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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: New Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0741  Friday, 7 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:05:41 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0737  Re: New Globe

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Aug 1998 05:55:43 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 9.0737  Re: New Globe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:05:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0737  Re: New Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0737  Re: New Globe

The sound of a yelping audience

Some months ago, on a cold Wednesday afternoon, my fellow actors and I
looked at each other with wild surmise as we heard over the speakers in
our dressing rooms the hoots and hollers, squeals and yells of a high
school audience let out of their prisons to come and see Ronald
Harwood's `Taking Sides' at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. There were
ten minutes left before curtain-up, and the noise increased. As I
watched the beginning of the play on the closed-circuit television, my
pity for the three actors onstage soon became mixed with a thrilling
admiration for the ability of these unpractised teenagers to hear and
respond to the lines, which in this particular play are largely argument
about art and ideology.

When I made my slow entrance as Wilhelm Furtwaengler in a long black
overcoat with lambskin collar, my hair greyly flying, there was loud
derisive laughter. The conscious part of me agreed with the tousled
tykes that I looked ridiculous, an arty farty gentleman standing
opposite a boorish soldier, and this encouraged me to be more
"dignified" than ever.  As the argumentative events of the play ran
their course, we enjoyed some of the most powerful silences I have
encountered as audience or performer, and knew that when the youngsters
began to cheer the old musical curmudgeon rather my philistine
interrogator that we "had 'em".

Truthfully, I would rather have the "respectful silence" of our very
boring and self-conscious twentieth century theatre, but I do know that
there is a disgraceful falseness about it. There is an equal falseness
about productions that pretend to encourage participation, as the story
about the interfering clown yesterday illustrated well. Just to get
people to shout YES! to "Do you believe in fairies?" to keep
Tinkerbell's light alive in `Peter Pan' strikes me as artistically
insufficient. But to hear no gasps when Isabella appears to surrender,
to hear only silence when Lear awakens to Cordelia's voice...these are
indeed occasions when we would be better off reading a book.

It doesn't need saying that we've no real idea what an Early Modern
audience sounded like, but they sure as eggs is eggs didn't sound like a
1998 subscription crowd, or, worse, those who laugh at Shakespeare's
jokes because they imagine they understand them and want their
neighbours to know it.

        Harry Hill

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Aug 1998 05:55:43 -0400
Subject: Re: New Globe
Comment:        SHK 9.0737  Re: New Globe

Maybe -at last- some of the audience have started to resent the immense
condescension underlying the whole project? Like most theme-park
re-creations, the New Globe offers Culture viewed from the top down
disguised as Culture seen from the bottom up. It can't be long before
the Queen officially designates it a symbol of our national heritage.

Terence Hawkes
 

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