Grace Ioppolo writes:
The Department of English Literature has had a pioneering relationship with Shakespeare’s Globe (http://www.shakespearesglobe.com) ever since Sam Wanamaker (http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/about-us/history-of-the-globe/rebuilding-the-globe) began to dream of rebuilding Shakespeare’s famous theatre in modern London. This is because one of Sam’s closest advisors was a senior member of our Department: Prof. Andrew Gurr, an eminent theatre historian who became one of the founding members of the Globe’s Advisory Board. Andy worked tirelessly with Globe staff not just to develop, design and build the Globe but also, more recently, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (http://news.sky.com/story/1194600/sam-wanamaker-playhouse-to-open-its-doors). Without doubt, both theatres have had a major impact on UK and international theatres, acting and play-going in the last two decades. The number of modern theatres that have been redesigned around the world to integrate the Globe’s and the Wanamaker’s innovative features is too large to count.
I have another more tenuous connection to the Globe. My PhD supervisor was R. A. Foakes, who like Andy Gurr (whose Cambridge PhD thesis was examined by Reg!) was also an eminent theatre historian. Reg was on the Globe Advisory Board and eventually left for a variety of reasons, but he continued to maintain rather a critical eye on that theatre’s development. I am also glad that I had the opportunity to talk to Sam Wanamaker at a Shakespeare Association of American conference many years ago about his plans for the Globe. His enthusiasm was infectious, even though he was clearly puzzled that the Shakespearean specialists to whom he came to pitch the idea of rebuilding the Globe were less than friendly to him. But of course, we now recognize that Sam was entirely right about guaranteeing the success of his beloved project.
When I was hired at Reading in 1999, I began to assist Andy Gurr in the Research Department of the Globe. We also taught a third-year module in Summer Term called ‘Playing at the Globe’, in which we studied two plays in performance there and not only enjoyed watching the performances but hearing special lectures from Globe staff, including Jaq Bessell, the Globe’s dramaturg at the time. Alas, we no longer teach in Summer Term, so it has been difficult to find a way to teach a module based around the Globe’s summer performance schedule, although this may be something we can reconsider.
Since coming to Reading I have increasingly become involved with the Education Department at the Globe, lecturing annually there to their MA students and speaking at or participating in seminars and conferences on early modern plays, including those performed at ‘Read, Not Dead’ events. So I have a great fondness for the Globe and especially for the Education staff: its Director Dr Patrick Spottiswoode and his two colleagues, Dr Farah Karim-Cooper and Dr Will Tosh.
So you can imagine my delight this summer at being invited to become the 2017 Sam Wanamaker Fellow at the Globe, for which I will give a public lecture and contribute in other ways to the superb educational and performance resources supported by Sam Wanamaker, Andy Gurr, and, I like to think, Reg Foakes, whose death in 2013 left me bereft but incredibly grateful both for his continuing mentorship long after my PhD was completed in 1989 and his insistence that I could never understand Shakespeare’s plays if I didn’t understand their original performance conditions and theatres.
Before 2017, I will be contributing to two other celebrations at the Globe: first, I will give a lecture on May 19, 2016, on the very theatrical death 400 years ago of Philip Henslowe, an incredibly successful late 16th and early 17th century theatrical entrepreneur who built the Rose theatre in 1587 (where Shakespeare performed on occasion) and the Fortune theatre in 1600. I digitised Henslowe’s huge archive of manuscript theatre history records held at Dulwich College on this website: www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk. Andy Gurr and our colleague Mark Hutchings and I are also organising a one-day symposium on the Rose theatre (details will be available soon).
So as 2016 approaches, with its major commemorations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616, and its minor commemorations of the 400th anniversary of Henslowe’s death on January 6, 1616, I’ll be celebrating how my 2016 year of Shakespeare will extend well into 2017 as the Sam Wanamaker Fellow that year at the Globe.
Grace Ioppolo is the author of numerous books and articles on Shakespearean and and early modern drama, as well as early modern manuscripts and book history. She has edited plays by Shakespeare, Middleton and Fletcher, most recently including three editions of King Lear (Quarto, Folio and Modern) for the The Norton Shakespeare for its General Editor Stephen Greenblatt. She is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Founder and Director of the Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project (http://www.henslowe-alleyn.org.uk/index.html, which digitised the single largest set of records on theatre history in the age of Shakespeare. As a result she is frequently consulted on international manuscript digitisation projects in the humanities. Follow her on Twitter @ProfShakespeare
Contact Grace: firstname.lastname@example.org