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Sydney academic helps Shakespeare's Globe pop up in Auckland

17 February 2016
New reconstruction sets the stage for authentic experience of Shakespeare

A University of Sydney academic's research into the second Globe theatre has led to the world's first faithful reconstruction in New Zealand.

Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the Globe. Image: courtesy Tim Fitzpatrick.

Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the Globe. Image: Yale Center for British Art, courtesy Tim Fitzpatrick.

Tim Fitzpatrick, Honorary Associate Professor from the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, has spent years studying the second Globe theatre, which was built by William Shakespeare and his company on the ruins of the first Globe in 1614.

Unlike earlier research on the Globe theatres, Associate Professor Fitzpatrick's reconstruction model was based on a reinterpretation of a sketch by renowned Czech panoramist Wenceslaus Hollar – the only known contemporary image of the Globe.

Using this sketch and a new interpretation of the Globe’s archaeological remains found in 1989, Associate Professor Fitzpatrick was able to develop a structural rationale for how and why the various components shown by Hollar would fit together.

Associate Professor Fitzpatrick collaborated with Russell Emerson, former Technical Director and Honorary Associate of the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, to build a computer-aided design (CAD) and then 1:50 scale card model of the theatre.

"Our reconstruction has revealed many new insights into the Globe – including that it was significantly smaller than previously thought, featured only two (not three) entrance points to the stage, and had a stage that was a different shape to that favoured by other reconstructions," Associate Professor Fitzpatrick says.

"All of these differences are the result of structural features of our modeling, which we believe are validated by, and in turn validate, Hollar's sketch."

Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the view from St Mary's, Southwark, looking towards Westminister. Image: courtesy Tim Fitzpatrick.

A sketch by Wenceslaus Hollar of the view from St Mary's, Southwark, looking towards Westminister. Image: Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the Globe. Image: Yale Center for British Art, courtesy Tim Fitzpatrick.

Following the publication of his research in a number of international journals, Associate Professor Fitzpatrick was approached by Auckland-based theatre festival Pop-Up Globe with a proposal to bring his research to life.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year, Pop-Up Globe have utilised Associate Professor Fitzpatrick’s research to build a full-scale working replica of the second Globe which will host a theatrical season of some of the Bard’s best-known plays.

Comprised of a round three-storey steel frame 'skinned' in plywood, the recently finished reconstruction reflects all the original design features – including a 100sqm stage and 'onion dome' top – and can seat audiences of up to 900 people.

Though there have been many modern attempts to reconstruct the first Globe – most famously Shakespeare’s Globe in London – this is the first time a replica of the second Globe theatre has been constructed anywhere in the world.

"This reconstruction also differs from previous attempts because it is a temporary structure, which means it can potentially ‘pop up’ in other locations in the future," Associate Professor Fitzpatrick says.

Immortal love story Romeo and Juliet will be the first Shakespearean play staged in the Pop-Up Globe theatre, which will welcome audiences from February to April.

Jennifer Peterson-Ward

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