Anne actors comments from the Globe

These comments are the actor’s thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through
the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently
change as the rehearsal process progresses.
Because Richard III is a history play, we've all been spending a lot of
time researching what actually happened, or what people think happened,
leading up to the Battle of Bosworth, and more importantly, who our
characters really were. This has really helped me start to get to grips
with the character of Lady Anne. I originally thought that Lady Anne was
simply a victim, a little like Ophelia in Hamlet. After all, at the beginning
of the play, she has nothing and no-one to support her; her parents are
dead, her husband has just died and she has no friends at court who can
help her. However, to view Lady Anne as a victim is to totally disregard
how she is actually portrayed in the text, but if you look at the history of
Lady Anne, who she is and what happens to her before the play starts,
she, and her relationship with Richard, begin to make a bit more sense.
Lady Anne's father was the Earl of Warwick, also known as the
Kingmaker, and perhaps the most powerful magnate in the land. During
the reign of Henry VI, Warwick helped the Duke of York (Richard's
father) and his son Edward (King Edward IV, Richard's brother) to fight
King Henry before switching allegiance to the crown, (hence Anne's
marriage to King Henry's son). When Anne was growing up, her father and
Richard's father were fighting on the same side. According to some of
the history books I've read, Richard and his other brother Clarence were
sent to stay with the Earl of Warwick when they were young, so Anne and
Richard, to a certain extent, grew up together and must have known each
other fairly well. Recently, I have been struggling with my first scene as
Lady Anne, act 1 scene 2. Just reading the scene, I found it very hard to
believe that a woman could be wooed in such a way, and with such success,
by her husband's murderer and I immediately realised that it could be
very hard to convince an audience not to dismiss Anne's agreeing to marry
Richard as pretence. You could play Lady Anne as a 'victim' in that scene;
her reason for accepting Richard as her husband could simply be her own
survival, but for me, this interpretation does not sit well with what
Shakespeare has written. Some of the conversations between Anne and
Richard remind me a little of those between Beatrice and Benedick in
Much Ado About Nothing; they are battles of wit:
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
Of these supposèd crimes to give me leave
By circumstance but to acquit myself
Vouchsafe, diffused infection of a man,
Of these known evils but to give me leave
By circumstance to accuse thy cursèd self. (ll. 75-80)
Instantly, Anne subtly changes what Richard has just said and throws it
back at him; they are intellectual equals and she obviously feels that,
despite her weak social position, she can counter him in this way. The
scene suddenly becomes more believable if you consider that Richard and
Anne knew each other as children; he isn't merely the murderer of her
husband, but someone she has known for years. I am now much happier
generally with the scene, and I feel that I can approach it honestly, but
I'm still working out how we can present the scene to an audience and
make them believe what they are seeing is genuine and true.
These comments are the actor’s thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through
the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently
change as the rehearsal process progresses.
Lady Anne’s first scene (i.2) is a fantastically theatrical scene; after all,
she is wooed over a dead corpse by the man that killed her father and
brother. During the first weeks of rehearsals, I was concentrating on
what it would feel like to have your family killed and then to meet the
murderer face to face. Before rehearsals started, I contacted several
victim support organisations and talked to them about some of those
people they’ve helped who, like Lady Anne, have come face to face with
those who are responsible for causing them immense pain. Some of these
people’s reactions are quite different to what you might expect; some
could do nothing but laugh, others were intensely angry, some overcome
with grief; all different ways of dealing with intensely emotional
situations. What I gained from this research is an intense understanding
of how emotionally fragile Lady Anne must be in this scene. Although she
puts on a brave face and curses Richard as viciously as she can,
underneath this act is a woman in intense pain.
At the moment, we’re still exploring whether act 1 scene 2 is a public or a
private scene. Although you could argue that wooing is often done in
private, it has been pretty much decided that I will make my entrance
through the yard, following the coffin of Henry VI. After making my
entrance through the groundlings, it will be difficult to pretend that
they’re not there! At the moment, I’m imagining them to be a crowd at
Henry’s funeral. I’ve also been wondering more about why Lady Anne
agrees to marry Richard, and I’m beginning to think that it’s because she
has nothing left to hold on to. Everybody has those conversations which
you walk away from thinking, ‘I wish I’d said…’. Well, Lady Anne does say
exactly what she wants to, and when she’s said it, her anger is spent.
Without her anger, she doesn’t have anything left to keep her wits
together, and I think this could be one reason why she agrees to marry
These comments are the actor’s thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through
the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently
change as the rehearsal process progresses.
Audience reactions are especially important in my first scene as Lady
Anne. It’s suddenly become very apparent that the audience will usually
be on Richard’s side during that scene and have little sympathy for Lady
Anne. I suppose that’s what Shakespeare intended, after all, the audience
has been introduced to Richard at the very beginning of the play, but
they know nothing about Lady Anne. In many ways, the scene between
them is simply an illustration of Richard’s charisma, to show how good he
is at bending people to his wishes. In the Globe space, there is no way
that the scene can be played as a private meeting between two people;
the fact that you can see 1,600 people watching you makes it impossible
to pretend that you’re alone; the scene becomes like a boxing match. The
key is to embrace this, and make sure that Lady Anne gives as good as she
gets, for as long as she can, and often the audience will respond to her as
she does this. At one point, Richard declares that he didn’t kill her
husband, and Lady Anne responds sarcastically; ‘Why then he is alive.’
Suddenly, an audience warms to Lady Anne in a way they haven’t done
previously. In the end, I always have to lose that fight with Richard, but,
for each performance, my objective is to show the audience that, despite
the fact that she is highly distraught and confused, it is believable for
her to accept Richard as her husband; it is not impossible to see how they
could work together as a couple.