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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
The Globes Audience in the Future
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1620  Wednesday, 1 September 2004

[1]     From:   Dan Smith <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 14:46:12 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1612 The Globes Audience in the Future

[2]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 07:54:11 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1612 The Globes Audience in the Future

[3]     From:   Kim Carrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 13:21:14 -0400
        Subj:   The Globe's Audience in the Future


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 14:46:12 +0100
Subject: 15.1612 The Globes Audience in the Future
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1612 The Globes Audience in the Future

In response to Kate's experience at the globe:

 >? You can never tell
 >how that person will act; does that make it more interesting?

I throw in (literally) the following. During Twelfth Night II.2.678 at
the end of Malvolio's speech:

Come, sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her
will is, it should be so returned: if it be worth
stooping for, there it lies in your eye; if not, be
it his that finds it.

He threw down the ring onto the stage. It bounced off the stage and
landed at my feet. Viola and Malvolio inevitably stopped and looked into
the crowd.  I pitched the ring back. Both the pause and the delayed
reappearance of the ring raised a laugh. It might have fitted the text
better and also raised a laugh if I had pocketed the ring and feigned
innocence. It was played so I wasn't sure if it was intentional
(probably that is the only way to play it). If anybody else saw this
same bit of business more than once I will know it was planned...

Dan Smith

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 07:54:11 -0700
Subject: 15.1612 The Globes Audience in the Future
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1612 The Globes Audience in the Future

 >on plays that have put the audience
 >right in the centre of things. The reaction is fascinating; they simply
 >clump together and freeze up. It's like they are scared to be
 >incorporated with the actors play.

Thankfully, this is not the case with children. They still have the
ability to incorporate themselves into the action; it's quite thrilling.

Colin Cox

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kim Carrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Aug 2004 13:21:14 -0400
Subject:        The Globe's Audience in the Future

I have been reading posts in this thread with great interest and I would
like to throw some personal observations into the mix.

As an actor who specializes in Shakespeare I have worked in
"traditional" fourth-wall productions, experimental "auteur" driven
productions - which I now avoid like the plague - and those which
attempt to recreate an Elizabethan way of performing. (Please see my
post in the thread "The Tucker Method" for more details on this).

I recently had the thrilling (and exhausting) experience of playing
Richard III in this method. The company with which I worked is a touring
company and we usually perform outdoors. When we are indoors we "break
the barrier" of the fourth wall whenever possible. Having now played 15
of Shakespeare's characters this way I am convinced that Elizabethan
audiences were much more involved and responsive than modern audiences.
I am also beginning to see moments in the text of the plays that - to be
fully effective - demand that interaction with the audience.

Before each performance of "Richard III" our pre-show announcements
included urging the audience to respond to things they did and did not
like with boos and hisses. It may sound silly but it served to "let the
audience off the hook" in terms of THEIR behavior. This made them much
more comfortable interacting with us. That comfort level produced some
amazing discoveries, such as I found following the Richard/Lady Anne
scene. The audience would protest as Lady Anne began to give in to me,
and become very vocal in the final monologue, which would go something
like this (audience response in parens):

"Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour wonne? (Grumble, hiss..)
Ile have her, but I will not keepe her long.
(BOO! HISS! WHAT A SWINE!)
What? I that kill'd her Husband, and his Father," etc...

Can you imagine how delightful it was to discover that my "What?" was
the perfect response to the audience uproar? And this is only one
example - similar moments happened throughout the play. The "nightmare"
speech and the address to the troops elicited particularly strong
responses. But the example I mentioned above makes me pity a Richard in
a "fourth wall" production who will never have the opportunity to
experience that reaction and wonder (as I did) "Is that reaction what
Shakespeare expected? Is that why I say 'What'?"

I have to agree and disagree with Don Bloom's points. He is certainly
correct when he says that "interaction with the audience creates special
burdens for the actors" though I would say calling them "burdens" is
unduly harsh. Interaction creates special demands, however and not all
actors can deal with them. But restoring what he calls the "progress of
the play" is not nearly as difficult as he seems to believe. The more
readily the audience participates, the more easily they go back on track
with you. But when Mr. Bloom responds to Ms. Pierce that he does not
think we have "become so distant" from Shakespeare's audience
interaction, I have to disagree. Unfortunately, many have. Witness Mr.
Cantrell's statement that many come as "students" of the work, to see if
it is "done right". I have performed with audience members looking away
from us to consult the copy of the play they have in their lap. I wonder
why they bother to come at all.

My experience in performing Shakespeare in a more interactive mode has
shown me that audience members who felt "defeated" by studying
Shakespeare in school not only find that they enjoy it, many understand
it to a degree they did not think themselves capable. I cannot say it
any better than Scott Sharplin did in his post: "Theatre is much more
lively, unpredictable, and vital when the audience allows themselves to
participate".

Kim H. Carrell
Actor/Fight Director
AEA/AFTRA/SAFD
www.kimcarrell.com

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