The Dutch Courtesan

Rehearsal Diaries

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    In this series of posts, the project interns track the ongoing rehearsals…

    diary

    Rehearsal: 20th May. Author: Amy-Rhianne Milton

    Act 1 Scene 1, Nick Armfield (Freevill), Stevie Jeram (Malheureux), Dan Cornwell (Mulligrub)

    Act 4 Scene 2, Freevill, Malheureux.

    The play opens as young gallants Freevill, Malheureux, Tysefew and Caqueteur tease the landlord Mulligrub, who, we soon learn, has just had his prize goblets stolen. There is an immediate sense of friendship and ‘lad’s banter’ between the four friends, but a social hierarchy is quickly established.

    Freevill is the obvious ringleader of the little pack, as he jokes and taunts the other men, clearly seeking the spotlight and attention. Nick (playing Freevill), experiments with degrees of charm and mischievous cruelty, and he delivers his jibes and jests with cheeky smiles and easy confidence. On the other hand, Malheureux (played by Stevie) comes off as slightly less confident, and certainly more reserved than the vain and smutty Freevill. Despite their differences, it is clear they are very close friends. Malheureux often sets Freevill up for the punch line of the jokes, and they both seem to need each other approval and support. They are very much a dynamic duo as actors and this gives their characters depth as they use the jokes and positions of power to experiment with their character’s relationship. This leads to them bouncing off each other’s energy and suggestions as they mock their crooked host, Mulligrub.

    While rehearsing Act 4 Scene 2, Nick works on a soliloquy in which Freevill reveals his selfish nature and justifies risking his friend’s life to teach him a lesson. Some time is given to making sure the language is understood and conveying the meaning of the speech, while the rest is devoted to exploring Freevill’s motivation and understanding his crooked way of thinking. Stevie, however, explores how Malheureux presents himself as a ‘desperate romantic’, how much he trusts the deceptively comforting and supportive Freevill, and how he seems to both love and hate the immoral temptations Freevill leads him to. He spends time working on his storytelling in this scene, working on understanding the language to help convey Malheureux’s conflicting emotions.

    Several things became clear during these rehearsals. While Freevill and Malheureux are close friends, it becomes apparent that they are driven by their own, often contradictory, desires. The pressure on their friendship explored in earlier rehearsals, when Malheureux objects to Freevill’s visiting a courtesan, are now exaggerated and made dangerous. The challenge in later rehearsals will be to find and track the moment-by-moment changes that plot each character’s trajectory across the play, and further explore how they work against each other.