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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Globe Artistic Director Talks About Launch Of Summer Shakespeare Season

 June 4, 2019 at 10:38 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Summer means Shakespeare in San Diego. KPBS arts reporter Beth Armando speaks with the old globe theater as artistic director. Barry Edelstein about the upcoming season. Barry, you are going to, Speaker 2: 00:12 are you doing, you're thinking Shakespeare live, probably Speaker 3: 00:15 Graham again or lecture talk. What can people expect from this? Well, I love doing this and to my surprise, it really resonates with audiences here who love Shakespeare, the gloves been doing Shakespeare per 80 what, five years, something like that. So I'm enormous amount of time that the gloves been doing Shakespeare in San Diego and so there's a real audience for Shakespeare here uniquely so very few other places around the United States that have as rich as Shakespeare audience and they want to know more. So we created this program to help people understand a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes, how a director works with actors to bring the language to life. And it's 90 minutes and I have three actors there to help me out and we demonstrate how the language works in the mouths of an actor in the rehearsal process, the technical details through which Shakespeare organizes the language in order to make it energetic and muscular and clear and fun. It's great. People really have a good time and people come up to me all the time and say, oh my goodness, if I had a teacher like that teaching Shakespeare when I was in high school, I'd be in the theater right now, and I think, you know, as somebody who knows what it looks like in the theater, they have no idea of that bullet that they dodged, but it's nice of them to say, hmm. Speaker 2: 01:24 Now people who just attend a plate and want to be entertained by it may think, oh, do I really need to learn more about the language? But explain kind of how understanding some of the technique of delivering these lines or are some of the things that actors can do to make it more comprehensible to the audience. How those things can actually help someone who is just going to watch the play for fun. Speaker 3: 01:50 So two things are true. One, when Shakespeare wrote these plays, 400 and some odd years ago, there was a theater culture around them that understood instinctively what he was doing and how he built the plays. Um, so today we pick up a play script written by a modern play, right? And we see sometimes the word pause in brackets and a modern actor understands that pause means that you take a little moment, think about what are you going to say next? And then go on. Shakespeare had his own equivalent of those kinds of things. And the way that he put the language together that actors in his period would have instinctively understood. But 400 years later, they need teachers to help them spot and see. So for example, Shakespeare really liked the idea of juxtaposing opposites in his speech that which has made them drunk half made me bold. I come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him. Speaker 3: 02:43 And you hear him, the thought, the, the idea of PR to praise being juxtaposed against the idea to Barry to be or not to be. That is the question. Uh, now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this Son of York and on and on and on. Everywhere. The technical term for that is called antithesis. We know it in our modern political world. Um, uh, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. You hear the, the words that are opposite being juxtaposed against each other. Well, when we train actors to do Shakespeare, we really stressed this idea and say that you've got to think the thought in such a way that the terms that are opposite each other sort of lift off and become particularly vivid and that makes the audience understand the thing much, much, much more clearly. If an actor doesn't stress the words that are opposite each other, the thought isn't communicated. And, um, we demonstrate this and thinking Shakespeare live and we do this when I'm rehearsing a play, I'm going into rehearsal and a couple of weeks I'll be talking about antithesis all the time. Yeah. Speaker 2: 03:47 This summer you're going to, the globe is going to be having as you like it and Romeo and Juliet. So you are the artistic director here. What went behind your thought process for picking these two particular plays to run tonight? Speaker 3: 03:59 The summer? Well we have a lot of criteria that go into choosing the shows that we want to put on first. Um, we think about what the audience might want to see, what they might enjoy, what might be fun and entertaining for them. Obviously we have financial limitations. What can we afford to produce given our budget? What shows are going to sell a certain number of tickets, which the globe needs in order to keep the lights on, stuff like that. Then we look at how long has it been since we've produced these plays we haven't done as you like it in almost a decade. Something like that. Having done Romeo and Juliet in longer than that and Shakespeare only had 36 plays, you cycle through them pretty quickly. And uh, the famous ones in particular that are really rewarding to audiences and that introduce audiences to Shakespeare for the first time tend to come up a little bit more frequently. Speaker 3: 04:45 So that's one part of it is just figuring out the audience dynamic of it. The other part is the artist's dynamic. I had a conversation with Jessica Stone, the director who's coming to do as you like it, and she said, God is my favorite Shakespeare and I'd really love to do it. I said, that's a pretty good reason. This is a director who's incredibly talented, very, very gifted at comedy, has become a really close friend at the old globe. She's done four plays here in the last four years. And I thought this is a great opportunity for her to stretch into this other area of doing Shakespeare. And she really loves and wanted to do that play. So check. Um, as for Romeo and Juliet, I've never done it. I've done little more than half of Shakespeare's plays now, some more than once. But Romeo and Juliet is not one I've ever directed. So I thought, I think this is the time to give it a go. Speaker 2: 05:32 And talk a little bit about as you like it in terms of what are your, what are the elements that you think are make it such a Speaker 3: 05:38 popular one of Shakespeare's plays as you like. It is one of those place that really has everything in it that we celebrate Shakespeare for great, beautiful poetry. You know, all the world's a stage and all the men and women, merely players, lots of romance and love, you know, love at first sight and the chaos that follows from that disguise. There's a woman who disguises herself as a boy who then disguises himself as a woman, um, and in chanted forest where crazy things happen, lots of music. It's really got kind of everything that you think of when you think of Shakespeare, that special charm, that special beauty of the language. The other thing about it, and this is the thing I love about the place so much as one of my very favorite lines in all of Shakespeare in it, which is much virtue in if, and there's this big long speech about the power of the word if and the way that if activates our imaginations and activates our curiosity and if is the thing that allows human beings to progress in this world because we have an image of the way things might be if only and then we take steps to pursue it and the whole play is built on this complicated idea of if a series of suppositions, a series of conjectures, what happens if we take a bunch of city slickers and throw them into the country? Speaker 3: 06:55 What happens if we could disguise ourselves so well that even the person who loves us most in this world can't recognize us and the play plays out this series of ifs in this gorgeous confection that's just rewarding and romantic and fills your heart by the end. Speaker 4: 07:11 Brush up on Shakespeare. Stop quoting him now, brush up and no women Speaker 1: 07:22 thinking Shakespeare live is this Saturday at 11:00 AM and it will likely sell out as you like. It opens June 16th listen to more about Shakespeare on stage and on film with Beth's latest Sinema Junkie podcast. Got a cape pbs.org/junkie podcast.

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Summer means Shakespeare in San Diego and artistic director Barry Edelstein previews the launch of the Old Globe's season of the Bard.
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