The Magic of Shakespeare’s Globe
In this new series of blogs, we’re going to take you behind the scenes of our Guides Tours & Exhibition. Open all year round, the tour gives you an opportunity to learn more about this unique building and its most famous playwright, Shakespeare.
In our first blog post, Tour Guide Ffion Jones discusses why she believes that Shakespeare’s Globe is the perfect space to share theatre experiences with others.
Whilst studying for my Masters in Creative Writing, I was introduced to Peter Brook, and I was so inspired by the ethos behind his work. Reading Peter Brook and the Mahabharata: Critical Perspectives helped me to get a grasp on what it is that I love about theatre; why I love acting, why I love writing, why I love helping people to make theatre, and why I love working at Shakespeare’s Globe.
I have worked for many years, delivering hundreds upon hundreds of tours, describing this iconic, weighty building and the magic within its walls. I am constantly amazed by my stamina and ability to keep telling the Globe’s story (and intrinsically, my own story) over and over again. Somehow, the energy of the moment, the faces in front of me and their wonderful invitation to share gets me going every time.
I have a belief about the magic of theatre and the magic of Shakespeare’s Globe and I have experienced this magic in multiple ways, on and off stage – and there is a little dusting of it on the tours.
The reason theatre is different to many other art forms is because it is live, because you are occupying the same space, because there are real tangible humans in front of you and because when it’s right – that’s it and then it’s gone. This is the most amazing feeling and, to me, the most rewarding art.
I prance around, flinging my limbs and my voice about, attempting to do a one woman version of something like this, trying to suggest a tiny iota of this magic, on the tours. Peter Brook describes a communication of the “direct physical conviction of the actors, their presence and individuality” and, to me, Shakespeare’s Globe is the home of this communication.
The shared space opens up an immediacy and shared language like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before. When Titus Andronicus parades into the theatre on ‘horseback’ showcasing his spoils of war, when Marc Anthony looks into people’s eyes and pleads to be heard, when Lancelot Gobbo enlists the help of an audience member to make a decision and when the shrewish Kate drags herself through the crowd after being starved to a point of insanity. These things make you think, make you laugh, make you be.
With a new season of plays approaching, I wait with bated breath to stand in the yard and meet the next companies of actors, the next array of characters and the next assortment of stories. I can’t wait to tell people what personality these shows bepaint. And I can’t wait to tell them that they must come and see it for themselves, for their role as the audience is the special ingredient to making the witches brew.
I tell people that putting Shakespeare’s plays in the original environment (or as close to it as possible) allows us to not only relive history but palpably feel the effects of Shakespeare’s plays that were intended. Peter Brook investigated the basic-ness of being human and presented theatre in its most crude form. And, I believe, that it is this element that the Globe drags out of Shakespeare’s plays, which is perhaps unexpected to an audience with anticipations of difficult language and highbrow chortling. The Globe has the beauty of the here and now. I cannot wait to be there, here and now, when this summer rolls around.
Words: Ffion Jones
Sources: Williams, D. (1991) Peter Brook and the Mahabharata: Critical Perspectives, London: Routledge
Photos: John Wildgoose and Shakespeare’s Globe