Shakespeare’s Globe artistic director Emma Rice is to leave the theatre in 2018 after its board decided her methods are not authentic enough.
As someone who was introduced to the Globe by my friend Jill, it soon became one of my favourite theatres. The standing yard was cheap (only £5) and had the best views. If you were sturdy enough for British weather, even British summers are damp, then it was a perfect example of cheap, accessible theatre. I even went on a theatre tour as I found the venue so fascinating.
The resignation of Dominic Dromgoole was a great loss, I enjoyed the Shakespeare productions I saw but my favourite Globe production was Nell Gwynn, which later transferred to the west end. It was a fantastic example of something fresh (Jessica Swale is one of Britain’s finest young playwrights) that was in keeping with tradition of the Globe. It was bawdy, it was a camp and it felt like the sort of saucy production you have seen in 17th Century London.
Emma Rice’s programme has been completely alienating to me and, judging by the comps on offer, to a lot of the Globe’s audience. As Pamela on Twitter said;
Emma Rice was going to shake up the Globe but audiences don’t want a shaken up Globe, they want tradition, they want to uncomfortable standing/seating options but Rice couldn’t and wouldn’t offer this. Her experience of directing Shakespeare was minimal, her ideas interesting but there are a number of theatres she should be AD, and she absolutely deserves to be AD somewhere, this wasn’t it.
My criticism lies solely with the board, the same board that have clearly pushed her out appointed her in the first place. As Pamela said above she wasn’t an unknown entity, it was clear what productions would be at the Globe before she even arrived. For the board to ‘clutch their pearls’ now seems at worst foolish, at best incredibly naive.
I wish her all the best, I hope she finds herself at a theatre that can market her work as attractive and in keeping with their aims but theatre, even ground-breaking theatre, relies on money and audiences don’t want anything ground-breaking to become mainstream; the Shakespeare’s Globe is shockingly mainstream. There needs to be exciting theatre but there are some venues where audiences want to know what to expect; The National, The Royal Court, even the pub theatres that dominate London’s arts have to keep it as open as possible, at a time where funding has been slashed, it can’t afford to push away paying customers with high expectations.