Thoughts about things I've done and news about what I'm going to do.

What my thoughts look like after editing/second-guessing.

An irregularly updated blog (mostly) about theatre.

  • The Wooden O 25 October 2016 | View comments


    [Really, I should be thinking about other things right now - projects, soon-to-be-projects, sleeping, eating properly, etc - but I won't clear space in my head unless I write all of this]


    I know what anyone else with an internet connection knows about today’s announcement regarding Emma Rice’s position as Artistic Director of the Globe. I don’t have any privileged knowledge or connection to the theatre, so I have to take that information at face value. This isn’t (precisely) about those given reasons, anyway. It’s about something different. 


    The only show I’ve seen at the Globe since Rice took up her position was her production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I think it’s the fifth show I’ve ever seen at the theatre (two being school trips around a decade ago). A major difference between this production and the others was that I was excited about it. The others I was, at the most, curious about. Maybe I hadn’t been to the Globe in years and felt an obligation - more as someone working in theatre than a punter - to touch base with such a significant venue. Maybe a friend had a spare ticket. Maybe my teachers thought I should go*. But A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the only production I was excited about going to, that I booked a ticket for months in advance, that had caught my eye well before its first performance. 


    And that was, primarily, an excitement to see Emma Rice’s production.


    When I think of Dream, I think of Puck’s ‘Clap me! Just you!’. I think of Meow Meow descending from the sky with glorious excess. I think of the perfect way that Bottom checked his watch. I think of (shocker, artificial lighting) the ‘Rock The Ground’ neon sign. I think of looking up at the spheres and whatever-the-word-is-for-them drifting in the wind above me and thinking ‘Christ that’s beautiful, why have I never seen something like that here before?**’ I think of a celebration and an exploitation (in the best sense of the word) of what the Globe can do, how the theatre can feel, what it can offer. 


    The thing is, I go to the theatre as both and audience member and a theatre-maker. They’re hard to divorce - and it might be part of the reason that I’ve had this very specific, what might seem a-bit-too emotional response to this news. Both as an audience member and a theatre-maker, I really enjoyed Dream (it wasn't - to my tastes - flawless, but Christ it was a brilliantly entertaining, fun, warm, welcoming and raucous few hours) - even as someone who has a pretty major fondness for ‘shared light’ productions (to be honest, at no point did I feel like the lighting utilised in Dream divorced the actors and audience, that it directly contradicted what ‘shared light’ can do in unifying the spaces that both groups occupy). I thought it was a brilliant Shakespeare, a brilliant theatrical production, a brilliant piece of entertainment. 


    Hearing that the board apparently find Rice’s methods inauthentic, or not apt for the Globe, or misaligned with the Globe’s aims and intentions - what that says to me is that I am not welcome there. If I think a show like that has a place there, I am wrong. If I think that is a way to treat Shakespeare, I am in error. If I enjoyed that production, I do not belong at the Globe. 


    That is the feeling the announcement leaves me with.***


    I’d only recently become properly excited about the Globe. As somewhere to see shows. As somewhere to one day make them. As a place that has the potential to offer a unique audience experience. I’ve no doubt that my feelings are tinged with the fact that I’m a young(ish - Railcard’s run out so I’ve no official proof of youth anymore) female director who enjoys Rice’s work, both as a punter and a professional, I feel more of a connection to her than I do to most artistic directors. It also doubles-down the sense of no longer being welcome - it’s a lot harder to imagine myself one day behind the scenes at the theatre, now that someone whom I artistically admire has been treated this way. 


    Other people will write eloquently about historical accuracy, about the Globe as theatre vs Globe as museum, about Rice’s previous work - both before and during her time at the theatre - and the responses to her first season, so I will leave that to others. What I am trying so hard to articulate is the sense of the board - however consciously or unconsciously - saying, through this action ‘Oh, you thought the Globe could be for you? Well, of course not - the Shakespeare that makes you excited isn’t proper.’


    And yes, the natural response is to go: don't listen to them. And I wouldn't, if they weren't the same people with the power to determine the Artistic Director of the Globe.




    *That said, I did enjoy those other shows - but I never looked forward to them, they never caught my imagination beforehand in the way Dream did.


    **Okay, maybe I would have if I’d been to the Globe more before, I don’t know if they have previously featured similar hanging items over the audience - but the theatre’s previous programme hadn’t brought me in more times. This production did.


    ***Well, also anger, and sadness, and…you get the idea though.

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