Last week, the day after Shakespeare's Globe: A Theatrical Experiment
arrived from Borders, I got the Globe's production of Othello
from Netflix. This is mildly inscrutable, because I emailed the Globe, back when I first learned that they were putting the production on DVD, and they told me that the DVD was only available as a Region 2 DVD. (And later they updated the website to say this, which it still does.) I sighed, hopes dashed, and went about my life, until a few weeks ago when, after I'd added a couple of Shakespeare films I hadn't seen to my Netflix queue, the Globe DVD popped up. And it didn't say anything about regions, and Netflix only delivers in the US, so I went ahead and added it, figuring that if I couldn't view it, I'd just stick it back in the mail. And the DVD came (actually, two DVDs), and it worked just fine, and it says "Made in the USA" on it, so now I'm totally confused.
But anyway. I couldn't watch it until yesterday, because once I'd ascertained that it worked, I knew I had to put it away or I'd get nothing done. I really enjoyed it, though that's not to say that I don't have questions or criticisms. But it's funny: in one way, I'm probably incredibly demanding in my expectations for Shakespeare performances, but in another way, I'm not at all. If they make the verse intelligible and moving, then I'm sold. I don't need fancy staging or elaborate lighting or a high-end concept--just the verse, and the actors--and in fact, that's probably part of why I love the Globe so much, even beyond my love of shiny Renaissance things. When the audience doesn't have all of those extra tools to aid comprehension (or torture the play into some modern semblance, if I'm feeling less charitable and the production's really bad), then the actors have to work that much harder with what little they have. And I love that.
And I love that--despite what some critics might say about the "touristy" or "academic" nature of the place (how those are both true, I can't figure out)--the audience at the Globe is just willing to go along on the ride. They're so quick to laugh, to participate; they're not alienated by the pillars, the clothing, the lack of sets. They just jump in. It's lovely to watch. I've seen four Globe productions--five if you count this DVD--and it's been true every time. I wish I could bottle that willingness and sprinkle some onto my students, somehow.
So. The production itself. ( Othello at the Globe )