IT COMBINES two very Melbourne pastimes: the theatre and the pop-up. As a pop-up, however, this is a far bigger proposition than most. Launched on Thursday and opening in September, the Pop-Up Globe theatre is a three-storey, 200 tonne building that takes 90 people to build and can house an audience of up to 900.
Based on Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, built in 1614, the Pop-Up was conceived to showcase the plays as they were performed back in the 17th century. Funny, captivating and poignant, performances then were interactive and far more playful than modern audiences might expect.
It's the brainchild of New Zealand-born Miles Gregory, who studied the Bard at university and has worked in theatre as an actor, director and producer.
Gregory is convinced that reading Shakespeare is the worst possible introduction to his work. For the plays to be fully appreciated, he argues they need to be seen performed live. The Melbourne Pop-Up will host four shows: Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, As You Like It and Henry V.
The idea came to him when he was reading his daughter a pop-up book, which featured London's Globe Theatre. She asked if she could go to it but from Auckland that would take some doing. The moment inspired a vision Gregory couldn't let go.
He remembered seeing Mark Rylands' Henry V in 1997 at the then recently opened Globe Theatre in London. "That was a very influential production for me. Just the energy of that space, the sense of time travel, to see Shakespeare's plays performed in the space for which they were written, or at least in the way they were intended, and the magic that can occur between the audience and the performers."
Determined that Shakespeare's work was meant to be fun, immersive and joyous, Gregory and a small team of believers decided to build their own replica of the Globe and to stage their version of the Bard's work. Each show needed to be an epic spectacle, including live music, sword fights, pyrotechnics and dancing. In keeping with the experience of audiences back in the 17th century, it was envisaged as a rollicking, entertaining night out.
In performances involving a battle, there should be a lot of blood, to the extent that it sometimes sprays out onto the audience. "The groundlings [audience members standing directly in front of the stage>[/embedli>
The Age is a media partner with The Pop-Up Globe.