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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Globe Cymbeline
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1792  Wednesday, 18 July 2001

[1]     From:   Ann Carrigan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 13:30:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

[2]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 10:57:40 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

[3]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 17:59:57 -0000
        Subj:   A mole gets it off his chest

[4]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 21:26:20 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

[5]     From:   Raphael Lyne <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Jul 2001 22:10:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Carrigan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 13:30:01 EDT
Subject: 12.1779 Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

Alec Wild wanted to know:

>This morning I read the Daily Telegraph's review of
>Cymbeline, playing at the Globe in London, and was
>intrigued to read that only six actors
>were in the production. Can anyone who has seen the
>production tell me how six actors played all of the
>roles? The final scene requires at least eleven
>actors - was there much cutting?

I wanted to know, too. I read the Guardian review just last night. A fan
of any well-done small-cast version (having seen Illyria's energetic
five-person gender-bending "Shrew" and "R&J" in the past several years,
as well as fondly remembering a 5-person ACTER production of "MoV" from
my college years--1983?), I think the general rule is to dispense with
the stage pageantry and simply have the actors represent two or three
people at one time. They may move, change caps, or in the case of the
ACTER production, simply read the stage directions: "Enter Salerio and
Solanio."

I questioned last month on HLAS, where we were discussing Cymbeline,
whether Posthumus and Cloten were created to be doubled up, after
looking at the two characters more closely than I had before. It seems
in this case they were.

>From reading the available London reviews, linked from this page:

http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/reviews/cymbelineglobe01.htm

>From the reviews, I gather:

Mark Rylance - Posthumus, Cloten, Cornelius the physician
Jane Arnfield - Imogen (and probably Philario or one of the others at
Rome)
Richard Hope - Cymbeline, Gaoler
Fergus O'Donnell - Pisanio
John Ramm - Iachimo, Belarius
Abigail Thaw - Queen (and probably Helen)

One of the reviews mentioned that they not only changed character but
sex as well, and by the scene-flow, I'm assuming both Thaw and Arnfield
played characters in Rome. Possibly Thaw could have been Caius Lucius,
or one of the lost brothers. I'd guess O'Donnell played the remaining
brother.

The reviews seem to range from highly complimentary to disgusted. I was
surprised that this type of performance would be done at the Globe and
not some more intimate space.

I hope this is a start, and perhaps someone has seen it and can chime in
with the complete cast breakdown from the program.

--Ann Carrigan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 10:57:40 -0700
Subject: 12.1779 Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

>Can anyone who has seen the production tell me
>how six actors played all of the roles? The final scene requires at
>least eleven actors - was there much cutting?

Saw the fourth "preview" performance the beginning of July. One of the
most impressive productions I've seen. Certainly the best Cymbeline I've
seen.

Not much cutting.

Not only are there only six actors, they were all dressed identically
(!) in just-off-white silk. Rylance played Posthumous and Cloten. Can't
remember all the other doubles (I was concentrating on enjoying the
sheer effect; hope to see it again to think my way through it more.)

Many spoken stage directions were used to keep the audience oriented. It
opens with each actor naming the parts they play, with one-line
descriptions of each part. When the scene moves, an actor would often
say "Cymbeline's court" or some such. In some cases they would again
name the part they were playing. But that was generally unnecessary; the
combination of the scene they were playing and their acting put it
across.

When an actor had to play two parts at once (as often in the final
scene), the distinction was generally managed through acting alone.
Sometimes they would move to another part of the stage, or change their
orientation to the other actors, but other times, just changing their
character sufficed to keep the audience informed of who they were. Kind
of a tour de force, that, changing character recognizably without even
moving to another spot. It worked very well, a testament to the actors.

All six remained on the stage throughout, sitting at the back of the
stage for their "exits."

Went to the talk afterward with Mark Rylance (artistic director and male
lead) and the female lead (who was wonderful--her first globe
production--and whose name I'm embarrassed to have forgotten). Among
other things, they said that the production was *unblocked.* They were
moving based on principles they'd agreed to, but each performance is
different. I think this added a great deal to the beauty of the piece,
and the actors' ability to interact with the audience (one of the things
that makes the Globe such a great experience). Without the tyranny of a
lighting design, they could do this.

Two thumbs up here. This production, nontraditional as it is, really
takes advantage of the Globe's strengths, and is a great opportunity to
experience the intimate, interactive experience that the Globe can
provide.

And the play, of course, offers perhaps the most cathartic series of
discoveries and resolutions at the end of any Shakespeare play
(birthmarks, returns from the grave, vile misrepresentations corrected,
the works). The crowd was shouting out in delight as the revelations
emerged, (what, two or three dozen?), to end with the happy conclusion.
A real pleasure.

Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 17:59:57 -0000
Subject:        A mole gets it off his chest

Apropos the question about Globe casting in Cymbeline:

The Globe's production of Cymbeline involves a bewildering ballet of
tripling and (I seem to recall in the case of Mark Rylance) quadrupling.
This necessitates much business with introductions and this seems to go
down well with the punters as an additional complication is that the
costumes are more or less similar (white silk suits). The musicians and
the cast all remain on stage most of the time so things look crowded
enough.

It's fun to see this play (and Macbeth in the current season) played
with a high element of comedy some of which arises from the
doubling/tripling. The Globe deserves recognition for a bit of
innovation and a bit less of the rotten carping from critics such as he
of the FT.

The Globe really should record its productions direct from stage and get
them out commercially as this rough magic needs to be seen. It may be
the solution to finding more cash to salary resting actors.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jul 2001 21:26:20 +0100
Subject: 12.1779 Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

Alec Wild asks,

>This morning I read the Daily Telegraph's review of Cymbeline, playing
>at the Globe in London, and was intrigued to read that only six actors
>were in the production. Can anyone who has seen the production tell me
>how six actors played all of the roles? The final scene requires at
>least eleven actors - was there much cutting?

The actors double without exiting by a) announcing who they are, b)
changing their voices and deportment.

Gabriel Egan

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Raphael Lyne <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Jul 2001 22:10:29 +0100
Subject: 12.1779 Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1779 Cymbeline

I saw the Globe Cymbeline last Saturday, and I can confirm that there
were only six actors (plus two onstage musicians) and that it worked,
without unusual amounts of cutting -- a full three hours' work for the
actors who were onstage all the time, though sitting at the back for
some of it. Mark Rylance played Cloten and Posthumus (and the Doctor).
His Cloten rather eclipsed his Posthumus, but this ended up seeming like
an interesting reflection on the play. All the actors played multiple
parts. There were a few points in the play where this could have caused
minor crises -- where the actors had to switch roles immediately when
the scene changed, for example. I didn't think any of these was
problematic, however. Imogen mistaking Cloten's body and clothes for
Posthumus' took on a new quality.  The last scene was pretty amazing,
with actors changing roles cleverly, but they carried it off with some
clever arrangements of people on stage (e.g.  Belarius, Guiderius and
Arviragus always stood as a trio when in those roles) and with one bit
of frank comedy, when the actor playing Pisanio told the story of
Cloten's departure and then had to say, after a slight jump, 'and I
killed him!' When I heard in advance that there would be six actors, and
all wearing loose white clothes, I was not optimistic, but I thought it
was great.

Raphael Lyne
New Hall, Cambridge

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