Globe Movement

Glynn MacDonald, the Master of Movement, is an Australian who came to London in 1968. She has a degree in English literature and a lifelong love of Shakespeare, but her work at the Globe is primarily informed by her mastery of the Alexander Technique. 'It's the Alexander Technique first and last, that's all I know," she says.

Glynn has been both a student and a teacher of the Alexander Technique for more than 30 years. She discovered it when she started to sing and her teacher suggested that she lacked control. 'As soon as I had Alexander lessons, I understood the fundamental principle that mind and body are the same thing. How I use my mind, body and posture has a profound effect on all I do.'

Glynn joined the Globe at the outset. 'I came when Mark came. He was keen to keep the idea of classes - like a ballet company - to keep the actors in touch with themselves, so that they would keep on working, keep on learning.'

In taking the Alexander Technique to the Globe, Glynn is bringing it full circle, since Alexander was a Shakespearean actor. In the 1890s, he started to lose his voice. Doctors finding nothing wrong, he concluded that the problem lay in his own responses. Glynn explains: 'The delicious thing about the technique is that it's so simple - though it isn't easy to put into practice. The key is stopping the wrong thing so that the right
thing can happen.'

Glynn holds classes three times a week. She sees her role as that of a tuner of instruments and uses her drum to help them keep time. 'There are no understudies at the Globe and the runs are long. We don't want too much tension in the actors' bodies so they become sharp. Nor do we want them so loose that they become flat.'

In the classes, she works on two exercises with significance for Shakespeare's world. The first involves the four elements of which the human psyche was believed to be composed: earth, water, fire, air. 'Air is the very breath of life. As we breathe in oxygen, we inspire not only physically but also creatively.' The second involves archetypes: King/Queen, Magician, Warrior, Lover. Adopting postures and letting them feed through the musculature, so that the actors instinctively remember these archetypal stances.'

'The most important thing is that the actors listen to each other, not just with their minds but with their bodies,' suggests Glynn. 'If the actors can't move, the audience won't be moved.'