Rehearsal blog – day 8 (15.5.2013)


In the morning, we looked at lines 1200-1287 – Chastity’s entrance.  Much of this action will make use of the ‘field’, both Diligence and Chastity are very mobile in this area during this section.  Indeed Diligence’s command of the whole domain of the round is noteworthy, as the research team had predicted.  The fact that the Three Estates can be found in the acting space throughout Part One also became clearer , which says something important about the kind of political universe that Lyndsay dramatizes and how integrated it is. At some point Temporality and the Merchants will need to be secreted in our VIP area.

In the afternoon, we looked at the stocking of Chastity and it was particularly interesting to see the opposition between Chastity and Sensualitie played out in dramatic space.  Today was also a day of costume fitting – above is Sensualitie trying out her wonderful costume.

At the end of the day, we looked at the section where Chastity is welcomed by the craftsmen, only to be chased away by their wives (ll 1287-1395) – a comic turn but with the serious point that Chastity may be found among Scotland’s lower orders, if not its elite.  Verity’s argument that subjects will follow the example set by their king shows that Sensualitie has not yet had the trickle-down effect she predicts.   Once again Lyndsay’s egalitarianism is demonstrated by the fact that the ability to recognise the beauty and virtue of Scotland is given to the Scottish working class…though not of course their ‘wickit wives’.

We also had the amazing realization that we will be opening the play on the same day as the play was performed in 1552 – June 7th.  It must be serendipity.

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Community: Cupar Banns rehearsals

Hi all

We have our final day of rehearsals for the Cupar Bans today. Its beautiful in Govan.

Plan for the day is to do a dress rehearsal in about an hour then head off to Falkirk to have  mark out the areas we are playing on Sunday!

Here are a few pics!


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Rehearsal blog – day 7 (14.5.2013)


Lots more work on the Vices today. In the afternoon the company looked at the part of the play where the Spirituality enter and Verity is hurled into the stocks 1077-1178.  The implication in the text is that the Spirituality are on-stage throughout the first a thousand lines because the stage direction before their first speech reads ‘Here they [the Vices] come to the Spirituality’ (1096 sd).  However, in our version the audience will see the men of the kirk for the first time as they enter on this stage direction, and are met by the Vices on what we call the punishment stage (the quarter to 12 stage of the round).   This is certainly a scene where the in-the-round staging comes to the fore as Verity will make a journey almost the entire way around the encircling walkway from the time of her entry to her imprisonment.

The need to combine action and words in order to keep a long show moving along at pace is becoming obvious.  However a moment will be taken to create a tableau during Verity’s speech in the stocks of the Spirituality gives the Vices their reward for putting her there, which really helps to focus the juxtaposition between her words and the churches’ deeds.  Greg Thompson also set up a convention whereby every time someone says a prayer or is sincere about religion, the Spirituality “get a slight migraine”.

We then looked at the Vices’ exit 1516-1579.  The fact this starts on the punishment stage but that the Vices move away from it nicely materializes their avoidance of retribution in the first half of the play.

If you’re coming to the production look out for Deceit’s stabbing out of  Falset’s eye –it’s going to be quite a moment!

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Community: The Cupar Banns

We started rehearsing the Cupar Bans( which is something like a touring ‘trailer’ for the Satire of the Three Estates) on Monday!

Monday saw us sat in the snug at the Scotia Bar doing several read throughs of the text in an aim to get our heads around the language …and meaning. It is so bawdy! We Love it! Later, we moved up to GTAC rehearsal studio in Govan to start piecing it together.

Over the past couple of days there has been a laughter that could give you a “a right wet sark” especially at Neville Millers gyrating seduction of Bes, Barry Walker’s pomposity as Findlaw and Calum Beaton and Floss Ross as Bessy and the Auld Man wrangling over the lock of a chastity belt . I don’t want to even think where those keys have been!

Yesterday we rehearsed outside at Linithgow Market Square which really brought it home how this short but sweet piece may have been received 500 years ago. several locals hung about to have a gander at what was going on which produced a few good conversations about the upcoming production of Three Estates. Inevitably we got soaked and moved into Linlithgow Palace where we spent the last hour rehearsing in the Grand Hall. That was quite something. To hear the language and work with the actors in a space Lindsey’s work had played seemed to bring a special energy to the final run of the day.

We have a couple of clips from yesterday which we will post in the morning!

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Rehearsal blog – day 6 (13.5.2013)


The morning began with rehearsal of the entrance of the Vices (Flattery, Falset and Dissait) and the pantomimic nature of their dialogue became apparent. We also discussed the meaning of lines 666-681 and where Dissait ‘comes from’ socially and morally.

The music director, John Kielty, joined us and, following the rehearsal on Saturday, it had been decided that some of the Vices’ dialogue will now be sung rather than spoken, so there was some song practice.  Also, the moments where the relationship with the audience can be built up were identified too, such as where the female audience members can be spoken to directly – platea- rather than loci-determined acting.

In the afternoon, the company were joined by the ‘royal’ vices, the king, and the women, and we went through speaking lines 808 –937 in the vernacular before speaking it as written. Guess the line: ‘Thou hast a fanny like a treacherous bog’!

The remainder of the afternoon was spent rehearsing and sharpening the ‘sex’ scene part of the play followed by Rex’s engagement of the disguised Vices into royal office.  Of particular interest was seeing Rex being witlessly led around the stage in thrall of Sensualitie, as well as his kneeling to Flatterie when he appoints him his spiritual counsellor – both spatial expressions of the king’s debasement.

The actor playing Veritie, Alison Peebles, joined rehearsal for the final part of the and we rehearsed her  first entrance.  Whom she was addressing became the most important question to solve, as many of her lessons are directed at princes and bishops who obviously won’t be amongst our audience.  Alison felt uncomfortable delivering a lesson meant for rulers to the common people.  We thought about directing the speech towards the VIP box area, but also considered whether she was articulating a biblical truth that needed to be directed at specific auditors at all.  It was decided that the first verse would be directed towards those in the field, the next four to the VIP area that political rulers might be imagined to inhabit, and the final stanza back to the ‘groundlings’.

Making Verity’s speech work with its complicated constructions and series of qualifications within single sentences made this, as the director said, “the hardest bit of Lyndsay yet”.

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Welcome to the Community Outreach blog

All posts relating to the community outreach programme will be posted here.

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Rehearsal blog – day 4 (10.5.2013)

We spent most of the day working on the ‘Courtly vices’, Wantonness, Placebo, and Sandy Solace, and their relationship with Rex Humanitas.

How should we think of that relationship? In allegorical terms, as a representation of the dangers to which every youth is prone, or on a more specific, human level, like watching Prince Harry and his mates out on the town? More specifically, we worked through just how close the group were. Could the vices touch the king, for example? And if they did, would it be familiarly and regularly, or hesitantly, wondering just how far they could go? Are they all self-aware of the liberties they are taking, or are some more spontaneous, more ‘natural’ in their camaraderie, unaware of where it might lead?

Gregory Thompson has also been developing the ways in which music and song can punctuate or underscore the action, having the versatile musician John Kielty accompany key pieces of dialogue on keyboard or bazouki, and turning some lines into snatches of song. The transformation of the scene is often striking.



Rehearsal blog – day 3 (9.5.2013)

The section we looked at today was the opening three scenes – Diligence’s opening speech, followed by that of Rex Humanitus and then the three courtiers, Solace, Wantonness and Placebo. What became apparent was how quickly the tone of the play changes and develops. Diligence’s opening speech, as worked on by Liam Brennan, in performance has a clear authorial feel. This is partly because of the way it sets up the play, both in turns of creating the audience as a specific image and assuming responsibility for preparing them for what is going to happen. The extent to which Diligence is a version of Lyndsay (one of many in the play – including Folly ) was emphasised by the passage at the end of the speech seeking to protect the play from accusations of sedition or slander. Seeing these words worked on gave me  real sense of the extent to which Diligence’s opening speech is a prologue designed to set up the play and announce Lyndsay’s aims. From Lyndsay’s Diligence,  James Mackenzie’s Rex Humanitus is a king out of his depth. His opening speeches are conventional but they also create a real sense of the pressures of early modern kingship. With the entry of Solace, Wantonness and Placebo another very different tone is set – realism but also comedy.

Watching the actors working on the first three sections of the play reminded how heterogeneous it is. It goes from authorial prologue, to the language of conventional morality plays to something altogether different when the courtiers appear. In particular, there is a sense as an audience of being instantly seduced by the three courtiers. In rehearsal this was partly because the actors playing these roles, Callum Cutherbertson, Richard Conlon and Ewan Donald, brought so much energy to their performances. But I also think that this is a deliberate ploy by Lyndsay. Diligence has important points to make about the play, Rex Humanitus’ speech is serous and moving, Solace’s account of his mother’s various lovers and the different fathers she gave him is comic, realist ( albeit misogynistic ) and unserious. It is almost as though from the opening of the play Lyndsay is tempting the audience to behave in exactly the way that Folly accuses them of behaving at the end. Surely only a foolish person would be seduced by the antics of Wantonness, Placebo and Solace.

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Rehearsal blog – day 2 (8.5.13)


Apologies for the delay on this one…

The company saw the set for the first time, locus and platea staging was explained, leading to questions about how they would be using the space, how they would enter and exit.  There were also questions about tickets, disability access and food for the audience.

We moved on to talk about text, and the actors expressed some concern with the fact that the script appeared to be half-Scots, and half-English.  A particular example of Sensualitie’s line ‘Flamand’ as the fire’ was used, corrected to ‘Flamin’’ by the research team, but an actor recalled the poetic magnificence of hearing it pronounced ‘Flammand’ in performance.  So it appears that we have over-modernised the text and it became clear that we would need to de-modernise the text as we rehearse our way through it, and find the pronunciations and rhymes that the Scottish actors are comfortable with.

The differences between Scots, English and Inglis were discussed, and the significance of various places, for instance St. Andrews as a clerical and legal centre of power were considered.

After a coffee break, Greg Walker gave a short talk about Kings James IV, V and VI.  Discussion of the political culture of early modern Scotland, how authority is distributed and the role of the king followed.  Tom Betteridge then spoke about David Lyndsay and his dual role at the Scottish court as herald and poet, saying that both gave Lyndsay authority as poetry wasn’t seen as a frivolous activity during the period.  Finally, Ellie Rycroft considered the dramatic tradition in which Lyndsay was writing and how Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis compares to other literature and drama of the time.

After lunch, the costume designer, Hilary Lewis, showed her designs to the cast and explained the rationale behind them.  The company seemed very happy overall with their costumes, especially the actor playing Hameliness, who was delighted she was going to look so feminine given that she usually plays small boys!


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Rehearsal blog – day one (7.5.2013)

28 actors, academics, stage crew and a director gathered in what Gregory Thompson called a ‘underground bunker’ to begin work on A Satire of the Three Estates on the hottest day of the year so far – hopefully a good omen for our outdoor production.

Greg T gave the actors an introduction about the sort of research project they will be working on – saying that the type of knowledge yielded through rehearsal and performance is a different but as important form of knowledge as that gained by scholars through literary research. Tom Betteridge added that it’s just as valid, and should be valued as much as archival and traditional scholarship.

Greg T told the actors “We have one job.  We have to make the text sing”, saying that every single word is as important as the next in the creation of David Lindsay’s story. He told the cast that they will be at a technical disadvantage as they will lack lighting and sound, but said that they will have music and what he called, the ‘human spotlight’, the rule by which an actor only looks at the person to whom they’re speaking to help focus the audience’s attention.

Greg Walker and and Tom explained the importance of performing this play in its entirety from a historical and cultural perspective, and Greg T suggested the research significance of asking the question, ‘what is this play’ and seeing it as a much more sophisticated piece of work than recent productions might suggest when compared to other sixteenth-century drama. But he also claimed that our purpose is to ‘delight and intrigue the audience, and give them a sense of what it might have been like to see this play in the sixteenth century’.

The actress Gerda Stevenson, playing Good Counsel, brought up a recent Sunday Herald article on the commonweal which she had found of interest, and Tom responded that the very concept of the commonweal is a difficult one, meaning common-wealth but also -weal, with the health connotation that this entails. Therefore it is not just geographical or ideological but also about a sense of collectivity, raising questions about authority and its distribution.

We moved on to a read-through, managing to cover Part One (split into a more manageable 2 parts) and what we call the ‘interval play’ (otherwise known as the ‘Interlude’ in morning, and part 2 in the afternoon (split into 3 parts). Despite the text unsurprisingly representing something of a struggle at points in terms of some of its obscure meaning and construction, it was exciting to see life breathed into it by the actors. Part One was especially lively and the comic potential of the Vice triad became obvious.  However, it was also evident that this is a difficult and occasionally clunky script which will need a good amount of actorly resource and skill to make it work as a piece of drama.  Greg W said that the ‘scale of the task ahead’ was shown by the reading, while Tom thought it was primarily the end that presented a the most difficulty theatrically.  Tomorrow we will start closer textual analysis on the play to start making sure every actor knows exactly what they are saying.


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