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Sydney research goes full scale for Shakespeare: the Popup Globe

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Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium

Charles Perkins Centre

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

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Two decades ago Associate Professor Tim Fitzpatrick and Technical Director Russell Emerson began trying to work out what Shakespeare’s second Globe playhouse, built in 1614 on the burnt-out foundations of the first Globe, was really like. Professor Fitzpatrick, who is a researcher in the University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies had seen the London reconstruction. He was convinced that actors building a theatre for actors wouldn’t have created such an unforgiving and difficult performance space, so he went back to the original sources to find an alternative interpretation. In the process he found that previous scholars had failed to notice certain key details, in particular in a sketch done in the 1630s by prominent artist Wenceslaus Hollar.

Many geometrical calculations and computer-aided designs later, Fitzpatrick and Emerson came up with a model for the playhouse that was significantly smaller than the London Globe. Their smaller playhouse has since been validated by the archaeology, which it fits perfectly.

They then paused the project but received a phone call in 2015 from Miles Gregory, a theatre director and producer in Auckland: “We want to build your theatre”. Miles is the creative force behind what has become a remarkably successful enterprise. The Popup Globe uses Fitzpatrick’s calculations and Emerson’s CAD designs to create a theatre space that is intimate and inclusive.

The Popup Globe has already had three groundbreaking seasons in Auckland, a very successful season in Melbourne last spring – and now a season in Sydney that will bring four top-flight productions playing in repertory from 5 September – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors.

For this panel discussion Professor Fitzpatrick will summarise the University team’s research, Miles Gregory will give an overview of the Popup Globe enterprise so far, and prominent NZ actress Amanda Billing will offer first-hand insights into acting in this unique space. To bring the Popup Globe project to life, the speakers will present extensive visuals.


About the panellists

  • Associate Professor Tim Fitzpatrick holds a BA (Hons) and PhD from Sydney, and spent his academic career in the arts faculty – initially in the department of Italian, and then as one of the founders of the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies. He has published on the Commedia dell’Arte; on Elizabethan performance, paying particular attention to entrance- and exit-patterns and how they might reflect the stage resources that the playwrights ‘wrote into’ their texts; and on the architecture of the public playhouses of Elizabethan London.
  • Dr Miles Gregory is Artistic Director and Founder of the Pop-up Globe, a full-scale, temporary working replica of the second Globe Theatre. He directs Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Comedy of Errors in the current season. He is also Director of Henslowe Irving, an arts and culture management consultancy, and has worked as Chief Executive and Artistic Director for the Maltings Theatre in Berwick-upon-Tweed, as Regional Producer (Bristol) for Shakespeare’s Globe, and as Artistic Director and Founder of the Bristol Shakespeare Festival. He holds a BA (Hons) from Durham, an MFA from Exeter and a PhD from Bristol.
  • Amanda Billing plays Lady Macbeth in the current Popup Globe production of Macbeth. She has had a prominent theatre and TV career in New Zealand, after (and alongside) a career as teacher. She shares with the other panellists a commitment to theatre as a key educational tool. Amanda holds a BA (Hons) in Geography from the University of Canterbury.

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Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium

Charles Perkins Centre

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

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