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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: August ::
Re: New Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0816.  Tuesday, 5 August 1997.

[1]     From:   Steve Neville <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Aug 1997 08:58:08 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0813 Re: New Globe; Groundlings

[2]     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Aug 1997 08:28:40 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0813  Re: New Globe; Groundlings

[3]     From:   David Schalkwyk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 12:52:26 SAST-2
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0813  Re: New Globe; Groundlings


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Neville <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Aug 1997 08:58:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0813 Re: New Globe; Groundlings
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0813 Re: New Globe; Groundlings

Tom Simone writes:

<< One parallel comment on the RSC CYMBELINE.  I found it quite
 enthralling-with a strong Imogen, Edward Petherbridge as a magical
 Cymbeline, and some wonderful production effects.  by the why, Cloten
 was played by Guy Henry who was also a very funny Dr. Caius in WIVES.
>>

I, too,  thought Guy Henry very funny. What impressed me most, however,
was Edward Petheridge's portrayal of Krapp in  Beckett's _Krapp's Last
Tape_  a mere hour and a half after his fine performance as Cymbeline.
Brilliant.

Regards
Steve Neville

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Aug 1997 08:28:40 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0813  Re: New Globe; Groundlings
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0813  Re: New Globe; Groundlings

Carl Fortunato wrote:

> I find it surprising that they chose "The Winter's Tale" for the second
> performance in the Globe, since, unless I am mistaken, it was originally
> staged at the Blackfriar's instead of the Globe.  I suspect that the
> Globe is not very conducive to Shakespeare's romances.  They weren't
> written for it, and heck, the place burnt down while attempting to
> perform one there.

"The Winter's Tale" may very well have been performed at Blackfriars,
but the only record we have of a performance of the play during
Shakespeare's lifetime was at the Globe-witnessed by Simon Forman in
1611.

Dave Kathman

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Schalkwyk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 12:52:26 SAST-2
Subject: 8.0813  Re: New Globe; Groundlings
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0813  Re: New Globe; Groundlings

There can't be many people who have seen a performance of Henry 5 at the
new Globe on one night and found themselves riding Big Thunder Mountain
in Disneyland Paris the next...  From its inception the New Globe has
struggled to move out from the shadow of Disney, but my quite
coincidental experience has left me pondering anew the conjunction of
the two.

I approached both with a considerable degree of skepticism and
misgivings, and I was in both cases both pleasantly surprised and newly
skeptical.  As a "groundling" at the Globe I found the standing less
problematic than the Disney's remarkable exercises in crowd- control in
the form of interminable standing in lines.  I was also unprepared for
the sheer impression that the Globe makes on one once inside.
(Expecting it to stand out from its surroundings as the original theatre
must have done, I very nearly walked past it.) Once one is through the
doors, it's an imposing theatre, especially from below, and especially
in the combined bulk and lightness of the stage and heavens.  At the
same time, it is intimate, the intimacy being created by the fact that
the audience is illuminated throughout, that there is a refreshing
freedom to move about, talk, and touch the stage, and that the general
sense of being an isolated individual, cocooned in silence and darkness
is entirely absent.

My skepticism, however, arises from the question what it is supposed to
be and be doing, especially given the obsession with accuracy and
authenticity that seems to have dogged its attempts to be a "popular"
theatre.  After a while one realizes that despite all the hype in the
guidebooks about "authenticity", Disney need only be authentic to
himself.  From a political point of view, there is of course a great
deal to attack in this self-referential "authenticity", and I expect
that the avowals that the Globe will *not* be another theme park has
something to do with its proponents' sense that its authenticity will be
different: accurate, scholarly, historical, true.  I have no problems
with Gurr, Orrel, and the like pursuing a scholarly interest in the
actual properties of the historical Globe, or, if they can manage it,
indulging in the experiment of trying to reconstruct the thing
(although, there, again, lies an immense political debate).  My problem,
sharpened by watching Henry 5, lies in the attempt to conjoin the
authentic and the popular, the historical with the living in the search
for an original Elizabethan theatrical experience for the audience.  I
am puzzled by the notions of authenticity that will go so far as to make
the actors wear Elizabethan underclothes to force them to move in a
presumably authentic way, or to dye costumes in an authentical
Elizabethan solution of onion skin and urine, and yet stage the play in
a strongly directed twentieth-century mode or, for that matter, ignore
the small matter of the Heathrow flightpath in favour of the "original"
position of the Globe.

However careful one is about costuming or architectural detail, one
cannot recreate an Elizabethan audience, and that means that many moves
made in favour of authenticity will in fact alienate an audience who are
simply not at home with such a move.  Does a modern audience take men
playing the part of women in the way that an Elizabethan one would take
boys doing the same thing?  Or can it see Elizabethan costumes as
anything other than a sign of "authenticity"?  If the responses to
authenticity turn out to be, because of the weight and movement of
history, inauthentic, then why do it?

As a South African "groundling" I found the production (for that's what
it was) and the groundlings' "spontaneous" reactions very
uncomfortable.  Was the booing and hissing at the French and the
cheering of the English really "spontaneous", or did it arise from the
popular conception that to do this is to be a *real* groundling, a
*real* Elizabethan?  If to be authentic is to abandon all critical
engagement with the performance in favour of threadbare jingoism, no
doubt all great fun, then the sooner we turn our backs on it the
better.  It is perhaps the audience's belief that by acting like
"groundlings" they are being really Elizabethan that brings back the
connection with Disneyland.  In Disneyland, however, popularism is not
sicklied o'oer with the pale cast of scholarship.

I await the flack.

David Schalkwyk
University of Cape Town
 

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