by Graham Pierrepoint
The way in which we find and consume entertainment has changed dramatically over the past few years thanks to the emergence of streaming and more besides – but when it comes to more traditional entertainment such as a night out at the theatre, things have largely remained steadfast. This is no bad thing – but beyond an ever-evolving schedule in terms of the plays being held each year, theatres such as the UK’s Shakespeare’s Globe have remained content to keep traditions in place. New director Michelle Terry, however, looks set to make a few changes to this – as it emerges that a more democratic approach to casting and hosting is on the way.
Terry is set to open her first season at the Globe with the likes of As You Like It and Hamlet, though actors taking part will not know in advance whom they are reading for – as the ensemble in question will ultimately decide who takes which part ahead of the production going on the boards. The move to do this, according to Terry, is to effectively remove the idea of a theatre hierarchy – and there’s more changes in place for those wishing to attend a Shakespeare play, too.
It’s thought that attendees may be able to decide upon which play they see each night when the Globe goes on tour – meaning that, say, if you don’t like the sound of seeing the company’s take on The Merchant of Venice, you’ll be able to take in Twelfth Night instead. This new take on theatregoing is daring and has certainly been met with enthusiasm and criticism in both measures – and it will certainly remain to be seen just how successful such a scheme is. Terry, who has never directed before but is an established Shakespearean actor, is set to bring in such changes in an attempt to offer more power to the cast an audience, thus removing much of the power from the director. “It is unfair that everything gets dumped on the director’s shoulders and actually it is a really collaborative process, especially for our theatre, which is one of the most democratic and egalitarian spaces that we’ve got,” advises Terry on her move to revolutionize the Globe.
It’s an intriguing concept and one which may well pull more people into theatregoing – but we will have to see how this year pans out before we can decide upon whether or not it is successful in practice!