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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: New Globe Theatre
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0631.  Wednesday, 4 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Brad Morris <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 10:50:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: New Globe Theatre -- lighten up

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 12:31:28 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 8.0626  Re: New Globe Theatre

[3]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 15:24:04 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625 New Globe Theatre

[4]     From:   Gabriel Wasserman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 03 Jun 1997 19:26:29 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

[5]     From:   John Lee <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 10:28:19 +0900 (JST)
        Subj:   Globe

[6]     From:   Michael Skovmand <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 12:38:01 MET
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0627  Re: New Globe Theatre II

[7]     From:   Eric Weil <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 09:20:17 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0627 Re: New Globe Theatre II


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brad Morris <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 10:50:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: New Globe Theatre -- lighten up

>> 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.

Bob, I think that there is nothing wrong with this "quest," as you call
it. The thing is this: how many people out there think Shakespeare is
boring?  Tons. Well, if by doing an authentic show and trying to
recreate everything just so, don't you think people who normally
wouldn't take an interest in Shakespeare take a second look at this? And
even if that's not even remotely the point, why do you care? If it
bothers you so much, don't go see anything at the new Globe. Don't read
about it in the paper.

I think it's a neat idea, and if I could afford to cross the pond, I'd
go to a show in a heartbeat. You seem to be think that more effort
should be directed towards "unfolding the language" or something like
that. Well, I agree with you, but there are lots of people in the world,
and people are certainly entitled to produce an "accurate" Shakespeare
if they want to.  Also, it's kind of like medical research-there are
different researchers working on different things. Just because I think
more people should be working on HIV research than cancer research
doesn't mean that the cancer researchers should quit what they're doing
and jump in on the HIV work.

I guess the bottom line is if you don't like it, don't go see it.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 12:31:28 -0400
Subject: Re: New Globe Theatre
Comment:        SHK 8.0626  Re: New Globe Theatre

Sean Lawrence thinks that the new Globe represents a 'peculiarly British
sort of nostalgia'. It doesn't. The whole project has an unmistakable
and entirely captivating American flavour. On its completion, the
British government hastened to award its instigator the title of
'Commander of the British Empire'. I don't think he ever saw the joke.

Terence Hawkes

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 Jun 1997 15:24:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0625 New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625 New Globe Theatre

Mr. Stubbs' remarks sent me scurrying for my Preface to Hamlet, wherein
Granville-Barker says the following:

"... we had better not too unquestioningly thrust him back within the
confines his genius has escaped, nor presume him to have felt the
pettier circumstances of his theatre sacrosanct.  Nor can we turn
Elizabethans as we watch the plays; and every mental effort to do so
will subtract from our enjoyment of them."

While Poel and Granville-Barker did us a great service by getting rid of
the more bizarre types of staging, a la Irving and Tree, and while they
succeeded in creating renewed interest in the original texts of
Shakespeare's plays, it is interesting to note that G-B himself may have
disagreed with this particular, circumstantial approach at the New
Globe.

As a performer, I'm fascinated with the possibilities of this approach,
as extreme as it may appear.  And I like the revival of old staging
techniques for the same reason I enjoy Sir Christopher Hogwood's
recordings of the baroque on original instruments, in original tempo.  I
may not, in the end, prefer Hogwood's Pachelbel Canon in D, but my
appreciation of the piece would be incomplete without it.

Attempts to revive the old staging techniques, and especially the old
dialects with which the plays were performed, may liberate future
companies and reveal more legitimate ways in which to break from the BBC
productions we have accepted as the standard until now.

If my comments seem to be mixed, perhaps they are.  As extremes go, I
find this extreme approach at the New Globe to be more promising than
most we have seen this century (pace Freud, Marx).

Andy White
Arlington, Virginia

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Wasserman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 03 Jun 1997 19:26:29 -0400
Subject: 8.0625  New Globe Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0625  New Globe Theatre

> Am I alone in wondering what exactly is the point in this seemingly
> endless quest for replication and quasi authenticity?
> One might as well ask what the point is in having an old-spelling edition of

Shakespeare.  Most of us here on SHAKSPER think such a question to be
many-answered-For example, read Hardy's *Material Text*.  I sometimes
wonder, "What is the point of a NON-original-spelling text."  The point
of this is to have REAL Shakespeare-Not modern reproductions.  Who wants
to see D'avenant's *Macbeth* these days, for example?  Nobody. We want
REAL Shakespeare.

> 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?

Theme park?

Best wishes to all,
Gabriel Z. Wasserman

P.S: Is it just coincidence that Eric Sams is exactly 362 years older
than Shakespeare, or is it, perhaps, an act of God? (Eric Sams-b. May 3,
1926--new style) (William Shakespeare, b. April 23?, 1564--Old style)

[Editor's Note: My paper referred to above "Valuing the Material Text: A
Plea for a Change in Policy Concerning Selection of Reference Texts for
Future New Variorum Shakespeare Editions, with Examples from the 1609
Quarto of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS" can be obtained by sending the command
GET MATERIAL TEXT to 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 . HMC]
[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Lee <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 10:28:19 +0900 (JST)
Subject:        Globe

Is it fair to say that the reconstruction of the Globe shares not only
similarities with the authentic music movement but also with the
publication of of the various quartos of the plays?  These can be
usefully thought of in terms of scores? and the purpose is not to
recreate the original (though some seem to think it is for the texts,
and the Globe does make this claim)?

This argument heads back, it seems to me, into the issues of original
spelling and punctuation, and the relative usefulness of various texts.

Yours,  John Lee

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 12:38:01 MET
Subject: 8.0627  Re: New Globe Theatre II
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0627  Re: New Globe Theatre II

In reply to John Drakakis and others, as to the 'relevance' of the New
Globe: As someone who has just experienced both The Winter's Tale* and
Henry V at the New Globe, I can attest to the fact that it is an eye-
and ear-opening experience. The exact replication of every detail down
to the fabric of underwear may be a relevant aspect of the Globe as an
educational institution, but can be of little interest to the general
playgoing audience.  No - what is truly fascinating  is the concrete
experience of  stage - audience relations in such a theatre. Academic
knowledge about this is one thing -  being there opens your eyes and
ears to the radical difference of this kind of theatre - especially to
one like myself who came straight from  two  'conventional' Shakespeare
performances at the RSC in Stratford. Three features which immediately
strike you by their  radical difference:

1: the players can see the audience, i.e. tell whether they are
attentive, bored, distracted, leaving. In other words, the players are
in a very real sense playing TO the audience - all of a sudden one
understands all those appeals  ' gently to hear, kindly to judge, our
play' in Shakespeare's plays. There is a real sense of  the players
needing  to keep their audience interested, rather than the sense of a
self-contained world with the audience as Peeping Toms that we get in
the traditional theatre.

2. The audience position makes for far more 'distracted viewing'
(paralleling the distinction between tv and cinema viewing). We can see
other people moving back and forth, buying drinks etc., we can see the
groundlings, if we are in the galleries, and the groundlings see, hear
and rub elbows with one another. (I tried both - you are actually
allowed to leave your gallery seat and move on to the floor, if you
wish).  Daylight and the semicircular structure mean that there is far
less 'enforced focus' than in our traditional theatre, which in turn
means that the actors have to work  hard to create that focus. Again,
the audience relation is paramount - a constant awareness on the part of
the actors whether they've got a hold on the audience - and a far less
automatic  obligation on the part of the audience to be nice and
attentive.

3. The prominence of the groundlings. There is a  kind of double vision
from the gallery audience - of the stage action and of the interaction
between groundlings and actors.  The two plays I saw were very different
in this respect: WT was a strange, curiously conceived North African -
type Nomadic  staging which did not invite  very much audience
interaction, whereas Henry V -  a national monument in its own right
since the 1944 Olivier film, and a play which by its very  structure
opens up to the audience through choric addresses and declamation,
invited direct audience response again and again. Granted - this type of
audience response was a bit awkward or self-conscious at times - but
what is more important - you had a real feeling of RISK - of  the
possibility of the play getting out of hand - of actors falling out of
character because of the interjections from the audience. In other words
- you had a real sense of the actors having to be in control  without
being a spoilsport- a bit like a school teacher  in a classroom  of
high-spirited students.

Generally, it struck me how non-illusory Shakespeare's theatre actually
was. Two points: one is the doubling, where e.g. in WT the (presumed
dead) Hermione doubles as a servant. I found people's response to that
to be mixed.  The other point is to do with Henry V, where the women
were played by men/boys. Is a modern INTERACTIVE i.e. undisciplined
audience ready for that - or will it be responded to as drag
performance, as it was that night at the Globe -  at least by the
groundlings, whereas the politically correct gallery audience seemed to
accept  the transvestites as 'representing' women  ...?

In conclusion, I can only urge all SHAKSPERians to shuffle off that coil
of  haughtiness and cynicism  and give the New Globe a try. It's not the
only way to play Shakespeare, but it certainly  gives you a startlingly
new sense of the priorities of  Shakespearean  conditions of  writing
and performance.

Michael Skovmand
U. of  Aarhus

[7]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric Weil <
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Date:           Wednesday, 4 Jun 1997 09:20:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0627 Re: New Globe Theatre II
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0627 Re: New Globe Theatre II

The discussion of the New Globe puts me in mind of Colonial Williamsburg
(in Virginia, USA) which is, to borrow from John McWilliams' posting,
both meticulous scholarship and slick packaging.  For example,
Williamsburg went many years with little acknowledgment of slavery.
Now, following considerable scholarship and a changing political
climate, actors portray slaves and docents describe the contributions of
slaves and free persons of color in the community.  Why are slaves now
portrayed?  Not solely for historical accuracy, but also for increasing
the potential audience (and revenue).  The furniture makers are
fascinating to watch; however, I have no doubt that these craftsmen with
their period tools are influenced by their knowledge of modern power
tools.  It's unavoidable.  Why shouldn't the New Globe do the same sort
of thing?  There are hundreds of productions of Shakespeare's plays
every year that seek to reveal layers of meaning, and that's fine.  I
say let the New Globe be a place where the old ways are tried.  Our
understanding of period techniques will change, and achieving period
accuracy will always be elusive.  If this makes the New Globe too
"Disneyesque" for some SHAKSPEReans, shucks, go to the Royal Shakespeare
Co.

Eric Weil
Shaw U.
 

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