Bard still prevails
Patrick Spottiswoode hates being away from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre but seeing college students perform lines from the Bard’s plays makes him smile.
The Globe’s director of education, Mr Spottiswood has been in New Zealand as a guest of Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand. He was an assessor at a festival in Wellington last weekend, and also took the chance to visit some schools, Toi Whakaari (New Zealand Drama School) and Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s School of Performing Arts.
He held an interactive session with students at Porirua College last Wednesday, assisting them with lines from Romeo and Juliet. Some tripped over the tricky prose, while the meanings of words like ‘‘yonder’’ were over the heads of others.
‘‘The Globe [in London] is a big place but somewhere you can whisper your lines and still have that connection with the audience,’’ he said, as each student softly read a line to the person next to them.
Teliu Valoaga and Jamie Nansen said the session – which had them running to a chair to read lines and accentuating one word in each sentence – was more fun than they thought it would be.
‘‘ That was really cool. It makes me want to go and visit the Globe,’’ Teliu said.
Mr Spottiswoode appeared wistful upon viewing slides of his beloved theatre on the banks of the Thames, but said reaching out to students of this age was important. Whether it is Kiwis mangling vowels, the distinctive Welsh accent, or southern United States kids drawling, he finds it all ‘‘instructive’’.
‘‘I hear Shakespeare all the time, but the beauty of it is that everyone makes it their own. It’s fantastic to hear their [Porirua College students] way of doing it and I find it refreshing. Some- times you forget the first time you heard Shakespeare and I love engaging with young people as they are discovering the language. It’s humbling.’’
He said passionate teachers and students will always give the plays, written more than 400 years ago, relevance.
In London, Mr Spottiswoode oversees a department of 25 fulltime staff and 65 freelance practitioners who provide lectures, workshops, courses and productions for more than 100,000 people at the Globe every year, and many more through outreach and distance learning.
Selling Shakespeare: Despite the halting delivery of some, Patrick Spottiswoode was sufficiently impressed with the enthusiasm of the Porirua College students as they read lines from Romeo and Juliet last week.