The Globe Theatre focuses on an experience full of life, joy and fun

November 1, 2009

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Returns To Philadelphia With ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost'

Kate Reynolds

For The Bulletin

Sunday, November 01, 2009

This week the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts welcomed back the acclaimed Globe Theatre of London for a special one week-run of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. The six performances, October 27-31, marked the second stop on the Globe’s US Tour.

The troupe returned to the Annenberg after its fall 2005 run of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

“We had an extraordinary experience with the Globe the last time they were here” says Dr. Michael Rose, Managing Director for the Annenberg Center. “Audiences were thrilled with the production and the performance values.”

This 2009 tour revives the hit production of Love’s Labour’s Lost that was part of the Globe’s 2007 Renaissance and Revolution Season.

The play, one of Shakespeare’s early comedies, centers around the King of Navarre and his three noblemen who agree to devote themselves to three years of study by swearing off all forms of pleasure, especially the company of women. Their resolve is quickly tested when the men are visited by the Princess of France and three of her noble ladies.

“It’s one of his [Shakespeare’s] earliest plays and it’s one of his biggest experiments” offers Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe’s Artistic Director. “There are very few plays where he came up with the story himself and this is one of the three or four where he did and it’s very free and improvisatory, and, in his own words, ‘extemporal’ in process…and I think it was him at his most sort of adventurous, and his most wild, and his most entertaining.”

In presenting Shakespeare’s works, Dromgoole and the Globe attempt to treat the plays as if they’ve never been done before. Dromgoole cleverly equates the plays to ships that have been at sea for many years, with lots of “barnacles and bits of reef” attached to them. The job of the Globe is to wash away the debris so that everything appears brand new. Dromgoole admits this is difficult as we bring many preconceptions to Shakespeare.

Presenting Shakespeare becomes even more of a challenge when the Globe tours its productions. The Globe Theatre in London, a re-creation of the original Globe Theatre, is an outdoor amphitheater featuring three tiers of seating as well as field space in front of the stage for up to 700 standing guests – quite different from the theaters the company utilizes while touring.

“The important thing is that we keep true to the spirit of the Globe” says Dromgoole.

One of the ways the touring company keeps true to the Globe’s spirit is by lighting the audience so they are not “plunged into darkness like they are in conventional theater” says Dromgoole. Additionally, actors move around through the aisles of the theater so as to engage audience members in the experience.

“We try our best to directly address the audience so that we break down or smash that barrier between actor and audience that exists in conventional theaters - and then it feels like everybody’s part of the same adventure and everyone can imagine the same world together” adds Dromgoole.

The Annenberg Center has also done its part to help capture the spirit of the Globe in preparing its Zellerbach Theatre for the production. The theater’s orchestra pit was raised in order to create a thrust stage (like that of the Globe’s) so as to bring the play right out into the theater.

In addition to presenting quality theater, both the Globe and the Annenberg Center are devoted to providing educational resources to accompany their shows. For this production, the Annenberg Center offered several “enhancement programs” including pre-show chats with UPenn English professors, a facilitated interview with Dominic Dromgoole led by Jim Schlatter, former chair of the Penn Theater Department, as well as a post-performance chat with the cast.

One of the Globe’s most unique resources is its “Adopt-An-Actor” program, where students, theatergoers, and the like, can sign up for exclusive blogs from the actors chronicling the rehearsal and production process as well podcasts from members of the Love’s Labour’s Lost cast. For Penn students specifically, the Globe ran workshops in three of the university’s theatre arts classes.

When asked what he wanted audience members to walk away with after this production, Dromgoole responded: “a sense of joy.”

The Globe seeks to make Shakespeare accessible to the masses and focuses on an experience full of life, joy, and fun. This is particularly true of its production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

“It’s a play full of fun, and full of jokes, and full language – extraordinary, manic, wild language” Dromgoole notes. “It’s just delirious fun.”