Guest Blog: Why I want to build a pop-up Globe Theatre

Director Miles Gregory has ambitions to create a full-scale, portable version of the historic venue

Global ambitions: Dr Miles Gregory
Global ambitions: Dr Miles Gregory
© Jordan Arts

The power of Shakespeare performed in its original surroundings transformed my life.

June 1997. I had just finished my first year at university, preparing for a career as a lawyer. I was broke, staying on a friend's sofa. One afternoon, idling on the south bank, I walked through the doors of the newly-opened Shakespeare's Globe for a production of Henry V.

That afternoon at the Globe changed me. I had never seen theatre like this before. Like a party.
Standing in a sea of hundreds of people. Cheering, booing, clapping. All of us sharing the same space, the same lighting. The actors talking right at me. Looking me in the eye. This wasn't history. This was now. Alive. For the first time I fully understood Shakespeare. I got it. And when I walked out I was a different person.

I returned to Durham, became president of the college Shakespeare company; studied for my MFA in staging Shakespeare at Exeter and my PhD in Shakespearean performance at Bristol. Directed, produced, ran a theatre.

My whole professional life has been spent seeking to recreate that energy, that lightning bolt of understanding that changed my life on that summer's afternoon nearly twenty years ago.

In time I realised, as so many have before me, that it's the energy of the building that has the potential to bring Shakespeare to life. It's the shared space, the triple-galleried cockpit, the restless crowd, the direct address. It's these conditions of performance that create a transformative experience – particularly for young people.

Three years ago I moved back to my native New Zealand with my growing family. One Sunday I was reading a pop-up book to my oldest child, Nancy. Shakespeare's Globe popped up. "Can we go there?", she asked. I explained that the Globe was a long way away – and then I stopped, and thought.

A pop-up Globe.

A full-scale, temporary, working theatre space that precisely replicates the dimensions of the Globe Theatre. That can quite literally 'pop-up' anywhere.

Built from honest, simple materials – scaffolding, plywood, paint – using the smoke and mirrors of theatre to 'stage' the Globe so successfully that on first viewing you think you're looking at the real thing. A way for people who will never be able to travel to London to unlock the incredible power and beauty of Shakespeare performed in the space for which it was written.

Because it's all about experience. And there's something about a pop-up theatre that captures the world-changing magic of Shakespeare's original.

Computer image of the 'Pop-up Globe'
Computer image of the 'Pop-up Globe'

Our Pop-up Globe will hold nearly 1000 people. We hope that over 20,000 school-children will attend our performances in Auckland alone. And we're working with partners to take the Pop-up Globe to cities and arts festivals everywhere to change lives and bring communities together around the world.

To see this iconic building briefly juxtaposed with the skyline of your own city, far away from London, will be a tremendously exciting moment.

The Pop-up Globe will be one of the most fascinating entertainment events in history, marrying rigorous academic research with superb professional theatre to create an unforgettable night of entertainment.
It might just be the most powerful experiential education tool ever invented in the fields of Shakespeare, English studies, and drama.

Above all, this will be a theatre that Shakespeare would have immediately recognised and loved. In fact, he'd probably build it himself if he were still around.

And he would have known – as we do – that it will be great fun.

Find out more about the Pop-up Globe