Week by Week

Week 5

Week 5, and the cast have moved out of the rehearsal room and onto the Globe’s stage. This week is called tech week, and is the first rehearsal where all the different parts of the production are brought together. The set was put up over the weekend, and now both the musicians perform live for the first time and the actors are in full costume, with extra props if they need them. All the sound cues are tested, at theatres other than the Globe lighting cues will be tested as well. The technical rehearsal is lengthy, often taking place over several days, as it will stop and start repeatedly. See the photos below for what's been happening so far this week.

This week you can also watch an interview with Simon Kenny who is the designer for this production. We asked Simon how he approached his role and what challenges he faced designing for The Globe - take a look below.

Week 5 Images

The set being built onstage.

Bill Buckhurst [Director] and Ognen [Shylock] preparing for rehearsals on-stage for the first time.

The set being built.

The set on-stage.

Cameron [Antonio] and Ognen [Shylock] preparing to rehearse on-stage for the first time.

Backstage the costumes for quick changes are being prepared.

Various props and pieces of furniture for use in the play are collected backstage.

A quote from The Merchant of Venice outside the Groundling Gates.

A quote from The Merchant of Venice outside the Groundling Gates.

The programmes for the production have arrived ready for the production to open Thursday.

The programmes for the production have arrived ready for the production to open Thursday.

The Merchant of Venice flags are up outside the Globe.

The Merchant of Venice flags are up outside the Globe.

Week 5 Blog

Friday 7th March

What a week! Three days of tech, followed by three days of performing!

Monday morning got us off to a good start. We were prepped and ready for a twelve and a half hour day… in the cold and rain. Talk about being thrown in the deep end. In hindsight, it was probably the best way to start the week. We got to try out the worst-case scenario. We had a chance to find out how many thermals we could fit under our costumes, and Catherine (Portia) even had a go at sitting in an empty hot tub in a little swimsuit, and the cold rain. The first day of tech is always a bit of a slog. There is a lot of learning to do. Most of the time we are working out how to get around the theatre, how quickly we can get from one costume into another, figuring out how to sit down in our new costume, or how to dance with a huge mask obstructing our peripheral vision! Most of the time I was thinking about how to dance without falling off the stage. My favourite part of the tech was learning how to get from the balcony to the stage via a rope! I had a session with a professional on Tuesday morning, which began with me jumping off a chair, and ended with me swinging from the balcony. They gave me plenty of time to practice, and by the end of the week the director was asking me to slow down so that the audience could actually see it. I am hoping to have biceps like Popeye by the end of the run.

By the second day of tech we had got up to speed. We had two more twelve hour days ahead of us, and then on Thursday we would open the doors to 1500 students. I was worried that I wouldn’t have any energy left by the first performance, but as soon as I heard the roar of excited teenagers I was filled with adrenaline. Think Popeye after a can of spinach. It was brilliant.

Having awkwardly spoken to chairs and walls, and sung songs to politely smiling adults in the rehearsal room, it was such a joy to get a reaction from a HUGE group of teenagers. I’ve said before that the Globe theatre feels like a rock arena, well, put 1500 teenagers in that rock arena and get your seismograph out. The place just shakes with energy.

Don’t get me wrong; it is also terrifying. It is our job to ride that energy, harness it and control it. I was really surprised at how much the audience were engaged with the story. For example, the moment that Bassanio decided to give his ring away, the crowd erupted in protest. When Shylock is forced to give up his religion and become a Christian, the word “racist” rumbled throughout the theatre. This is how Shakespeare should be played. 400 years ago the audience would have been as vocal as these school kids, and I wish every audience was the same. Their input helps to drive the story on, and I think that Shakespeare wrote these stories with knowledge of how the audience would react. There was a wonderful moment in the first show where the audience booed Shylock. This ‘boo’ couldn’t have come at a better time in the play; what immediately followed was this:

Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? - if you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us do we not laugh? if you poison us do we not die? and if you wrong us shall we not revenge? [3.1.53-60]


The audience fell silent. It was as if they were being punished for their ‘booing’. It was a moment that we had not experience in the rehearsal room, and a moment that I don’t think I had even considered. Most importantly, it is a moment that would not have been as poignant with a polite adult audience. We are used to sitting in dark theatres, or in our living rooms with a television screen separating us from the drama, but the Globe is the place to be vocal. I encourage everyone who comes to the Globe to be as vocal with their reactions as a 14 year old would be. We will all gain a lot more from the story that way, and hopefully go home having learnt something new. It is only week one, I’m sure we will have a lot more challenging audiences in, and I know we have a lot more to learn. 

From Bethan backstage


Creative Brief


A creative brief is given to each member of the creative team working on the project. It is intended to help them structure their ideas and keep a focus on the director's intended vision for the production.

Why not be creative yourself and design your own set for the production using our real set brief...

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