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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Bankside Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0908  Monday, 28 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Sep 1998 11:10:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0902  Re: Globe Merchant

[2]     From:   R. Thomas Simone <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Sep 1998 07:59:12 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: Globe Audiences


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Sep 1998 11:10:13 -0400
Subject: 9.0902  Re: Globe Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0902  Re: Globe Merchant

Take another look. Daughters disobeying their fathers in the name of
love was sometimes a necessary thing, but never a good one. It always
came on the heels of parental abdication of an unwritten law to rule
wisely and with love. Shakespeare saw the role of parents as he saw the
role of kings. A good king does not force his subjects, does not push
them into actions against heart and conscience. Neither does a good
parent. When either or both child and citizen are forced to rebel by the
abdication of right authority, confusion and danger and often death
ensues. Was it good for Juliet to rebel, or bad that her parents
abdicated their responsibility to create a peaceful, stable world for
her? In a well-regulated society, what could be wrong with a wealthy
well-born girl choosing from among her equally wealthy, well-born
suitors the young man she fancies best? But in a place of brawling civil
unrest, what choice would have been safe? Who might not find himself,
however reluctantly, in the middle of a street fight? Romeo was trying
to stop such a fight when he got into trouble.

In Merchant, some of Shakespeare's feeling about Jessica's elopement may
be detected in V.i. In the lovely, summer evening litany of lovers: "In
such a night as this..." the lovers mentioned are Cressid (abandoned),
Thisbe (committed suicide), Dido (abandoned), and Medea (abandoned). A
woman who elopes with a man has left all her natural and societal
protections and thrown herself on the mercy of her lover. She has no
dowry, unless she steals one, and no legal settlement protecting her
from having it stolen by her lover. If Lorenzo should die suddenly, what
will Jessica live on? If they have children? Elizabethans were a
litigious society, they knew the value of a contract. Jessica has no
legal protection. He married her? Not enough.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. Thomas Simone <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Sep 1998 07:59:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: Globe Audiences

This is an historical note and a comment about audience responses at the
Globe in London.  I believe that during last year's previews of HENRY V,
the audiences began booing and cheering on their own.  According to
stories told me by some of the people at the Globe, this took the actors
and directors by surprise.  So initially this was the audience's idea.
The encouragement of such responses may be hyped now because it worked
so well to get people interested last year.  And from a box office point
of view, the Globe was pretty much sold out in July and August of this
year.

We might also remember Hamlet's comments about groundlings, "who for the
most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable  dumb shows and noise"
(3.2.11-12).  Actually, all of Hamlet's directions to the actors make
more sense in the context of a Globe theater.  Apparently, Hamlet (maybe
Shakespeare too for all we know) had the same problems with actors and
audiences that many of us do.

In brief, I was less than impressed though by the Globe MERCHANT, which
seemed a shallow response to a troubling play.  I found the AS YOU LIKE
IT to be far superior, the best of the four Shakespeare productions I've
seen at the Globe.

The technical problem of the yard, though, remains a challenge to actors
and seasoned theater goers.  When I've been at the Globe the yard in
daytime, it  has been filled with casual groups of students and
tourists, many of whom have very little interest in the play at hand.
The yard, though is fun; I heard one secondary school chap egg his mates
on to go from the second gallery down to the yard, because it looked
more intersting there. The milling about and the relative lack of
interest in the plays per se in the yard, at such proximity to the
stage, make for a major problem in Globe productions.

I have found that comedy can work pretty well in the Globe.  The AS YOU
LIKE production, which has received much less comment on the list than
the MERCHANT, used steps from the stage front down into the yard and a
majority of entrances and exits through the yard as means to keep the
groundlings involved in the action of the play.  And the energy of the
play worked very well; my college age students from the States responded
quite enthusiastically to AS YOU LIKE IT, and half of them went to see
it again as groundlings on their own.

I wonder if the current Globe and the companies' understanding of it
will sustain the effective presentation of a tragedy.

The interest in the Globe, besides its historical or fantastical
evocation of things Elizabethan, rests in the completely different
audience/actor dynamic than in a traditional 19th/20th century theater.
The contrast in audience energy, whether positive or negative, between
the Globe and the big theater in Stratford is remarkable.

I find the Globe so far to be an intriguing and sometimes successful
experiment in the nature of theater.  How companies are able to learn
from the theater and to illuminate the Shakespeare plays from different
angles remains an on going project.

Tom Simone
University of Vermont
 

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