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.

Sunday Star-Times - - Focus Photo Essay -

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.

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