Without Emma Rice, Shakespeare's Globe becomes the Bankside Living Museum

I appreciate Shakespeare. Granted, I am not the biggest fan of the man or his words but when he's done right, I appreciate Shakespeare. A woman who was very open about feeling similarly to me was recently appointed as the Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe. Today, that woman stepped down from the role.

In today's statement made by Shakespeare's Globe, they claimed that Artistic Director Emma Rice's dismissal from her position was because they didn't see her creative vision in the future of the Globe theatre, which is funny to me because I forgot that innovative performance art wasn't Shakespearean at all until now. I equally totally forgot that Shakespeare's words weren't revolutionary and controversial when he wrote them and I also seem to have conveniently forgotten that Rice's landmark debut production of A Midsummer Night's Dream earlier on this year was a complete sell out. Please note my sarcasm.

It fascinates me that the Globe is adamant in keeping their theatre in line with how Shakespeare's plays were once performed and how they're all about an "authentic Shakespearean experience", but when did the Globe become a living museum? When on Earth did me buying my £5 yard ticket come across as "please transport me back to the 1600s". I know we get given a lot of shows completely whitewashed already, but I'm not asking for it when I buy my ticket. And by this logic, I've also paid to be standing in other people's shit.

Emma Rice was always open about how she wasn't the biggest fan of classic Shakespeare either and her vision shows that perfectly. Rice has the eyes and the mind to turn something that even she found boring into a breathtaking piece of modern art and that's exactly what she's done this Summer with her critically acclaimed Wonder Season. For the first time in years, I wanted to go to the Globe to go and see a show and I wanted to experience the art that they were offering me. Her production of A Midsummer Night's Dream sold out mostly before it even began so I settled with the BBC broadcast of the production and I was taken aback by its beauty. The production reminded me of how good a show can be when new life is breathed into it and when a show has been performed as many times as Midsummer, that is completely unfounded. (If you want to watch Rice's production of Midsummer for yourself, watch it on BBC iPlayer right here). 


It's a shame though that The Globe want to take the vision for the theatre back to what it once was starting with 2018's Summer season: a museum for shows written hundreds of years ago. Once again. the theatre is going to become a theatre that churns the same stuff out time and time again lacking this modern sense of artistry and beauty, all because the board of directors think that Rice's decision to use electrical light damages the memory of Shakespeare. By this logic, shows performed at night using flood lights are equally as offensive as Rice's use of a standard lighting rig. I just fail to see what the point of all of this is and in my opinion, it's a complete step backwards for both the Globe and the future of the theatre.

How many open-minded women get given the chance to express themselves as openly as Rice has done this past season at the Globe? For the first time in forever, the Globe has had a slew of shows that all had their own artistic presence and purpose as opposed to just being a slate of samey stuff being performed once again to the same audience that come back every year: it was just ticking over. Caroline Byrne this year gave a political undertone to The Taming of the Shrew by setting it in modern Ireland and Rice herself brought Cymbeline back to the Globe - a show she'd worked on before when she was with KneeHigh - this time renaming it Imogen, completely reclaiming the femininity of the piece. As Rice said to The Guardian: "if anybody bended gender, it was Shakespeare". Her open-minded, modern and feminist attitude towards Shakespeare's work was inspiring for the millennial theatre fans out there and I'm sure it was the same for other generations as well. 

For the first time in its 20 year history, The Globe was embracing the world around it as opposed to completely ostracising itself from the rest of the West End and it was delightful to see it thrive. I'm gutted for the world of theatre fans and for Emma Rice herself that the Globe's board of directors have decided to take a step back in turning their theatre into the hottest place in town like Rice was soon shaping it up to be. It seems as though the industry is taking great pleasure in silencing powerful and talented women once again and - in turn - softly censoring their modern energy and vision that so many of us are on board with.

Emma Rice's Wonder Noir season is currently on sale here. Her final summer season - named The Summer of Love - goes on sale at the end of January.

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