Letter: Audience makes the play at the Globe

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The Independent Online
Sir: Whether it was director Jack Shepherd or actor-manager Mark Rylance who decided to stage Two Gentlemen of Verona in modern dress at the Globe this summer I do not know. It was a masterstroke. The actors were dressed in the same style and period as the most important element of any theatre's architecture: the audience.

"Let's forget the building" wrote Victoria McKee (24 September) before taking up a familiar literary standpoint, when no theatre demands a holistic approach for theatrical criticism more than does the Globe.

The oldest extant illustrations of an audience assisting at the playing of a scene we all recognise is the 1777 engraving of the screen scene from the first production of The School for Scandal at Drury Lane. The scenery and galleries, linked by the actors' proscenium arch doors, had evolved from the Elizabethan frons scenae. Audience members relish a comedy of manners about themselves. Such synergy is rare. One can only hope that erudite scholarly teachers do not continue to rap brilliant young Rylance over the knuckles for unperiod "business" and what they see as solecisms.

I was reminded of a chance encounter with Sam Wanamaker on an evening transatlantic flight after we had both sat at the same table earlier that day for one of those Globe "meetings of minds". By Kennedy we decided that perhaps actors and directors should not tell academics what sort of Globe to build and conversely academics should not tell actors and directors how to use it.


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