In rehearsal, however well some of those involved might know the text (and everyone will, of course, have read the whole text), it is also important not to get ahead of ourselves but to play (at least at first) only what is happening at that precise moment. What has gone before may, of course, shape the action – but not what is to come. Of course, once we get to the end of the play, we can look back at those earlier signals that prefigured what was to come – some of which we might not have noticed at the time – and, where necessary, adjust. But it is important, I think, to allow unexpected turns in the plot or a character’s behaviour to take the performers by surprise, as it were, and see what follows; trying to smooth out what may seem like inconsistencies can often reduce the intentionally complex fabric of a play. So in this Commentary, as far as possible, I have tried not to get ahead of the action, but to wait for events to occur before discussing them. However, as in rehearsal, it is sometimes useful to observe a developing pattern in the action or language of the play, or to pause to consider some wider implication of an idea that the play has raised, or to explore something that helps explain what’s going on, or why. I hope the distinction is clear – and that I can keep it that way – as we proceed, so these comments are printed in italics.
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