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Hamlet on SL Production Blog » Blog Archive

Globe place and time by ada

Ina’s comment in a recent email to me helped me get into a better focus:

“the idea for the historic authenticity: you could walk into the Globe as if you’re walking back to Shakespeare’s era”

and that got the juices going.

So. It’s somewhere around 1602, just outside London, along the river, in a part of town that’s also outside the strictest of government supervision - the equivalent of M, rather than PG. It’s the middle of the day, in summer, maybe raining a little. Because it’s England. Maybe foggy, maybe a little more fog toward sunset. The streets are filthy, with beggars, drunks and rats, pigs and dead bodies might not arouse much comment. Taverns, cock-fighting, bear baiting, bawdy houses and streetwalkers.

The theater is fairly new, though made of older lumber, partly open air, with no lighting other than daylight. The stage is simple, about 5 feet off the ground, with trap doors and ladders, and an upper ledge to invoke the idea of an upper room, a balcony, or a castle palisade. Sets consist of props that actors can carry onstage. Costumes are lavish. What do we think was in the costume trunk?

We, the audience, are a mixed bunch. The wealthier among us are as gorgeously dressed as we can afford, and we are destined for the covered balcony seats. Artisans and workers who can afford a groundling ticket head for the standing area just in front of the stage, fortified with ripe objects to throw at actors who displease us. There are food and drink vendors both outside and in, and gambling and canoodling in the darker corners of the theater. We have survived the last outbreak of the plague, we may not survive the next. The powers-that-be have not yet censored this theater, but we know they will eventually. We are ready to party.

2 Responses to “Globe place and time”

  1. ina Says:

    and now, we are just waiting for the play to begin!

  2. dolgo Says:

    This is really great. The date is wrong. It was probably 1603, but I’m nitpicking. I would love to see all this going on outside and inside our theatre. But what about most of the audience? Are they ready for this? I think they would have to have read all the things that we have talked about or they would not really not enjoy the nitty gritty facts of Elizabethan daily life.
    The basic question is this: What would be the best experience for our audience? I, for one, never read the program until the end of the first part of the play. Why? Because I think that you should not have to read an essay to understand a theatrical production! The meaning of the production should be contained as much as possible in the action that goes on on stage.
    Yeah, yeah, I know! I’ve been doing the pedant thing a lot. That’s because WE should know all the possibilities. But a presentation of the uncertainties and ambiguities we see in the play after careful study should not be presented to the audience, or they will be confused and unhappy.
    I repeat what I said before, however. Let’s be brilliant, NOT gimmicky. Theatre should, among other things, take over the audience and twist their guts and blow their minds. The audience should think, of course. This is a play though, that for me, is totally awesome. Every time I read it or see it I get completely knocked over yet again. It’s kind of like the study of the human brain or the secrets of the universe. Every time we think we understand something new, yet another question emerges. I LOVE this play dearly–more than anything I’ve ever encountered in my life. I say we go out there and give ‘em hell!!!


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