Shakespeare like it’s 1614 in Melbourne’s Pop Up Globe theatre

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

A time machine is landing in Melbourne, ready to transport punters back 400 years.

Pop Up Globe is a fully working and utterly accurate recreation of the legendary London theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. More than 200,000 people attended its two seasons in Auckland and, as of September, it’s setting up in the park beside Sidney Myer Music Bowl – rechristened Shakespeare Gardens for its three-month stay.

The Pop Up Globe

  • In the park beside Sidney Myer Music Bowl
  • Open from September 18-November 12.
  • Tickets are on sale now at popupglobe.com.au

Dr Miles Gregory, the theatre impresario responsible, says he was inspired when reading his four-year-old daughter Nancy a pop-up book about Shakespeare.

“The globe popped up and Nancy said, ‘Can we go there?’” Miles says. “I stopped and started thinking whether it would be possible to build one.”

A few months later, working from painstaking research by Professor Tim Fitzpatrick of the University of Sydney, he was well on his way to creating one. Utilising cutting-edge scaffolding tech, the resulting structure is three storeys high, 27 metres wide and – as closely as possible – recreates the conditions of a night out in 1614. Although, hopefully, with better hygiene.

“When you walk into our globe you feel you are stepping back 350 years, back to the second globe theatre on the south bank of the Thames,” Miles says.

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Miles was keen to give theatregoers – particularly the reluctant kind – a chance to get up close and personal with Shakespeare. Although the globe accommodates 900 people, a large chunk of those will be standing for the length of the performance. Dubbed groundlings, these brave souls will be able to interact with the players on stage and even run the risk in being splashed by the buckets of fake (machine washable) blood especially imported from the UK. Ponchos will be provided.

“A lot of people find Shakespeare boring and I think a lot of the time we’re taught at school that Shakespeare is boring,” Miles says. “But Shakespeare isn’t boring. I think it would be a very strange thing if we taught children music by asking them to read or sing the notes that Mozart wrote. But that’s what we ask children to do when they read Shakespeare in the classroom.

“Everyone who attends the globe will understand for the first time why Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the Western literary canon. They’ll understand the magic of the shows and they’ll have a transformative experiences.”

Pop-up Globe. The 17 tonne roof of the Pop-up Globe is craned into place at Ellerslie Racecourse during the 6 week build in NZ. Photo: Supplied

Pop-up Globe. The 17 tonne roof of the Pop-up Globe is craned into place at Ellerslie Racecourse during the 6 week build in NZ. Photo: Supplied

As part of this project to convert Shakespeare sceptics, one third of the tickets for each performance will be made available at a modest $20 a pop. Miles says he is passionate about making theatre as accessible as possible. The season of four plays – As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello and Henry V – are likely to appeal to theatregoers of all ages, while the spectacle will hold the attention of the whole family.

And what does daughter Nancy think of the globe her dad built?

“She loves it. She’s just turned seven and has seen all the shows. She now says she wants to be an actor, but I’m trying to discourage her. Become a dentist please!”

The Pop Up Globe will be open from September 18-November 12. Tickets are on sale now at popupglobe.com.au

 

Recommended

Books for October

Books for October

Myke Bartlett
Wearable tech

Wearable tech

Lucy Cleeve
Music for migrants

Music for migrants

Lucy Cleeve
Shop in Northcote

Shop in Northcote

Jemimah Clegg
So Frenchy So Chic

So Frenchy So Chic

Sarah Harris