In 1997, the longtime dream of American actor Sam Wanamaker was realized posthumously when Shakespeare’s Globe, an all-wooden replica of the original theater, was opened on the south bank of the Thames within a few hundred yards of the historic site. This weekend, Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole will bring Love’s Labour’s Lost to Santa Barbara as part of a North American tour. These Globe productions aim to get as close as possible to the spirit and manner in which Shakespeare’s plays originally were performed. In pursuit of that goal, the company eschews such modern conveniences as stage lighting, a proscenium, and amplification. The result is a strikingly direct encounter with the text. I spoke with Dromgoole last week.
How has working at the Globe changed the way you direct? My work at the Globe has changed my mind about lots of things. With the audience being lit, the event is democratized. People are not compelled to look only at the stage, as they are in a darkened theater, and as a result of the kind of choice they have of where to look, they can become excited in a different way to look at what’s happening onstage, and also excited by what’s being said there. The tremendous language art of the Elizabethan stage was geared toward that situation, in which people have a choice about what to pay attention to, and thus the script had to be interesting enough to compete with whatever might have been happening in the pit. In contrast, contemporary writing can seem sterile, almost arid by comparison.
What can you say about Love’s Labour’s Lost in relation to the rest of Shakespeare? It’s really a feast of words, and it comes from a time when Shakespeare was most in love with language play in all its forms. It comes immediately after the sonnets, and it contains a sequence of sonnets that figure in the plot. People fall passionately in love, and their poems reveal their feelings.
Have you performed the piece in a traditional theater like the Granada before? No, we haven’t done it from inside a classic proscenium before. But the house lights will be up the whole time, and we will play it the same way we do in the Globe-for the truth.
Love’s Labour’s Lost will be performed at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) on Friday, November 13, at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, November 14, at 2 and 8 p.m. For tickets and information, call 893-3535 or visit www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.