Working In The Theatre: The Globe

[Music] I chose Shakespeare because I fell in love with Shakespeare’s works. I did a master’s degree in seveteenth century literature and decided to leave that and focus on Shakespeare entirely. His characters were real. I mean he worked as a company playwright amongst many actors, so he wrote those parts for people that actually existed. They feel universal in some ways. We can all connect to Hamlet. We can all relate to the despair Romeo and Juliet feel when they can’t be together. Human evolution is something that is continuous and Shakespeare was very tapped into it. [Music] In 1576 the first theater was built
across the river in Shortage. It was called The Theater and Shakespeare’s company lived and worked in there first. Unfortunately they lost the lease to the
land that the theater sat in, So eventually they dismantle the theater and then they use the same timbers to build The Globe in 1599. And they called it The Globe and it was their brand new playhouse. [Music] Bankside during Shakespeare’s time was
considered slightly unseemly. There were playhouses, there were also cockpits where people used to gamble, they used to watch cock fights. They were also bear-baiting arenas. You’d blind the bear and they would tie it to a stake and then set dogs on it and people would gamble. There are also lots of stews or brothels
as we know them around this area. But it was also a manufacturing area as well, so there were tenors and leatherers and millers and people creating material goods. [Music] The first Globe built in 1599 burnt down 1613. They built a second Globe in 1614. That was eventually shut down in 1642
when the Civil War began in England and eventually all the outdoor theaters were pulled down and there was no public performances in playhouses during the Interregnum until 1660 when Charles II came to the throne and the king or monarchy was restored in England. And that’s pretty much when it was realized that outdoor theaters were out of fashion. [Music] In the eighteenth century people made a big deal of Shakespeare as an author and so were very focused on his biography and his origins in Stratford-upon-Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon became the pilgrimage site for centuries for Shakespeare lovers and actors and scholars. [Music] Sam Wanamaker was an American actor who came over to England in the nineteen forties and fifties and was very surprised to find that there was no monument to Shakespeare’s working theater in London on Bankside. He made it his life’s work to reconstruct The Globe as not only a monument to Shakespeare and his work but also to make it a living, breathing theater that modern actors would get to work in and therefore learn more about how Shakespeare’s plays were performed. It was really Sam Wanamaker’s insight to realize that actually the the works were born in London. [Music] What’s really exciting about this building, particularly for a Shakespeare scholar, is that it’s a reconstruction of the 1599 Globe, which was the original workplace of Shakespeare. It’s an entirely timber-built building. It’s made of English green oak which was sourced here in the U.K. It also has a thatch roof and there were no thatched roofs in London since the Great Fire of 1666. The founder of the reconstructed Globe, Sam Wanamaker, had to fight for many years in order to have approval from the council to build a
timber structure and a thatch roof but its natural materials, which were available in the sixteenth century, is what makes it so unique today. [Music] Original Practices productions were
productions that were created by Mark Rylance and his creative team; Claire van Kampen,
Jenny Tiramani, and Tim Carroll. It was a response to the building itself, noting that the building had been constructed out of materials available in the sixteenth century. They wanted to apply that to performance to see if they could learn more about the way Shakespeare’s actors worked. The way they dressed, the music they sourced and created for the productions and the way they moved and acted on stage. For scholars and students we get to learn a lot about these original plays; the conditions that produced them, the unusual architecture that we have here,
such as there being no roof there being a yard for seven hundred people to stand during the entire performance. It creates really unusual architectural conditions. Conditions Shakespeare knew and wrote for specifically. So it’s taught us a lot about his works. [Actor delivering dialogue] … but in very strange manner. He is sure possessed, madam. Why, whats the matter? Does he rave? No, madam, he does nothing but smile. Your ladyship were best to have some guard about you if he come, for sure the man is tainted in his wits. Go call him hither! I am as mad as he, if sad and merry madness equal be. [Audience laughs] How now, Malvolio? [Audience laughs] Because the audience are able to be seen by the actors and they’re not in a darkened auditorium, the audience have a much bigger part to play
in a performance. They sort of make half of the meaning. And teach them how to war! And you, good yeoman, whose limbs were made in England, show us here the mettle of your pasture. Let us swear that you are worth your breeding, which I doubt not. [Audience laughs] If you have a playhouse with three galleries of audiences steeped very high instead of fanning out in front of you. You’ve got people standing in a yard. It’s open to the elements; to the rain, to the wind, to noise off the street. It changes the dynamic of the performance.
It keeps the actors on their toes. There’s no amplification, there’s no
lighting design, and so the actors really only have their bodies and Shakespeare’s language to play with. [Audience applauding] [Music]


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