O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
If you missed out on a trip to Shakespeare’s ‘wooden O’ this summer, you’ll be pleased to learn that its unique swelling scenes can now be yours to behold from the comfort of your local cinema, as the brand new Globe on Screen season begins this week. Cinemas across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America will be screening three plays originally staged at the Globe during 'The Word is God' 2011 theatre season, including All’s Well That Ends Well, Much Ado About Nothing, and Doctor Faustus. Last week, the Penguin Classics team was treated to a sneak preview of some of the upcoming shows and how they’ll look on screen.
We spent a fascinating hour discussing the uniqueness of the Globe experience with some of the actors, directors and the team at the Globe, and the fantastic opportunity this new season represents for a new worldwide audience to get a taste of that magic usually contained to a sunny (or not so) spot on London’s Bankside. Ross MacGibbon, Screen Director of The Taming of the Shrew – which was recently filmed for a future Globe on Screen season - talked us through the long, careful process of editing and fine-tuning that takes place after the plays are recorded live, and Charles Edwards, who played Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (which begins showing in UK cinemas on 10th October) admitted to being a little nervous but ultimately excited to see how his performance would translate to the big screen. We also discussed with that play’s director, Jeremy Herrin, the potentially discomfiting idea of a theatrical experience, usually such an intimate, singular moment in time, being immortalized forever on film and broadcast around the world – it’s this frisson and conversation between a live and mutable thing, a play, and something recorded, a film, that makes this season so brave and exciting.
The season is the perfect compliment to another tribute to Shakespeare’s time and experience currently gracing London – the wonderful new British Museum exhibition ‘Shakespeare: Staging the World’.
Like the Globe on Screen season, this exhibition celebrates the pivotal role of the playhouse as a window to the world, and offers a unique view of London as it was around 400 years ago. And we can’t recommend the beautiful accompanying book highly enough: Shakespeare's Restless World (out this week).
All’s Well That Ends Well kicks off the Globe on Screen season on September 26, and you can find your nearest venue here: onscreen.shakespearesglobe.com.