While terms such as ‘shared lighting’ have entered common parlance after the recent furore at Shakespeare’s Globe over the relevance of historical staging, another Globe on the other side of the world is quite happy to place traditional on the same stage as contemporary.
New Zealand’s Pop-Up Globe is a carefully researched full-sized replica of Shakespeare’s second Globe (London’s is based on the first incarnation), which came into being as a response to Shakespeare 400 and which will now spring up again for a second season in February 2017.
Erected in an Auckland car park earlier this year, the Pop-Up’s extended inaugural season recorded 100,000 attendances for 10 different productions in its three-tiered 900-capacity structure. With a total of 128 performances, this was the largest home-grown theatre event in New Zealand history, and the largest ever Shakespeare festival in Australasia.
As artistic director and founder Miles Gregory says: “There is something terribly exciting about the temporary nature of this huge theatre, about the experience of attending a beautiful 350-year-old theatre that has suddenly ‘popped-up’. A lot of people came out of curiosity to see the building, but found themselves entranced by the productions within.”
Gregory formed the in-house Pop-Up Globe Theatre Company for the festival, the first new producing theatre in Auckland for more than 30 years. Productions included an all-male Twelfth Night, Lisa Harrow in The Tempest, and the Young Auckland Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado About Nothing.
The festival had three major targets, explains Gregory: “To share Pop-Up Globe with more than 20,000 schoolchildren, to break even, and to achieve a 90%-plus feedback rating from our audiences. I’m delighted to say that we met the first target and exceeded the others.”
This success has allowed Gregory to expand and accelerate plans for Pop-Up Globe to become an international producer: “We have learned a lot from our first season, and we’ve just moved into a huge new production facility that brings together our administration, marketing, production office, scenic workshop and wardrobe in one building.
“More importantly, we’ve adopted an artistic vision that focuses on making spectacular Jacobean theatre, recognising the role that research and development plays in our work.”
In January 2017, when Pop-Up’s casts and production teams meet to begin rehearsals, it will take on the mantle of becoming the largest theatre production company in New Zealand.
From the outset, Pop-Up Globe has aimed to create an international ensemble. Its 2017 season brings together artists from around the world in two companies of 16 actors making four plays in repertory. One company is all-male, costumed in historically accurate dress, while the other is a mixed company presented in a much more contemporary way.
“Creatively, we’re fascinated by the ingenious mechanisms developed by Jacobean theatremakers to engage and enrapture their audience as part of the presentation of the play, and this interest in spectacle is part of our artistic vision for the company.
“But we’re a thoroughly modern company that puts the experience of our audience and actors first. While actors may sometimes be dressed in historically accurate costume, the live experience for our audiences is paramount. We make theatre for today, not ‘museum theatre’.”