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Home Blog Features Theatrical Cuts: Shakespeare's Globe on Screen
Theatrical Cuts: Shakespeare's Globe on Screen Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 21 September 2012 06:14

Anyone who knows me will already be well aware that I’m a Shakespeare nut. Born and bred. I’ve done the birthplace tours, the theatre visits, the endless hours of studying at school and uni. I even went round London’s Globe Theatre while it was being built and put my name on a star that’s now stuck somewhere underneath the stage.

What you lovely folks here are already well aware of is that I’m also a fan of digital theatre. You know when two people you know meet each other for the first time and have nothing in common and things get horribly awkward until one of them shoots the other? That’s not going to happen with Shakespeare and cinemas – probably – because Globe on Screen looks properly impressive.

Oh, did I mention that bit? The Globe Theatre is broadcasting Shakespeare plays into cinemas. Isn’t it cool?



Hot on the heels of the recent NT Live The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Shakespeare’s Globe will beam its innards into 65 cinemas in the UK – and a ton of screens in Australia, America and New Zealand too.

It’s great to see the National Theatre’s groundbreaking idea, which began all the way back in 2009 with Phèdre, inspire such success. Since then, NT Live’s audience has swelled around the world. The NT has even put on encore screenings of the phenomenally popular Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein and One Man, Two Guv’nors, while another company (Digital Theatre) has released its own range of on-demand productions, including David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s Much Ado About Nothing and David Morrissey’s Macbeth. Downloads for that have been as far-flung as Afghanistan and the Arctic Circle

How much does it cost to film a show? For NT Live, it’s around £200k to lug in cameras, set them up and shoot the performance on the spot. The Globe has a slightly different approach: because the theatre’s open-air, it’s impossible to broadcast live. Instead, a specialist team films the play over two nights and edits the footage together.

The idea? To capture the unique atmosphere of The Globe. If you’ve ever splashed out on a £5 standing ticket for a Globe show, the chances are you’ve been rained on – but still had a ruddy good time. Globe on Screen tries to recreate that by filming the audience as well as the stage: it uses fixed as well as dynamic, roving cameras that are positioned around the auditorium. In short, you’ll be looking over people’s heads as well as getting up close and personal.

There are, as always with these things, (very) minor changes to the production. Less make-up, a few added microphones, maybe someone stands up instead of sitting down. But if Globe on Screen manages to come anywhere close to NT Live’s high production values, this is a yet another exciting venture for digital cinemas around the world – just the kind of thing to attract different kinds of people to both the silver screen and the stage.

And, with a bit of luck, NT Live will follow Globe on Screen’s example in turn and sort out their royalties so they can finally release their productions on DVD - yep, Shakespeare's doing that too.

Globe on Screen’s programme launches next Wednesday 26th September with All’s Well That Ends Well, followed by Much Ado About Nothing on Wednesday 10th October and finishing with Arthur Davill (aka Rory from Dr Who) as Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus on Wednesday 24th October.

More on the official site here.