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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
The Globes Audience in the Future
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1584  Wednesday, 25 August 2004

[1]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 11:43:12 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1574 The Globes Audience in the Future

[2]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 23:17:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1574 The Globes Audience in the Future

[3]     From:   Louise Casini <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 02:38:32 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1563 The Globes Audience in the Future


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 11:43:12 -0400
Subject: 15.1574 The Globes Audience in the Future
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1574 The Globes Audience in the Future

 >While the tendency for an audience to "hide in the dark" was certainly
 >encouraged by cinema, I think it started earlier, with the rise of the
 >proscenium stage in the 19th century.

Scott Shaplin's history is a little fuzzy.  Thomas More and many another
early modern gentleman before and after put on plays in their halls and
great chambers, as did Oxbridge colleges, the Inns of Court, and the
Tudor and Stuart monarchs.  The Children of the Chapel offered indoor
performances in the old Blackfriars monastery from 1576 to the early
1580s, and Shakespeare and the King's Men resumed the practice in 1608,
so successfully that several other professional companies also set up
indoor theaters.  Except perhaps for the Red Bull, the outdoor theaters
fell into desuetude during the Commonwealth period, and most (including
the Globe) were torn down. Developments on the Continent meant that new
proscenium theaters inspired by French models were built in London after
the Restoration; the proscenium format thus dominated theatrical
practice in English from 1660 on.

Things changed, however, after World War II.  As the consort of a
professional drama critic I've seen productions in at least a hundred
different venues from Epidaurus to Oregon, and can confidently assert
that a great deal of contemporary theater goes on in relatively intimate
spaces where there is little or no sense of fourth wall.  In refitted
store fronts and garages and church dining rooms, as well as
purpose-built black boxes, indeed in some large and extremely well
equipped purpose-built theaters such as the Festival Theater in
Stratford, Ont., spectators can be kept sharply aware that they are
occupying the same space and breathing the same air not only as the
actors but as the other spectators.  Indeed, that sense of communal
experience is part of the appeal of going to the movies, too, as we all
know when the sad case in the row behind us chatters away or snores or
slurps those last few drops of cola from the bottom of the cup.  It's
only when we are sitting alone in front of the TV set or computer
monitor watching electronically transmitted images that we can really
"hide in the dark."

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 23:17:09 -0400
Subject: 15.1574 The Globes Audience in the Future
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1574 The Globes Audience in the Future

When Paul Barry did "The Entertainer" in the early 80's, he complained
to me that he could not get a contemporary US audience to provide the
backchat wanted for the music-hall scenes. That notwithstanding, I feel
I must point out that what with theatre-in-the-round, thrust stages, and
the better part of a century of Globe replicas, US Shakespeare, at
least, has permitted, if not perhaps encouraged outright, a greater
degree of interaction, emotionally, if not verbally, than the "fourth
wall" tradition of the Lyceum. What is happening at the Globe is not so
alien to experienced US Shakespeareans as it seems to be in practice to
many in the UK.

On this subject, I always remember Eric Booth's 1978 Hamlet, in which
the soliloquies were taken down front, and spoken to the audience as
though to an intimate, not to mention Eric Tavares's 1977 Benedick, in
which he all but flirted with various women in the audience during "One
woman is fair...."

(I myself, though an amateur, have done both grand opera and Renaissance
faire, so, as a performer, I've pretty well covered the extremes.)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louise Casini <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Aug 2004 02:38:32 EDT
Subject: 15.1563 The Globes Audience in the Future
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1563 The Globes Audience in the Future

Maybe I'm missing an obvious fact - and I am quite fallible! -  but can
we pinpoint a specific time or "event" (prior to the twentieth century
and the advent of Realism) that suggested soliloquies (or other actor
audience connections) should be "introverted" - i.e. talking to one's
self, excluding the audience's presence.

Ok, the theatres were closed down, but it wasn't THAT long, and I'd
think that a few grains of the original theatrical intentions would have
been sewn by SOME troupes.   It's not as if Shakespeare's works were
unknown, few, or unpopular. <g>

Still, I understand we may argue it's a matter of one's taste.   I find
myself stunned (and shamefully snobbish) when I see a production that
ignores the audience's existence.  I would think that with the vast
amount of research, and the abundance of resources so readily available,
that this "style" would begin to slink away, into the dark corner of its
initiator's mind.

Any Thoughts?

Louise Casini
Playhouse On the Square
Memphis, TN

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