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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: New Globe Theatre I
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0626.  Monday, 3 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Jun 1997 14:06:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625 New Globe Theatre

[2]     From:   Jodi Clark 303971 <
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        Date:   Monday, 02 Jun 1997 14:17:08 +0200 (IST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625 New Globe Theatre

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Monday, 02 Jun 1997 21:18:34 +1300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

[4]     From:   Franklin J. Hildy <
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        Date:   Monday, 02 Jun 1997 16:20:12 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

[5]     From:   Laura Fargas <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Jun 1997 17:33:00 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

[6]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Jun 1997 12:29:42 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

[7]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Jun 1997 20:24:05 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Jun 1997 14:06:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0625 New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625 New Globe Theatre

Granted, "reintroducing" heckling seems a bit over the top, but when I
toured the New Globe last summer and walked the width and breadth of the
stage, all those long speeches that seem so tedious on a proscenium
stage suddenly made sense.

Billy Houck

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jodi Clark 303971 <
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Date:           Monday, 02 Jun 1997 14:17:08 +0200 (IST)
Subject: 8.0625 New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625 New Globe Theatre

I wish to respond to the comment about the desire for authenticity in
Shakespeare.  My feeling is that in the reconstruction of the
conditions, the audience not only gets a feel for the play, but what it
was like to be there.  By only performing the play, we get the modern
version of a Elizabethan/Jacobean play.  By recreating the conditions in
which this play would have been performed, we give the audience and the
actors even more of a taste of Shakespeare's world.  Personally, I think
that is exciting and rather fun.  I do understand how people get rather
sick of the authenticity police coming around and analyzing how a
particular stitch on a doublet is not completely "period."  But in the
attempt to recreate the performance conditions, we get much more of a
sense of the history and culture of Shakespeare's time.  In any other
production, the audience might have only a brief inkling of what period
costumes were like and some grasp of the language.

I am of the school of thought that says Renaissance Faires should lean
toward more of the new Globe is doing, rather than becoming the hideous
theme-park monstrosities they are morphing into.  The educational value
of seeing living history as opposed to the dead words on the page is
staggering.  I will venturing into the teaching world in the fall and
hope to do some work with Shakespeare at Hingham High School (Hingham,
MA).  If I could take the students to London to see the production of
Henry V, I would.  I hope I will be able to take students there in the
future in order to experience this exciting theatre endeavor.

Sincerely,
Jodi Clark
Emerson College
Theatre Education, Graduate Program

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Monday, 02 Jun 1997 21:18:34 +1300
Subject: 8.0625  New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

Bob Stubbs writes

> Within the last week, a project first envisaged by Sam Wanamaker
> in 1949 was finally brought to fruition. An exact replica of the
> Globe Theatre has been completed at Southwark, London.

I expect those involved would want to deny that it's an "exact replica"
since the lack of evidence, especially for the interior decoration,
makes it much more a 'best guess'.

> The theatre of Shakespeare's day cannot be reproduced. Is it
> not more important to unpack and understand the many layers of
> meaning in Shakespeare's works than to produce what may be seen
> as a Disneyesque Theme Park type event?

An obvious response would be that the meaning might be in part
conditioned by the building and playing conditions for which a play was
written. The detail of costuming reconstruction might seem excessive,
but John Astington's article on how gallows scenes (that is, hangings)
were staged concluded that a stiff wicker harness was worn under the
victim's costume and the real suspension line (as opposed to the purely
cosmetic noose) was attached to the harness which took the force of the
'fall'. Such a harness would greatly inhibit movement, which is why
Bel-Imperia asks Horatio "why sit we not down?" in the arbour.

Even underwear seems worth reconstructing. The article is in Theatre
Notebook 37.1 (1983) pp3-9.

Gabriel Egan

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Franklin J. Hildy <
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Date:           Monday, 02 Jun 1997 16:20:12 -0400
Subject: 8.0625  New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

Bob Stubbs asks:

>Am I alone in wondering what exactly is the point in this seemingly
>endless quest for replication and quasi authenticity?

>The theatre of Shakespeare's day cannot be reproduced.

>Is it not more important to unpack and understand the many layers of
>meaning in Shakespeare's works than to produce what may be seen as a
>Disneyesque Theme Park type event?

>What do others think?

Bob Stubbs has once again raised those interesting questions concerning
authenticity in performance that have been asked in relation to
Shakespeare since at least the time of the Charles Kean production of
KING JOHN in 1823.   I am a great fan of authenticity and a great fan of
the  Globe (as well as a critic of it) and I would argue that there are
many "layers of meaning in Shakespeare's work" that can only be unpacked
by the kind of experimental work that is now being done at the Globe-
but I'm not sure the list wants to get into all this again.

I am honestly perplexed by his reference to a "Disneyesque Theme Park
type event," however.    This comparison between the Globe and Disney
has been made for so long that it makes me wonder if anyone has ever
bothered to examine it.  Certainly when it comes to an interest in
authenticity, the two organizations would seem to be at polar
opposites.  I am ashamed to say that the only "Disneyesque Theme Park" I
have ever found time to visit is the Epcot Center,  and that visit was
only as part of a technology tour organized by the US Institute for
Theatre Technology some years ago.    So I am hardly an expert on
Disneyesque parks.  But my theatre work has given me occasion to talk
with several Disney "imagineers" over the years and I have had former
students working for Disney on occasion.  I have yet to hear or read
that authenticity has ever been a goal of any of the Disney projects,
however.  Is there some hidden depths at Disney that I have missed?  All
the buildings at Epcot, for example, are built of fiberglass and poured
concrete.  As far as I know they intended the same thing for the
American history park they proposed, and then backed out of, in Virginia
in 1993-95.  The Disney people seem to be in 100% agreement with those
who do not see any value to authenticity and therefore do not attempt to
employ it .   Could someone enlighten me, then, as to what is meant by
linking the Disney Co.  to historic authenticity?   I would  have
thought, for example, that Colonial Williamsburg, or something like the
Henry Ford Museum, would be the obvious institutions for comparison, or
perhaps some of the many historic theatres of Europe I have visited
where  "authentic" productions are attempted (say the Drottningholm in
Sweden or the Almagro in Spain).  One could even compare all this
authenticity at the Globe to the numerous early music groups that insist
on using replicas of historic instruments to play period music on.  Is
it just that these comparisons are not derogatory enough for those who
aren't interested in what the Globe is trying to do?

Ultimately if you are sold on deconstruction there is indeed little
value    to the kind of authenticity Dr.  Stubbs has questioned-but I'll
bet you would find the productions interesting just the same and a
fascinating postmodern collision of high culture with popular culture.
But keep in mind that for the last one hundred years about half of the
people working in professional theatre have viewed their task as the
translation of a playwrights work into a performance text that is
meaningful to a modern audience.  (The other half see the playwright as
just one of many contributors to the production who should have no
special privileges.) For those who privilege the playwright it seems
valuable to actually know something about the work being
translated---just as it might be more interesting and effective to know
French if you want to translate Fucault,  it might be more interesting
to know something about Elizabethan staging techniques if you are going
to translate a Shakespearean performance.   So for this group of theatre
artists it is not possible to know too much about the original method of
production for a play even though complete knowledge is not possible and
no two productions of any play have ever been the same.  And for the
audience it is just interesting in the way that historic reenactments
are interesting-it may also be a refreshing change-I mean, how many 19th
century or modern dress productions of Shakespeare can you see before it
becomes just so passe you can hardly stand it?

Dr.  Franklin J.  Hildy
Director, Southeastern Region
Shakespeare Globe Centre

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Fargas <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Jun 1997 17:33:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0625  New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

Apologia: I'm a working poet and this will be a wholly unscholarly
answer.

> Bob Stubbs asked:
>
> Am I alone in wondering what exactly is the point in this seemingly
> endless quest for replication and quasi authenticity?

Joy.

There may be (in my view, certainly are) other reasons, but why can't
the sheer sizzling pleasure of it be first?

> The theatre of Shakespeare's day cannot be reproduced.

Of course not.  Instead, the best one can hope for is the exquisite
dilemma posed in Borges' story, "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote."

For one thing-the one thing that in its own way would be most wonderful
to me-we'd need Henslowe's Rose a hundred yards away with its stinking
drain enlivening the reading of 'a rose by any other name,' and Ned
Alleyn still bombasting out old Hieronimo to compete for the
groundlings' copper so that Shakespeare would always only be as good as
his next play.  We would have to have a first act when Hamlet's life is
full of choices and we wonder if by God he'll do it pat.

Until a time machine is invented, I'm grateful for the New Globe. In
fact, in some moods I'm goofily exuberant about the New Globe.

> Is it not more important to unpack and understand the many layers of
> meaning in Shakespeare's works than to produce what may be seen as a
> Disneyesque Theme Park type event?

To my mind, the answer to this question is neither yes nor no.

This invites a ranking of the 100 Most Important Things To Do
With/About/Concerning Shakespeare.  Which invites the debate, important
to whom, as well as all the other possible debates.  It also suggests
that there's just one single pool of resources that can be allocated to
All Stuff Relating To Will S., and that we-whoever "we" are-must husband
and apportion them in some careful central fashion.  Not so, Mr.
Interlocutor.

For me, there's a certain charm in taking a naive stance in favor of
replicating the sensory side of Shakespeare on a day when the Bad
Critical Writing Contest results have dropped on this list.  I want to
see what the sun of that latitude looks like when it hits a doublet dyed
with indigo-sunny day, cloudy day, soaked with sweat.  I want to smell
the thatch.  These things will give me great pleasure, and I can't
wait.  I also look forward to reading all the intricate and sometimes
exquisite scholarly thinking that interrogates every aspect of the
Shakespearean universe, including my ability to have and articulate
these (faux?) naive feelings.

Laura Fargas

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Jun 1997 12:29:42 -0700
Subject: 8.0625  New Globe Theatre
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

What interests me most, Bob, is how the "Elizabethian and early Stuart
audience norms of heckling and informality" were being touted a few
years back as liberating us in some vague, neo-Brechtian manner.  Now we
see that they're just another piece of period bric-a-brac that can be
fetishized with all the organic fabrics and puffy clothes of Merchant
Ivory-esque commodification.

As for whether the Globe should be reconstructed, my response is
something like "sure, why not.  Call it an experiment."  On the other
hand, this loving recreation of the past strikes me as a peculiarly
British sort of nostalgia.  Perhaps it's the flip side of the iconoclasm
of a decade of Tory rule that only the most materialistic, consumerist
sorts of nostalgia are any longer tolerated.

Cheers,
Sean

[7]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Jun 1997 20:24:05 +0100
Subject: 8.0625  New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

I'm afraid, Bob, I agree. Is this the equivalent of the 'authentic'
movement in music? It is authentic in all the externals - if indeed it
is - but we have irrevocably changed in cultural, religious, social and
political ideologies since then. Our actors, directors. audiences have
TOTALLY shifted their approach to Shakespeare, and play-going. This is
theme-park Shakespeare, and I am afraid this exactly what peter Brook
would call 'deadly theatre' ('The Empty Space'). It is now in the 'Oh,
Elmer, did you see that ruff?' school of literary / theatrical
criticism. What has astonished me is the involvement of so excellent an
actor as Mark Rylance in the project. It'll make money - in the
summer-but is it art?

Stuart Manger
 

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