The view from the stage - what is it like performing in Shakespeare's Globe's new space?
dbrief Extra hears from actor Alex Waldmann, who played Antonio in the opening production of 'The Duchess of Malfi' and is appearing as Jasper in Beaumont's 'The Knight of the Burning Pestle', which runs from 20 February to 30 March at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
"I think we’re working out the challenges of the space as we go along. We’ve done five previews so far and this space is new to everyone, for Dominic, the director, for the audiences, us as the actors and we’re sort of working it out as we go along.
And it seems that the biggest challenge is, actually, is just try and be as simple as you can and make the language right at the forefront so not try and complicate things too much. And as an actor that’s really hard to do, because you always want to get yourself in the way, so I think that’s what we’re learning as we go along is to try and be as simple as we can.
The most interesting and enjoyable aspect of the space is feeling that the audience is right there with you, that you’re in the same room, there is something about the sound quality in here that I’ve never known in a theatre before. That they’re right there with you, you can turn and someone will be looking straight at you and they’re a metre away. And to have that sense of intimacy and closeness in the room and that the audience are absolutely part of it is really exciting and it hopefully means we are in a conversation both with the other actors and all the audience rather than presenting a play to them.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent the last two years at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which is 1000 seats, much bigger than here but it still had the similar configuration with the audience all around you. What we’d been working on over the last couple of years was making Shakespeare still feel natural and authentic but in quite a big space, whereas here people are only a few metres away.Here you just try and simplify everything and bring it right into yourself. You know that you’re having the thoughts but you don’t have to try too hard to show anything in order for the audience to be drawn in and share that story with you."
Photo: Sarah MacRae (Luce) and Alex Waldmann (Jasper) in rehearsals for "The Knight of the Burning Pestle", the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse 20th February to 30th March 2014. Photo: Alastair Muir