“And if life is your stage, I’ll be watching”…My Pop Up Globe experience

It was my husband who came home excited at the news the Pop Up Globe was coming to Auckland quite a few months ago. He knew how much I would love to go and we promptly bought tickets for three shows, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. I shared his excitement. Shakepeare is one of my passions and as an English graduate and High School English teacher, his works really do come as part of the territory.

Despite coming from the UK I never had the opportunity to visit The Globe there so this was a fantastic prospect, which didn’t disappoint. While in New Zealand, I have seen a few amateur Shakespeare productions which really didn’t cut the mustard with school groups. I am that mad teacher who takes 150 teenage boys to see Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. You hope that at least a few of them take something from it. I managed to organise a school trip to see the RSC’s production of King Lear with Sir Ian McKellan, but then couldn’t go because my debating team made it a regional final. Yes, I am still bitter about that, but The Pop Up Globe has made up for it a little.

My first experience of the Pop Up Globe was a Saturday evening performance of Twelfth Night with my husband. To just see the temporary building itself is something amazing. You walk around the corner of the building of the Q theatre and you see this fantastic construction, the white, black and red majesty. Even if you are not going to see a show there, make time to go and see the building.

  
There was a buzz in the atmosphere as it was near the start of the season, and I’m assuming that for most people it was their first visit. We bought $35 tickets for each performance, but chose different seats each time so we could see the stage from a different angle, but wherever you sat would be great as it so intimate inside.

I don’t know if I could stand for a whole two and a half hours, but we noticed that after the interval some people chose to. Maybe to experience what it was like as a groundling, but more likely because the seating was quite cosy, to say the least. I’m not complaining, I wasn’t expecting the height of comfort at all, but lets just say not all bums are made equal. Second half for us we had more room to sit and it was a lot more comfortable.

  
The performance itself was outstanding. It is a play I know well, having taught it more times than I care to remember, and I could preempt the next line most of the time. This didn’t distract me from my enjoyment of the show. Having an all male cast was an excellent decision in this comedy and worked to their advantage. I loved the interaction with the audience, the use of the stage and the music really added to the mood. It was a very traditional interpretation and I loved that. I think maybe I am a Shakespearean purist at heart.

My second show was Romeo and Juliet with my mum, who had never seen any Shakespeare. She loved it. It was easy to follow and there were some great performances. I loved the teenage angst of Romeo, although the purist in me got annoyed when he played it for laughs in the tomb as Juliet lay in his arms. After all, it is a tragedy. I expect to be crying at this point and I saw I wasn’t the only one who felt this way looking around at the audience. To be fair though, the majority were loving it and that is one of the great things about the Pop Up Globe; it has brought live, quality, Shakespeare to a wider audience. It is affordable, there are lots of performances, it is centrally located; there really is no reason not to go and see something and experience it. It is more than just a performance of a Shakepearean play. It is an experience.

  
My final experience was of the Auckland University’s performance of The Tempest, a play I was not so aware of but a performance that I loved. The were modern twists in staging, costume, casting and interpretation and the majority of them worked. At times the stage was a little busy which distracted from the words but overall it was a great performance.

So I have had more Shakespeare in my life in the last three weeks than I have in the last three years but it was worth it. If you get a chance, go.

 

For more information:  www.popupglobe.co.nz

“Get into the groove”…why I loved Madonna’s Rebel Heart show so much.

I’ve been a busy lady lately. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to go and see Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour at Vector Arena in Auckland. I was not disappointed. It felt like a life changing experience.

I could stop there, but I shall explain.

Months ago, my friend was buying four tickets for Madonna. I had just splurged on Robbie Williams’ tickets (two shows), Ed Sheeran tickets…as always, all the tickets go on sale at the same time. I umm-ed and ah-ed. I was one of those voices you saw on social media, “Would Madonna still be good now? Would she still have it?” I was a doubting Thomas.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved Madonna since I can remember. I remember listening to True Blue and Like a Virgin on cassette tape. I can remember singing into my hairbrush and dancing round my bedroom. I can remember putting on dance shows with my best friend, Maria, for our parents and even at school.

Time moved on. I can remember leg dancing (don’t ask) with my friend Cathy to Like A Prayer. I can remember getting into Prince because of Madonna; only Diamonds and Pearls mind you, that was my era.

I went to university and worked in a bar where every night they would play Beautiful Stranger. I am famous, amongst friends, for my literal dancing to Madonna (I’m available for weddings and birthdays if you’re interested). You get the idea? Madonna was always there in my life, but I needed the money. $200 a ticket is a lot. But then I won $500! I completed a random online survey about cheese, you can’t make this stuff up, and there was my answer!

Yes, I would like a ticket.

Yes, I wanted to see Madonna.

The months passed. I never got round to listening to Rebel Heart (I’ve been listening to it a lot since the gig of course) but it didn’t matter. I was at the arena with three friends who were all equally excited about seeing someone perform who they had been fans of since they were kids. Perfect.

Maybe it is because we went on the Sunday night and we knew she had kept the audience waiting, but honestly the fact that she didn’t come on stage until 10.35pm didn’t bother me. Really, it didn’t and I didn’t see anyone around where we sitting getting annoyed either. We danced to the DJ, we chatted, we got excited. After all, Bitch, she’s Madonna, she can do anything she wants! She’s never played in New Zealand before, waiting an extra hour and a half isn’t going to kill anyone, plus the organisers had emailed that day warning that the show would go on late.

  
The show was everything and more. You think of it, she had it: dancers galore, light shows, circus performers, pyrotechnics. It wasn’t just her singing with a band, it was a proper show. I felt like I was at a saucy version of Cirque du Soleil. This is a good thing.

She played a good mix of old and new material, all the favourites and, from what I have learned since, all the best songs of the new album. She dealt with her collaborations by having effective and excellent visuals on the screen behind her. I recognised a few but am showing my age by saying not all.

Madonna shows off her acrobatic skills.

We were up dancing and singing along. I wish the whole crowd had been as enthusiastic. I always feel for artists coming to New Zealand as often the audiences can be a little reserved. My view is what is the point of going if you are not going to participate? Wait until the DVD comes out and you can sit on the sofa and watch it. Get up and dance!

Over the week I have seen various comments about Madonna’s shows and I have rushed to defend her, even though she doesn’t need it. I feel so passionately about what I saw I want everyone to know. The most ridiculous thing I heard was someone saying they didn’t expect her to be so “overtly sexual.” This is Madonna. She has songs titled ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘Unapologetic Bitch’, ‘Bad Girl’. Madonna is sex. What exactly were you expecting?

So despite any negativity you may have read about the Rebel Heart shows, this fan loved it. Loved it so much she really didn’t care about only have three and a half hours sleep that night before real life began again. For one night only Madonna took me to a world of excess, fun and naughtiness. It was worth the money, the wait and the late night.

Madonna performs her Rebel Heart Tour at the Vector Arena in Auckland - her first concert in New Zealand.

Images by JASON DORDAY / FAIRFAX NZ