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Research rebuilding Shakespeare's Globe theatre in Melbourne

6 July 2017
Staging Shakespeare’s plays in an innovative setting

A full-scale replica of Shakespeare's second Globe theatre will be built in Melbourne, using specifications established through University of Sydney research.

Victoria's Acting Premier James Merlino (far left), Pop-up Globe's Miles Gregory (centre), and Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren (far right) launched the project in Melbourne. Image: Victorian Government

The Victorian Government has announced a full-scale working replica of Shakespeare’s theatre will open in Melbourne this September, with performances of As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello and Henry V.

“We’re thrilled and privileged to see our research being used and exploited commercially to provide an exhilarating new perspective on Shakespeare and on how to perform his plays,” said Honorary Associate Professor Tim Fitzpatrick, from the University of Sydney’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.

Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in the first Globe theatre, which was destroyed in a fire in 1613. But another was soon rebuilt and it is this structure upon which the Melbourne reconstruction is based.

Ten years of research resulted in detailed plans for the original 17th century building.
A sketch of the second Globe theatre by renowned Czech panoramist Wenceslaus Hollar. Image: Tim Fizpatrick

A sketch of the second Globe theatre by renowned Czech panoramist Wenceslaus Hollar. Image: Tim Fizpatrick

“We focused on a sketch of the second Globe done in the 1630s and discovered it had been seriously misinterpreted. Our analysis enabled us to intuit the underlying structure of the building,” said Associate Professor Fitzpatrick.

“Unlike the designers of the London Globe we benefited from new archaeological information that confirmed the original Globes – first and second – were much smaller than previously thought. The central yard is smaller, so the galleries are closer to the stage.

“Ten years of research with my collaborator Russell Emerson resulted in detailed computer-aided design plans for the original 17thcentury building, and that has now magically morphed into the Pop-up Globe, built of scaffolding to our specifications. It’s the first full-scale working replica of the second Globe,” he said.

The Pop-up Globe will be built next to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and will accommodate an audience of 900 people. The build is expected to create around 100 local construction jobs, with a further 100-120 people to be employed during the theatre season.

Pop-up Globe’s founder and artistic director, Dr Miles Gregory, said audiences have been blown away by “the immersive experience of seeing Shakespeare performed in the space for which it was written.”

The Auckland-based Pop-up Globe theatre company approached Associate Professor Fitzpatrick with a proposal to reconstruct the theatre after his research was published in a number of international journals.

The partnership led to a reconstruction of the Globe in Auckland, which last year hosted Shakespeare plays to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.

Luke O'Neill

Media and Public Relations Adviser (Humanities and Social Sciences)

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