National Theatre Live | Hamlet – Rehearsing the sword fight


(♪ JAZZ DRUM SOLO) MAN: So, what I’d like to do first,
I think, let’s do phrase one. Let’s run it first time,
as slow as you want, for targets.Yeah.Second time for rhythm. Then we’ll actually run the whole thing
a couple of times.— OK.
— Then we’ll go on to the visceral bit.
Yeah? Cool.The first thing is, obviously, the script,
and in this script in particular
Shakespeare has, essentially,
written the fight beats for you. Good. Yeah, nice. That thrust, that last thrust of yours might need to be
just a tiny bit lower than normal.We had our first fight rehearsal about
three weeks before the real rehearsals.
I think, learning it enough
to make it natural
and play the intentions
of each thrust, each stroke,
is what was difficult for me.It was finding the truth of it,beyond getting throughthe ‘And left, and right…’So, say you, sir. Come on!In many ways, it’s the play in microcosmbecause it’s got all these formal ideas
that button up the passion
and the urges,— the appetites of the people taking part.
— Yeah.
So, let’s play it
for the rhythm this time. — So, looking for that ba-bum at the end.
— Yeah.
Say you, sir, come on!It’s so easy to get into a very set —
ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum — rhythm.
If I play a set rhythm,
it says, “This isn’t real.” Whereas, as soon as I’m taking things off
the beat, it has much more reality to it. — At the moment, it sort of goes, one-two.
— Yeah.
Three-four. I’d like to see if it could go,
one-two three-and…— One, two…
— That’s it. Then it goes…
Bam-bam-ba! — Yeah! So, it’s bam-bam-BA!
— I see. OK, so…
The rhythms of fights, I think,
are really…
That’s always a very interesting thing
to play with,
just a slight change in tempo.You know, it could be… As opposed to…Or…That’s all, that’s all, but as long as
there’s a… to the end point.
I like that. I like that side of it.Kind of, you know, the jazz drumroll
that can be slightly, slightly different.
— It’s like line endings when we speak.
— Yeah!
Push to the end of the line
or the line doesn’t make sense.
You need to push to the end of the attack.— Or the attack doesn’t make sense.
— Yeah. It’s really true.
Up on me there. That’s it.I’m here. You knock me out the way.Yeah. That’s it.It’s brilliant when they are vocal
about what they want or what they don’t,
because they’re the ones that have
to do it every night, you know.
We talked about keeping it freshand one of the things is that…..when they’ve helped create it, and I’ve
sort of given structure to their ideas, it’s so much easier for them to play,because it’s their instinct
rather than mine.
— One!
— OK, yeah.
— That’s better, isn’t it?
— Nice, yeah.
We know it well enough
to make it look like
I’m just getting my sword there
or there for a defence
and I’ve just decided to do that.It’s about those tiny little bits of airthat we sometimes allow within
the kind of… quickness of the routine
that keep it fresh and make it look like
it’s the first time we’ve done it.
There needs to be just a little bit
of forward movement to make him…With my job, the less you know that
I’m there when you see the production,
the better job I’ve done.You know, if you see two characters
have a fight
and you think, ‘Those two guys
are really fighting,’ I’ve done my job.
And one of the great things
about this show is that these two guys
are just so phenomenal that it’s been a real joy
to work with themand to see where it’s gotten to.Great. There we go.

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