Culture Monster

All the Arts, All the Time

« Previous Post | Culture Monster Home | Next Post »

Globe Theatre Shakespeare, minus the Globe Theatre

October 9, 2010 |  1:30 pm

Globefalstaff Following its sold-out 2009 tour of "Love’s Labors Lost," directed by Dominic Dromgoole, the acclaimed Shakespeare’s Globe theater company of London is returning to the U.S. this week with a revival of its 2008 production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

But as Chloe Veltman reports in a story in Arts & Books Sunday, transplanting plays from its unique space to auditoriums abroad comes with challenges. Many of the theaters that the Globe has visited on the road in this country on previous tours do not resemble the “wooden O” of its home base -- a replica of the original Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank where the Bard’s own troupe of players performed in the early 1600s.

The particularities of the Globe’s stage design don’t easily translate to other venues. Director Christopher Luscombe’s production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" makes special use of the physical assets of the Globe in London. Several scenes take place along walkways built across the groundlings pit and the actors frequently hide behind the pillars and chase each other around the musicians’ gallery. And like all of the Globe’s productions, it only uses natural light.

Yet the company may fare better at The Broad Stage, where "The Merry Wives of Windsor" will play for 12 performances from Oct. 14-24, than at many other theaters. A combination of the Santa Monica-based theater’s relatively small size and thrust stage coupled with Luscombe’s careful reconfiguration of the action will help to re-create something approximating the experience of catching the comedy at the Globe itself.

The success of the Globe’s last visit to Santa Monica launched the beginning of a relationship between the British company and the Broad Stage. Now, both companies are keen for the relationship to blossom.

Dale Franzen, artistic director of the Broad Stage, is already planning to make the appearance of the Globe theater company an annual occurrence, an option which seems all the more likely given the current pullback of UCLA Live’s international theater presenting program. Even though the costs of importing a large theater company from Europe are high, the presenter is hoping to bring Shakespeare’s Globe back in 2011, next time with a serious drama rather than a comedy.

“It’s vital for us not to miss a year,” Franzen said. “We will not make money from having the Globe here, but in the overall look of our season, it’s an extremely important piece.”

--Chloe Veltman

Above: Christopher Benjamin as Sir John Falstaff in the Globe's production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." Credit:  John Tramper