All the world’s a stage
Behind the scenes at Auckland’s Pop-up Globe you’ll find a hive of of energy, focus, and nerves, writes Kelly Dennett. Photos by Jason Dorday.
Before the opening scene of the Pop-up Globe’s Richard III a nervous, focused energy sits behind the scenes. Before the audience trickles into the venue the 50-ish cast and crew come together on stage to sing a karakia, a call and response between the team, an ‘‘uplifting’’ ritual that joins the production together.
‘‘Oh lordy lordy,’’ they call to one another in turn, reminiscent of a cotton field work song. Sometimes it’ll be a Ma¯ori folk song, a nod to this New Zealand production, this New Zealand theatrical export. Stephen Butterworth, who plays Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) can also be seen repeating his lines over and over. He compares script reading to archaeology: the more you do it, the more treasures you’re likely to find.
‘‘You can’t just rely on the fact you’ve done it a few times and it will come together,’’ he says. ‘‘Especially with that opening speech. If I messed up that first speech (the opening line ‘‘Now is the winter of our discontent’’ is one of the most famous lines in the world) I would feel terrible.
‘‘I make sure my vocals are up to scratch, and my articulation is there – nothing is more arduous (for the audience) than slow spoken Shakespeare.’’
Directed by Miles Gregory,
Richard III is positioned as Shakespeare’s American
Psycho for millennial audiences. Written in 1593, it follows Richard’s deadly quest for the throne, and is performed by a troup of international and local actors including Butterworth and much loved Kiwi favourite Dave Fane. Somerset Company’s Pop-up Globe in Auckland – a replica of Shakespeare’s famous haunt – is now in its fourth season, and a similar venue has ‘popped up’ in Melbourne and Sydney. It’s sold 500,000 tickets, and performed 1000 shows.
An audience of 700 can fit inside the purpose-built, three storey, 16-sided Pop-up to see performances of not just
Richard III, but The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and Measure for Measure.
‘‘The success of the show is about everybody doing their part,’’ Butterworth says.
There’s an excitement and a buzz but a real focus before going on stage, he says.
‘‘You can’t be tired, lazy or sloppy because Richard demands absolutely precision.’’
The Pop-up Globe crew gather to focus their energy before a demanding live performance.
Stephen Butterworth feels the responsibility of the lead role in Richard III.Right: Theo David as the Archbishop of York.