Sydney: it's time to don your best Elizabethan ruff and take a seat in the stands (or just a plastic poncho to brave the elements as a groundling). The Pop-up Globe is coming to Sydney this spring after a massively popular Melbourne season.
So what exactly is the Pop-up Globe? It's an anatomically correct full-scale model of the Second Globe (the one built circa 1614, after the first one burned down). You’ll be able to see Shakespeare’s plays in the environment they were created for: a round, 900-seat three-storey venue, partially open to the sky, where no member of the audience – whether seated or standing – will never be more than 15 metres from the stage.
This small miracle comes courtesy of New Zealand-based venture Pop-up Globe, who opened their first season in August 2016 – and have sold more than 450,000 tickets across seasons in Auckland and Melbourne, where the company ended up extending its season from a seven-week run to an astonishing 19 weeks, playing to 150,000 people.
Four existing Pop-up Globe productions played in Melbourne, performed by a repertory ensemble from Australia and beyond: As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello and Henry V. These were performed in natural light, with unamplified sound, in period costume, and often using direct-to-audience address – as per the artistic vision for the Pop-up Globe, which prioritises historical accuracy.
Founder and artistic director, Dr Miles Gregory, says “What it is really is a time machine: when you walk into Pop-up Globe you feel like you are stepping back in time 350 years, back to the second Globe theatre on the south bank of London’s Thames… I think everyone who attends this project will understand – perhaps for the first time – why Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the Western literary canon; they’ll understand the incredible excitement and magic of his shows, and they will have a transformative experience.”
For arguably the most authentically Jacobean theatre experience, you can buy one of the ‘groundlings’ tickets – which went for $20 in Melbourne – and stand for the duration of the show.
“They’re called groundlings not because they stand on the ground, but because groundlings are a kind of fish who move together in schools with their mouths open; and indeed, when audiences see the spectacular blood effects, cannons, dancers, costumes – they do often watch with their mouths open.”
There's no information yet on where the theatre may pop-up in Sydney or which shows the Auckland-based company will be performing. But you can expect a range of comedies, tragedies and histories, and can register at popupglobe.com.au to find out details of the Sydney season as they're revealed.
Read our guide: 7 things you need to know before going to the Pop-up Globe.
Not a fan of al fresco theatre? Here's what's on stage in Sydney this month.