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GUEST BLOG: Actor George Fouracres Talks Authenticity and Diverse Reactions to Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre

The Globe Ensemble actor has performed in five Shakespearean plays in fifteen months

GUEST BLOG: Actor George Fouracres Talks Authenticity and Diverse Reactions to Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre

We have officially opened our fifth Shakespeare play in fifteen months. That's arguably a bit too much Shakespeare, isn't it?

Well not at Shakepeare's Globe Theatre it ain't, where you can easily see three times as many as that in that time. From A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night, which reopened the Globe last year, we have gone on to perform Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and, now, The Tempest (reviewed here).

Frankly, if we remove ourselves from the scenario and look at it objectively, performing Shakespeare's plays at Shakespeare's own theatre with the same company of Shakespeare actors, the plays could give off slightly...well...boring vibes couldn't they? Seems a bit straightforward and conventional and nothing much to lose sleep about.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find passions, both positive and negative, ignited on social media and in the papers, by our commitment to do a very straightforward thing: perform Shakespeare's plays as they were meant to be performed.

Now, to be clear, this does not mean donning a ruff and a hat that looks like a velvet mushroom, the entire cast being composed of white men (with the occasional exception of one person of colour playing either a servant, a villain, or a sexual object), or plugging the mutton pies and bear-baiting tokens on sale in the yard. This is about replicating the authenticity of Shakespeare's words with an equivalent authenticity for a 21st century audience.

GUEST BLOG: Actor George Fouracres Talks Authenticity and Diverse Reactions to Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre
The Globe Ensemble in The Tempest
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

Not just this, but also to replicate the theatrical experience and resonance of watching something at the Globe; using the space to get closer to the original 'geography' of the play. The Globe itself is nearly always a character in the play.

For me it's been tremendously liberating to climb over the dizzying wall of po-faced, declamatory Victorianism and land with a splash into the deep pool of pre-proscenium emotion on the other side. But the deeper you swim down into that pool, the stronger the currents get. You've got to gain an instinct for when you're swimming against what's intended in the writing and when you're letting it carry you along.

I don't think there's any question of Shakespeare's relevance today - his themes are so profoundly human, they can't seem to help but endure - however, a proper adaptation has to be a proper translation. The England, the London, the world, and the people Shakespeare saw with his own two eyes and processed with his own brain, would be surprisingly unrecognisable to us in a myriad of small and large complicated ways. And Wittgenstein's principle stands: 'If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.'

I have learned that when we do strip back the preconceptions and latter-day cultural scaffolding, the results are electric, if sometimes divisive. For instance, our Hamlet, which garnered a one, two, three, four and five star review, had standing ovations every night, but also more than one angry walk-out. Perhaps that's what I've come to love most here: the people who come and see these shows and feel them in their bones, for good or ill.

On a sorry note, I've learned that elitism, classism and racism are all alive and well in theatrical discourse, in fact they're pretty naked and unashamed, particularly where Shakespeare is concerned.

There seems to be an uncanny amount of people who see inclusion and representation as some direct act of aggression against them personally. Probably a spoonful of self-reflection and a healthy dose of unpacking is due there, lads. And because of the deeply misguided possessiveness that nationalists and snobs feel over Shakespeare, the Globe is frequently a target of the all-pervasive, never-ending, tedious, vapid and inane culture war manufactured by the current government and the right-wing press.

The most redeemable thing is, though, that Shakespeare was here long before those people, and will endure far beyond any legacy they could hope to build. And as his very temporary custodians, we get the unique and simple privilege that we can share with anyone who walks through those wide-open oak doors, the thing that was the whole point in the first place all those centuries ago: just telling the stories.

The Tempest is playing at Shakespeare's Globe theatre until 22 October




From This Author - Guest Blog: George Fouracres


GUEST BLOG: Actor George Fouracres Talks Authenticity and Diverse Reactions to Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre
August 2, 2022

We have officially opened our fifth Shakespeare play in fifteen months. That’s arguably a bit too much Shakespeare, isn’t it?