Taking a cue from the National Theatre, the Globe on Southbank will soon begin streaming its shows to cinemas across the U.K., the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. (It’s a crime that Canada was left out. And it’s part of the Commonwealth and all!) They won’t be live — the lack of a roof means live is way too risky, between possible inclement weather and the chance of noisy air traffic — and, in fact, the first three shows, debuting this autumn, date from last year.
On Monday night I attended a little press event at the Globe to introduce this program: I was able to ask questions of the tech guys setting up for that evening’s recording of The Taming of the Shrew and of cast and director of last season’s Much Ado About Nothing about their experiences being filmed. I also got a peek at some footage… including from Doctor Faustus, which I did see on stage at the Globe last year, and so could compare. (Yes, that’s Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill as Satan Mephistopheles in Faustus. You don’t want to miss this… and not just for his juicy performance. It’s a marvelous tale about the human thirst for knowledge that is still potent and relevant today.) It certainly looks like these filmed versions will beautifully capture not just the performances onstage but also how much byplay there is between the actors and the “groundlings” in the audience, who are literally leaning onto the stage. Because these performances all take place within the wonderful replica of Shakespeare’s own theater, and are as intimate and as interactive as shows would have been in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
The initial productions to land in cinemas are: All’s Well That Ends Well (starts Sep 26; Oct 11 in the U.S.), Much Ado About Nothing (Oct 10; Oct 23 U.S.), and Doctor Faustus (Oct 24; Nov 8 U.S.). See them.