Shakespearean drama has been performed for hundreds of years, in a variety of settings – parks, restaurants, classrooms, conventional theatres – but only very few audiences ever experienced Shakespeare in the original Globe Theatre. Now, modern theatre-goers have the opportunity to do just that. Pop-Up Globe is a faithful reproduction of the famous Globe Theatre, and is the manifestation of an idea producer/director, Miles Gregory conceived while reading a pop-up story book to his daughter.
“It seemed like an impossible challenge to build a full scale working replica of a Shakespearean amphitheatre,” says Gregory, yet 15 months after first sharing his idea with colleagues it became a reality. True to the original, this replica has no roof, no amplification or lighting effects and is constructed from mostly authentic materials. It’s quite small and intimate.
“Nobody’s further away from the action than 15 metres,” says Gregory. “Many people are considerably closer.”
The result is a far more intense experience and a stronger connection between audience and actors.
“Attending a performance at Pop-Up Globe is more like a sports match or a boxing match. I mean, we use a lot of blood on stage…and that is something that really affects audiences,” explains Gregory. The “blood” is a non-toxic and non-staining theatre paint, which is just as well because it “goes everywhere!” Of course, being roofless, the theatre leaves audiences exposed to the elements. Ponchos are handed around when it rains, but far from dampening the mood it can actually heighten it.
“The atmosphere when it does rain, or when there’s a storm, is electric,” explains Gregory. When it doesn’t rain and they need the sound of thunder, they achieve it by rolling a cannonball down a trough. Hand-held wind and haze machines are other historical devices that are used. Each season the company selects four plays that reflect a good cross-section of Shakespeare’s work. This season’s are: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and The Comedy Of Errors. The plays may be familiar but the unique, immersive setting adds a new dimension.
“80% of our audiences have a transformative experience. It changes the way they think about Shakespeare,” says Gregory.
Until Oct 20. The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. $29-$163+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.popupglobe.com.au
By Rita Bratovich