So, for the last month we have been hoiking props, musical instruments and supplies up to the top of Ditchling Road.
Our Twelfth Night is set in Scotland, full of woollens, tartan and long socks (thank goodness!) so there’s plenty of opportunity for us to dress warmly on those ‘balmy’ May evenings.
Today we’re rehearsing Act 3, but it is a Sunday so the buses are few and far between and competing against a demo and throngs of extra police in the city. As a result the warm up does not start until a good twenty minutes in.
Matt leads a physical and vocal warm up today. It is essential for us actors to be warmed up physically (for the elements) vocally (for the windy outdoors) and mentally (for focus). There are innumerable distractions up here, not least the fact that we are far from enclosed (the wind carries our voices up and away) but also the regular visits from curious passers by and their dogs. Many times a complex scene has been reduced to comedy by a food-obsessed canine. Last week we watched the dog, that has become affectionately know as the big brown bear, wander into the undergrowth with a family pack of chocolate buttons, much to the despair of its owner (the chocolate’s owner, not the dogs).
Yesterday we had the pleasure of Nick Boulton’s company; he popped up (avoiding the worst of the weather) to give us a few tips on performing Shakespeare outdoors. These included:
- Engaging the diaphragm (practise by pushing against a wall or another actor)
- Walking to the rhythm of the words
- Practise sounding every consonant
- Sound the END of each word
- Avoid ‘spraying’ speeches around you; work with fixed points rather than diluting the text in an arc (more of the audience will hear you)
- Practice speaking each line on one breath, then extending this until you can do 2 or more lines without taking in more air. This will help you to keep your breath to the end of each thought.
- If you feel yourself straining your voice rather than engaging your diaphragm, take a moment to start a yawn to release the muscles and open your throat.
Twelfth Night plays throughout the Fringe Festival in ST ANN'S WELLS GARDENS, Hove, Festival Shakespeare Company
7-9.30pm for all 10-13th, 16th-18th, 20th, 23rd-27th - £10/8
BRING A PICNIC AND BLANKETS, under 5S free, under 16 £6, family of 4 £28