“Come, and take choice of all my library, And so beguile thy sorrow,” Shakespeare wrote.
Now audiences will vote on the night to choose which of the Bard’s plays will be performed for them at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Michelle Terry, the Globe’s new Artistic Director, announced that audience members are to be given a choice of three plays: The Merchant Of Venice, The Taming Of The Shrew or Twelfth Night.
The Globe is still deciding the mechanism for the audience vote, which will take place shortly before the performance time.
Audience could “throw vegetables”
“We’re talking about putting hands up, or throwing vegetables. We’re asking if we can Tweet it,” said Ms. Terry, the Olivier-award winning actress who takes over after the controversial exit of her predecessor, Emma Rice.
An ensemble of eight actors will be prepared to perform whichever play wins the vote. “They’ll be poohing their pants,” Ms. Terry suggested.
Ms. Terry said putting the choice of play in the hands of the most powerful members of the house–the audience–was a return to the tradition of Shakespeare’s day and would help break down barriers between performers and paying customers.
Audiences will vote at performances during the Globe’s Summer tour and those at its Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Oscar-winner Rylance returns to Globe
The Oscar winner Sir Mark Rylance returns to the Globe during Ms. Terry’s first season.
Rylance, who ran the Globe from 1996 to 2005, will play the villainous Iago opposite US actor Andre Holland in a production of Othello.
She said: “It is not only an endorsement of the Globe, it’s an endorsement of the importance of theatre and the craft of acting.”
Ms. Terry’s season will open with a Hamlet, in which she may take the title role.
A company of 12 actors will alternate a double bill of Hamlet and As You Like It, with the ensemble taking creative decisions in rehearsal in a corrective to the cult of the “all-powerful” director.
Modern lighting and amplified sound rejected
Ms. Terry will not employ the amplified sound and hi-tech lighting which resulted in Ms. Rice’s early departure.
“There’s something about what we can do here at the Globe that we can’t do anywhere else, like the West End of Broadway. Where we use technology it will be functional rather than for effect.”
She is committed to representing diversity “across the season,” rather than demanding a 50/50 gender balance, or quotas, in each individual production.
Rehearsals opened up to children
Children will be invited to watch rehearsals at the Globe to challenge perceptions picked up in school that Shakespeare is “boring.”
Rehearsals and workshops will be opened up to schoolchildren so they can see the Bard in action. Teachers are also invited to attend.
Michelle Terry said the way Shakespeare is taught in schools was a turn-off for children.
“I loved Shakespeare from the age of seven because no-one told me I shouldn’t,” she said.
This article originally appeared in Inews on January 4, 2018, and has been reposted with permission.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.