you’re in the Globe’. Then we were given an extensive tour of the playhouse from Hell to the Heavens! I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Tyrrell’s advice about how ‘Shakespeare is the director’ and that there is ‘no generalized emotion in Shakespeare’. As a Historically Informed Practice director myself, these are the same things I tell my actors, as well as my students in the workshops that I teach. Then we met with director Jacqui Somerville for ‘A Director Prepares,’ who taught us about how important a support system is. I couldn’t agree more. We also learned Ms. Somerville’s process for her preparation and research and how she works with directors. One of my favorite things that she said was: ‘Don’t spoon-feed actors. Empower them.’ So inspirational!
After lunch, we met with Simon Dormandy for our ‘Text and Language’ course. Such a fun discussion with my fellow Shakespeareans! One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Dormandy was ‘If it’s difficult to say, don’t make it easy.’ Going back to what Mr. Tyrrell said earlier in the day about how ‘Shakespeare is the director’: Shakespeare puts the character in the language. If your character is given a difficult line to say – there’s a reason for it. Perhaps your character is confused, conflicted or not sure about what he/she is saying. Don’t try to ‘fix’ the line. Just say it and see what happens. Then we got into text and pauses and got to get on our feet to work on lines. I was fortunate to read a bit of Olivia from Twelfth Night aloud using what we had learned.
Before we knew it, class was over. But all of us directing students wanted more. Shakespeare and directing is our passion! Being able to learn from some of the best practitioners around was such a blessing and I wish (as did we all) it could have been longer. Luckily, there was one more day of learning, which I’ll write about in my next blog post: ‘The Teaching, the Directing, the Passion Part II.’
PS: Attached are a couple of photos of my trip with my travelling companion Balzac (who you may remember from Andy Kirtland’s blog post last year: ‘A Labour of Love, or There and Back Again’) with more photos & my tweets during the weekend via #EtoGlobe.