Welcome back! This is Allie Dawson again, with the 11:45 panel on movable theatres. Dr. Frank Hildy moderates a discussion with Robin Bates from Lynchburg College, Angus Veil with The Container Globe, Tim Fitzpatrick from the University of Syndney, and Miles Gregory of the Pop-Up Globe.
Dr. Robin Bates begins with her presentation, “Teaching a Staging Crux”, talking not about buildings, but about education. She mentions how she loves taking information she learns from this conference and then using it in her classeroom. One such opportunity came when, eight years ago on this day, a scholar presented evidence demonstrating the Globe had two doors and a discovery space, rather than three doors, causing some consternation. Intrigued, she created an exercise for her Shakespeare students, whereby she would have them stage a scene from Macbeth, first assuming three doors, and then two and discovery space. Having now done the exercise with several classes, she found, rather than coming up with an interpretation and basing the staging around it, the exercise allowed students to find meaning in the staging itself. It allowed the students to discover what two doors and a discovery space versus three doors reveals and implies about a scene and the characters. Her students, she says, as a result of this exercise, read the plays more deeply, with a better eye to how staging effects meaning, and awareness of the multiple meanings latent in a text. Awareness of Shakespeare’s staging conditions impresses upon students an awareness of how staging effects meaning.
Next, Dr. Angus Veil shared with the conference his project, the Container Globe, a project which uses re-purposed shipping containers to create a re-imagining of the Globe. The advantages of such an enterprise are not only the mobility of such a building, but the flexibility of it as well. While preserving a certain “Globe-ness” one can easily shift and move around the containers to either play with the placement of the pillars, re-purpose it for a modern venue, use more contemporary lighting effects out of place at the London Globe or Pop-Up Globe, or even turn it into a “Container Blackfriars”. The point, though, is to maintain the “Globe-ness” of the London Gobe and Pop-up Globe. Dr. Veil concludes by saying that, after all, one “can’t have too many Globes”.
Dr. Tim Fitzpatrick next shared his findings regarding the dimensions of the original Globe. He recalled walking into the London Globe in 1995 thinking it could not possibly be accurate. Using the information regarding the dimensions of the Fortune theatre, based on the second Globe theatre, he determined the second Globe was an ad quadratum polygon, with 16 sides and 86 feet across. He based his hypothesis, first on the dimensions mentioned above, then comparing the computer models made from these dimensions to Wenceslaus Hollar’s famous early 17th century sketch of London. Not only did the model match the sketch to scale, but it also matched the architectural footprint of the Fortune theatre. Thus, Dr. Fitzpatrick concludes, had the Pop-Up Globe been there, it would have resulted in Hollar’s sketch, and he believes that the building and the sketch validate one another, and thus represents the building Hollar would have seen. As to how that leads to the Pop-Up Globe, Dr. Fitzpatrick leaves that for Miles Gregory to answer.
Miles Gregory relates the history of the Pop-Up Globe, which is, he says, the world’s first scale reproduction of the second Globe. Inspired after reading a pop-up book featuring the Globe to his daughter, Gregory wondered what it was like inside, and if it is possible to create the same energy in a reproduction. Pop-Up Globe 1.0 was built in May of 2016 and sold 100,000 tickets, which allowed the group to move forward with the project. In May of 2017, Pop-Up Globe 2.0 was build, which included a hand-painted ceiling and superior acoustics. A rapidly growing company, now with 170 full-time staff, Pop-Up Globe Ltd. soon will be running 20 shows in two countries, and forming a partnerships with Live Nation to take them, he says, everywhere. Gregory mentions he had four goals in building the Pop-up Globe: academic integrity, advancing the sum of human knowledge, providing an audience experience via shared space and direct address, and artistic brilliance, since after all, the building means nothing without good theatre. As he says, “its not about the building, its about the plays inside.”
Afterwards, the panelists took some questions. The first question regarded the price of these venues. Gregory said it takes about $1.5 million to deconstruct and move the Pop-up Globe; Dr. Veil concurred for the Container Globe. Another attendee asked about donating to Pop-up Globe or the Container Globe. Gregory revealed the Pop-Up Globe is a private, unfunded company, but information regarding donation can be found via their Twitter (@PopupGlobe). Another inquired after the expected life of the structures. Dr. Veil said the shipping containers are built to last. Although they are not cheap to build, they take little to maintain, and will last for at least thirty years, if not more. The last question asked about technological advances in sight and sound, as opposed to the more primitive Elizabethan staging practices. Gregory explained how the second Pop-Up Globe is acoustically perfect, while Dr. Fitzpatrick impressed the importance of sight as well as sound for Elizabethan playgoers. Most, he said, did attend to see the play as well as hear it, and one must be careful about describing the Elizabethan play-going experience in those terms.