The Moore Park Entertainment Quarter will take on something of the flavour of its Elizabethan London counterpart this September with the arrival of Pop-Up Globe, a dimensionally exact replica of William Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, built in 1614 on the site of an earlier playhouse that burned to the ground the year before.
“The second Globe Theatre is the instrument for which Shakespeare wrote many of his plays and in which his plays were performed for over 30 years,” said Pop-Up Globe founder Dr Miles Gregory during a launch event at Moore Park.
“I think it’s only really when you experience Shakespeare’s work performed in the theatre for which it was written that you understand the power and the passion that led to Shakespeare becoming the greatest playwright the world has ever seen.”
The Sydney season of Pop-Up Globe consists of four plays: Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors and an all-male A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a Maori twist.
The plays are coming directly from a season in Auckland with an international cast.
The idea for a touring replica Globe is the brainchild of Gregory, an Auckland-based director and Shakespeare scholar. The inspiration for the theatre, he says, lies in a pop-up storybook he read to his young daughter as a bedtime story.
“[She] asked me if we could go to a Globe and I said, well look, the nearest Globe Theatre is a very long way away but then I stopped and thought, a pop-up Globe … would that be possible and what would it look like? Fifteen months later we opened the first Pop-Up Globe in Auckland.”
That venture was originally conceived as a one-off, timed with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016. It was so successful, however, that the Pop-Up was revived in 2017 and then toured to Melbourne.
Pop-up Globe is a triple-storey, 900-person capacity theatre constructed from over 100 tonnes of scaffolding skinned with corrugated iron. The 100sqm stage stretches out into the yard and wherever audience members sit or stand they are never further than 15m from the stage.
Seeing a Shakespeare play performed in something like the conditions it was written for has proven “life-changing” for many people, says Gregory.
“We don’t use that word lightly. It’s life-changing because many people don’t think they can understand or enjoy Shakespeare. They’re trained to think Shakespeare is boring. But here they see a side of Shakespeare they didn’t know existed. They find themselves enjoying it, laughing, applauding, being swept up in the excitement.”