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