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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: August ::
The New Globe
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0619.  Friday, 23 August 1996.

(1)     From:   Mike Field <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 Aug 1996 16:51:55
        Subj:   Reconstructed Globe

(2)     From:   Matt DeCoursey <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 Aug 1996 13:52:43 BST
        Subj:   First Performance at Reconstructed Globe Theatre

(3)     From:   Stephen Miller <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Aug 1996 15:02:30 -0400
        Subj:   The New Globe Last Night


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Field <
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Date:           Monday, 19 Aug 1996 16:51:55 -0400
Subject:        Reconstructed Globe

As I recall, this summer was to see the premiere of the recreated Globe theater
in London. I further recall that Shennandoah Shakespeare Express was to perform
there. Has this happened? Is there anyone out there who has either seen or
participated in a daylight production at the recreated Globe? How does the
stage "play" in terms of movement and actor-to-audience interaction?

Do the groundlings stand throughout? What kind of energy--or distraction--does
this bring to performance? I'd love to hear comments, on or off list.

Mike Field

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt DeCoursey <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 Aug 1996 13:52:43 BST
Subject:        First Performance at Reconstructed Globe Theatre

Last night's opening performance at the New Globe was a crowd-pleaser.  The
groundlings were feeling happy when they came in the door, comparing notes
about their interviews with the press in the queue.  They milled around,
greeted their friends, waved to acquaintances in the galleries.  When two
photographers climbed on the stage to take the audience's picture, there was
good-natured booing and "get off, get off."  When they did get off, they got a
round of applause.

The theatre, though uncompleted, is atmospheric.  The tiring-house is a
temporary one, apparently made of painted flats.  There is, however, a second
level that was used during the show.  Before the play began, we could see the
orchestra's instruments:  modern ones, including a drumkit and a bass.

The play, *Two Gentlemen of Verona*, turned out to be in modern dress. The more
aristcratic characters wear Italian suits and sip espresso at cafe tables. The
audience was at first subdued, but warmed to its role as commentator as the
show progressed, encouraged by the actors.  When Proteus (Mark Rylance)
hesitates to kiss Julia on parting, a friendly voice urged him to "Go on, my
son."  When Speed (Ben Walden) says of Proteus, "My master is some kind of a
knave," the audience evinced agreement.

The modern dress was disappointing to a Renaissance specialist like myself, but
it may be that it aided the interaction between audience and actors that was
the main charm of this production.  The cast was multiracial, with two black
actors, including Valentine, and one Indian.  The effect was to import modern
London into the theatre:  an effect I rather liked.  If the costumes had been
Elizabethan, would the audience have held its breath and revered the Great Bard
in silence?  That would have been more disappointing.

This first performance was in the evening, with full-spectrum floodlights
constantly on.  This afternoon, I will be going to the first matinee, on which
I will report tomorrow.

Matt DeCoursey
Catholic University of America

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Miller <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Aug 1996 15:02:30 -0400
Subject:        The New Globe Last Night

   London New Globe Theatre - prologue season

23 August 1996

With a friend I went along as a groundling to the second night of the
'prologue' season at the Globe Theatre on the South Bank in London.  We tried
too late to book for the first night which was sold out. The official Opening
Festival is scheduled for June of next year, labelled "A Fanfare of Firsts".

During this August and September, in addition to a series of performances by
the new company of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a touring Midsummer Night's
Dream by Northern Broadsides stops by for one night on 3 Sep.  Particularly
interesting to students of the period should be the initial production of the
'Rarely Played' series. As I understand, one-off productions are to be mounted
at the Globe of plays rarely done, beginning with Damon and Pythias done by an
all-female cast. That should be on 10 September.

Last night brought an interested audience, some of them rather grander and
older than might be expected.  They seemed attentive and willing to laugh.  The
new production by Jack Shephard ran nearly 3 hours.  Costumes were modern with
a few minimal cafe tables plus more substantial furniture for the duke brought
out from the central opening which has a sliding door.  Two side doors resemble
the DeWitt drawing.  The new stage is considered a temporary trial structure to
precede a permanent stage.  Certainly it is substantial, and the colourful
painting of the columns (red) and the painting of the fons as a rusticated wall
is not especially subtle.  The second level of the back wall is a large open
gallery with a clutch of musicians in the centre.

(Why not keep the idea of a stage that could be redesigned experimentally since
so little is known of the appearance of the original?)

Groundlings stand on a sort of tarmac surface, perhaps slightly raked for
drainage.  Not too many were crowded in.  To my thinking the space of the new
Globe is agreeable, almost intimate, whereas the stage seems surprisingly
large.  The fixed lighting required for evening performances is bright.  Strong
speaking voices are a must for actors, particularly with late evening jets
going overhead, and yes, when there is rain, the heads of those standing in the
pit really do get wet, even those standing near the eaves.

Notable among the cast were Mark Rylance (artistic director of the New Globe)
as Proteus, reminiscent of his Benedick a few years ago, the best I have seen,
and Anastasia Hille as Sylvia. Lennie James made a strong Valentine.

I had heard that audience members in the 'new' theatre would be encouraged to
participate, though the only notable example I noticed was a woman who asked
Launce, when he entered in a late scene without Crab, 'Where's your dog?'  He
did not respond.
 

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