Nine Bubble participants are currently appearing in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank. Here’s their latest report…
It’s now two weeks since we opened and the time’s simply flown by. It’s a fantastic privilege to work alongside a professional cast, performing on a world famous stage to audiences of 1,000 or more – sometimes doing two shows day.
We’re playing the Windsor Locals, helping to create the sounds, shapes and atmosphere of 1930s Windsor, and encountering the audience as they arrive. We have a big part to play in the trickery of the final act, and join with the cast in a wild lindy-hop dance that accompanies the final curtain call. We were thrown into the deep end, learning some aspects of our role just hours before our first show. And we’ve had to create our own roles and improvisations as we interact with audiences from across the world. But thanks to great support from the production team and cast at the Globe, we have managed to swim. (Just as well, given the weather we’ve had during much of June!)
And our previous work with Bubble gives us really good feel for how to work as an ensemble and support our fellow performers.
Jimmy, who plays Charlie, a laundry man, has enjoyed the challenge of performing to an audience with high expectations. ‘It’s very different from the Bubble, where people have come along to see you, whereas here they have paid to see a Shakespeare play with top class actors,’ he said. ‘So it’s a bit more intense. But everyone’s embraced it and we’re enjoying it.
‘I’ve enjoyed interacting with the audiences, throwing in a bit of rhyming slang for the Americans, you can get a laugh that way. You ask people to help with the laundry and they don’t always know whether or not to get involved. But then they see us on stage later, so they probably make a connection at that point.’
Lee, who plays Robert, part-time shoe shine man and laundry assistant, says the Globe is a unique space in which to perform. ‘You get audiences from all around the world, they really enjoy the Globe theatre and the show, and they are mostly really friendly,’ And he is full of praise for the cast and crew at the Globe. ‘They’ve really looked out for us from the start, they’ve been so kind.’
Shows can vary from day to day, says Elyce, who plays Mary, part time gardener and laundry assistant. ‘It can depend on the weather, and sometimes you get a particularly enthusiastic audience, who want to get into a bit of banter with you,’ she said. ‘Generally they’ve been very friendly.’
She’s also appreciates the relaxed atmosphere among the cast. ‘They’ve very professional, but they seem so relaxed and are just great fun.’
Embarking on such a long run – the first such experience for all of us – has brought lessons in how to manage your energy and time.
KC, who plays the role of Fern the gardener, said, ‘Doing a long run means you have to learn the importance of looking after yourself. Some of us are still working part-time on top of doing this, and with the late nights you have to make sure you remember to eat properly, things like that.
‘It’s been amazing to be part of this company – we all feel part of what’s happening, and you feel equally valued, whether you’re an actor with huge monologues or someone who appears for just a few minutes.’
Patrick, a former member of Bubble Young Theatre Makers, says the Globe allowed him to bring his skills as an amateur magician into the show, so he now plays the part of a William Peters, a travelling magician, confounding audiences with his card tricks. ‘It’s been a fantastic experience,’ he says. ‘I felt a bit intimidated at the idea of performing in a theatre with such a great reputation. But everyone has been so friendly and so supportive, we really feel like part of a big family, which is such a privilege.
‘This is the best actor training you could get, because every day you’re working with people who are at the top of their game, learning from them, seeing how they respond on stage, learning how to cope with nerves. There are so many things I’ve learned, both on stage and backstage. And on top of all that, to know that I performed on a stage that I’ve always so admired will just be an incredible life memory to take with me.’
Bubble players continue to perform in The Merry Wives of Windsor until 28 June. Standing places cost just £5, or you can book seats through the Globe
Blog compiled by Andrew (= Terry, shoe-shine man)
Bubble players: Andrew, Catherine, Eamonn, Elyce, Jimmy, Kc, Lauren, Lee, Patrick