‘Whoever knew the heavens menace so?’ [day 4]

26th April 2012

There was bright sunshine when I stepped out of the tube this morning (at 6.20, thanks for asking). But pretty soon the dark clouds were gathering, and not long after that there was the first of several bursts of torrential rain. There’s a respite now – early afternoon – but today we also have intentional rain inside. We have moved on from Brutus’ orchard and now we’re in a rather grim alleyway just off the market (that’s a detail above from one of the boarded-up shop fronts). It’s night-time and, yes, it’s raining. Although it wasn’t this morning when we shot Act III, Scene 3, the murder by the mob of Cinna the poet.

One of the frustrations of writing a blog like this so far ahead of completion of the film (and indeed the stage production) is that we don’t want to give away too much. So I’m not going to tell you how Cinna dies, and nor am I going to talk about the way that Greg Doran and director of photography Steve Lawes decided to film it. With luck, those aspects of this production will still be a surprise when you see the film later this year.

Now it is raining inside – for this is Act I Scene 3, the scene in which Cicero, Casca and Cassius meet in the marketplace. We have a modest rain effect which very quickly floods the floor. It’s essential in contexts like this to keep the actors as dry and as warm as possible. So when we’re not actually turning over, the actors are wrapped in dressing gowns with hot water bottles and other wraps.

This is a long sequence of exchanges which, after we have run it a couple of times as rehearsal and to let the camera crew understand the relationships of the people, we work towards some master shots and then shorter, tighter details. Will we finish it tonight, as we intended to? With something like two and a half hours to go, my sense is not.

It seems strange to reflect that we are alrrady over over quarter of the way through the shoot. Yet there’s no doubt that we’re all very tired – I fell asleep on the tube home last night and very nearly missed my station. But the time of a film shoot can be strange – lunch already seems quite a while ago, even if it was a tough call between pork belly or seafood risotto; and if you’re ever in these parts, the chocolate and orange sponge with chocolate sauce can also be highly recommended. [In progress]

Previously on the Julius Caesar blog:

‘Peace. Count the clock.’, 25 April
‘When it is lighted, come and call me here’, 24 April
‘Tell us the manner of it’, 23 April
‘Their battles are at hand’, 21 April
‘A very pleasing night to  honest men’, 17 April
‘Be patient till the last’, 12 April
‘Now they are almost on him’, 6 April
‘A mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome’, 2 April
‘Tell us what hath chanced today’, 30 March
‘Shakespeare’s Africa play’, 29 February
‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…’, 24 November


  1. Helene says:

    Did somebody say “chocolate”? Yummy.

    I’m hoping that after the film airs you’ll be able to go into some of the details that you’re unable to do so now.

    Sorry to hear about the rain; we could sure use some of it here in dry Pennsylvania.

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