Former boss Dominic Dromgoole warns of “negative energy” around Shakespeare’s Globe

Dominic Dromgoole. Photo: Helena Miscioscia
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Former artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe Dominic Dromgoole has said it is “heart-breaking” and “wrong” that Emma Rice was prevented from fulfilling her ambitions at the theatre.

Dromgoole, who was artistic director at the Globe from 2006 to 2016, said that although he disagreed with Rice’s decision to use artificial lighting in the space, he respected her right to make the artistic decision and criticised the board for preventing her from doing so.

In his letter, he also highlights a “negative energy” from the Globe’s “enemies without” and also a “fair sum” of negative energy within the organisation.

He adds: “There are structural problems, there are personality problems, there is too much fighting for territory, and there are too many who feel free to comment on work without ever taking the risk of making it.

“It is absurd that out of the mess of last year, the only person to be suffering the consequences is Emma.”

His comments come as Rice addressed her departure publicly for the first time in an open letter to the next artistic director published on the Globe’s website.

The Globe announced in October 2016 that Rice would be stepping down from her role as artistic director in 2018, and that the theatre would return to more traditional staging with “shared light”.

Also writing in an open letter published on the Globe’s website, Dromgoole writes: “The fact that Emma has been stopped in fulfilling her ambitions is heart-breaking. It is also wrong.

“The spirit of a theatre is that it should follow the lead of its artistic director. And an artistic director cannot usefully be anyone but themselves. The fact of your contract is also that, unless otherwise specified, you are free to invent as you wish.”

He adds: “The only people who have the moral strength to get rid of you are the audience. No-one else, not the board, not your supposed colleagues, not the vulture punditry, just the audience.”

Dromgoole adds that he believed two things to be “at the heart of the Globe”, which are £5 tickets for the yard and the “shared light”.

He writes: “For me, shared light was the unique Globe tool, which subverted the orthodoxies of director’s and critic’s theatre, and which handed back to the actors and the audiences the capacity to collaborate together freely on making an imaginative experience occur.

“Taking away that uniqueness doesn’t strike me as radical, it strikes me as conformist. Every theatre has light and sound, the Globe didn’t.”

He says that Rice, however, had “come in to be herself” and that he respected Emma’s choice and therefore could not respect the “blocking of her choice”.